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September 2021    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 47, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Antigua’s English Harbor Reveals Historic Shipwreck

from the September, 2021 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Local Antiguan diver Maurice Belgrave had been diving for 31 years before he stumbled across the 250-year-old remains of a wooden shipwreck in the waters of Antigua's Naval Dockyard, where historic anchors, cannons, and capstans are on display. During his work as a commercial diver, Belgrave has often discovered 18th Century clay tobacco pipes and cannonballs in the sediment that makes up the seabed.

In 2013, during routine work cleaning an anchor chain, he first encountered the remarkably well-preserved remnants of the historic vessel, but it was only this past June that a team of visiting archaeologists confirmed the identity of the 130-foot-long wooden sailing ship.

They believe it to be the 900-ton 1762 Beaumont, built for the French East India Company, later bought by a private individual, renamed the Lyon, and used in the American War of Independence. It had earlier been converted as a 56-gun warship for use by the French navy but captured by HMS Maidstone in 1778.

The ship will offer insights into 18th Century wooden ship construction. Dr. Christopher Waters, leading the team of archaeologists, says the ship's importance is comparable to that of the Mary Rose, which sunk in England's Portsmouth Harbor and was raised in 1982 and later put on display in a dedicated museum that cost more than $50 million to build.

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