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Sunken Ship From Captain Morgan’s Fleet Discovered

August 6, 2011

Archaeologists say they have discovered a ship wreck at the bottom of the Chagres River in Panama believed to be part of Captain Henry Morgan’s lost fleet.

The team uncovered 52 by 22 feet of the starboard side of a wooden ship’s hull and a series of unopened cargo boxes and chests encrusted in coral.

The research team located the shipwreck with the help of a magnetometer survey, an underwater archaeological technique used to locate anomalies in the magnetic field below the surface of the water.

The team believes the sunken ship is a part of Captain Henry Morgan’s lost fleet from 1671.

The team is working with Panamanian government to study and preserve artifacts, which are an integral part of Panama’s history and heritage.

“For us, the real treasure is the shipwrecks themselves, which can give us the ability to accurately tell the story of a legendary historical figure like Captain Henry Morgan,” Frederick “Fritz” H. Hanselmann, underwater archaeologist and Research Faculty with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University, said in a press release.

“Discoveries of this nature allow us to study these artifacts and teach others what life was like for these famous privateers more than three hundred years ago.”

Captain Henry Morgan sailed as a privateer on behalf of England in the 17th century, defending the Crown’s interests and pioneering expeditions to the “New World.”

In 1671, Morgan set out to take the Castillo de San Lorenzo, a Spanish fort on the cliff overlooking the entrance to the Chagres River, in an effort to capture Panama City.

He lost five ships to the rough seas and shallow reef surrounding the fort, but his men ultimately prevailed during the battle, loosening the stronghold of Spain in the Caribbean.

“Captain Henry Morgan was a natural-born leader with a sense of adventure and an industrious spirit that the brand embraces today,” Tom Herbst, Brand Director, Captain Morgan USA, said in a press release. 

“When the opportunity arose for us to help make this discovery mission possible, it was a natural fit for us to get involved. The artifacts uncovered during this mission will help bring Henry Morgan and his adventures to life in a way never thought possible.”

The research team included volunteers from the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center and NOAA/UNC-Wilmington’s Aquarius Reef Base.

The research team was also comprised of archaeologists and divers from Texas State University.

Image 1: A team of leading U.S. archaeologists study the wreckage of a ship they believe to be part of Captain Henry Morgan’s lost fleet. The dive team discovered approximately 52×22 feet of the starboard side of a 17th century wooden ship hull and a series of unopened cargo boxes and chests encrusted in coral. Photo Credit: Captain Morgan / Chris Bickford

Image 2: In 1671, in an effort to capture Panama City and loosen the stronghold of Spain in the Caribbean, Captain Henry Morgan set out to take the Castillo de San Lorenzo, a Spanish fort on the cliff overlooking the entrance to the Chagres River, the only water passageway between the Caribbean and the capital city. Although his men ultimately prevailed, Morgan lost five ships to the rough seas and shallow reef surrounding the fort. Photo Credit: Captain Morgan / Chris Bickford

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Sunken Ship From Captain Morgan8217s Fleet Discovered


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