Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wreck From Circa 1812 Found in The Northern Gulf of Mexico

Fox News: 200-year-old shipwreck found in Gulf of Mexico A very impressive new discovery of an old shipwreck:

An oil company exploration crew's chance discovery of a 200-year-old shipwreck in a little-charted stretch of the Gulf of Mexico is yielding a trove of new information to scientists who say it's one of the most well-preserved old wrecks ever found in the Gulf.

"When we saw it we were all just astonished because it was beautifully preserved, and by that I mean for a 200-year-old shipwreck," said Jack Irion, maritime archaeologist with the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in New Orleans.

Video shows muskets and gin bottles littering the Gulf bottom, along with sea life mingling in the wreck.

Scientists say the ship is about 200 miles off the northern Gulf coast and about 4,000 feet deep. The depth has kept it largely undisturbed during two centuries of storms and hurricanes. And although most of the ship's wood dissolved long ago, the copper hull and its contents remain in place

Accompanying the article is a series of cool pictures of the remains of the ship, with the copper sheathing still in shape of the hull.

This makes the ship contemporaneous with the War of 1812. OF course, cannons were found in the wreck:

Also discovered were an anchor, cannons and muskets. Irion said researchers have not yet determined whether it was a merchant, military or pirate ship.

There was plenty of pirate and military activity in the Gulf at the time, surrounding the War of 1812, the Texas revolution and the Mexican-American War. The buccaneer Jean Lafitte and other pirates sailed the Gulf to smuggle goods into New Orleans, Galveston, Texas, and elsewhere.

"It was actually a fairly hazardous place to be if you were a merchant ship, so it was not unlikely that you would be carrying a cannon on board to protect yourself," Irion said.

Yep, civilians owned cannon in those days and American privateers gave the British a major headache in the War of 1812.

A very cool find. Resting in 4,000 feet of water means it is way, way too deep for diving. I hope they do survey the wreck site and retrieve all the artifacts they can. With the bicentennial of the War of 1812 upon us, the display of items from a newly discovered wreck of that era would be timely indeed.

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