A ship that sank over 200 years ago: In a captivating historical find, experts have discovered a ship that sank over 200 years ago, resulting in the tragic loss of hundreds of lives. Astonishingly, the vessel, named the Santa María Magdalena, has been found in an “excellent” state of preservation.
Originating from the Galicia region in northwestern Spain, this wooden frigate was constructed in 1773, boasting a length of 134 feet and armed with 38 guns as part of the Spanish navy.
In 1810, amidst a fierce storm in the Viveiro estuary along Galicia’s northern coast, the Santa María Magdalena met its tragic fate, sinking alongside another ship called the Palomo. The calamity claimed the lives of more than 500 individuals.
Underwater archaeologists have been diligently investigating the estuary, unearthing remarkable discoveries at the submerged wreck site, much of which lies buried beneath sand.
This month, a team led by the Spanish Federation of Underwater Activities (FEDAS) has focused on exploring the ship’s bilge, an area where the bottom of the vessel curves up to meet the sides. The purpose of their recent work has been to meticulously document the vessel’s structure.
Through their investigations, a significant portion of the ship’s framework has been unveiled, including approximately 86 square feet of the bilge and a section of the ship’s gunwale—the uppermost edge of the hull. Antón López, one of the archaeologists and director of the research, expressed to La Voz de Galicia that the wreck is remarkably well-preserved, almost resembling a vessel that recently sunk.
“With the abundance of intact structure, we possess ample material to conduct a thorough research project. In terms of naval architecture, it is truly an underwater museum,” López remarked.
The team also made discoveries of plentiful ammunition, including a cluster of round projectiles measuring around 6 feet in length, as well as ballasts employed for stability.
López further noted that the wooden lining enveloping the ship’s structure remains in “perfect condition, devoid of biological damage or fractures.” This remarkable preservation will facilitate a deeper understanding of the construction techniques and designs employed by the shipbuilders of that era.
“We aspire to unravel the methods employed by the carpenters of that time along the riverside, as well as the architectural blueprint. Unfortunately, the ship’s plan is not available to us today,” López added.
To reveal the concealed structures of the shipwreck, the team employed a water suction device, effectively displacing sediments from the estuary’s seabed. Once the investigations are concluded, to prevent deterioration, the researchers will carefully cover the wreck with sand, providing protective insulation for the wooden remains.
You Might Also Like: