Advertisement

Divers find British warship that sank off Florida coast in 1742

A NPS diver documenting one of five coral encrusted cannons found in Dry Tortugas National Park (Brett Seymour/NPS)
A NPS diver documenting one of five coral encrusted cannons found in Dry Tortugas National Park (Brett Seymour/NPS)

A shipwrecked 18th century British warship has been found off the coast of Florida more than 250 years after it sunk while chasing Spanish ships in shallow waters.

The HMS Tyger ran aground near a group of small coral islands known as the Dry Tortugas near the Florida Keys in 1742.

Archeologists used the vessel’s logbooks to trace how its crew desperately tried to keep their ship afloat by throwing overboard some of the dozens of heavy cannon they were armed with.

They found five cannons under water allowing them to confirm the location of the wreck.

Dry Tortugas National Park Manager James Crutchfield said: “Archeological finds are exciting, but connecting those finds to the historical record helps us tell the stories of the people that came before us and the events they experienced.

“This particular story is one of perseverance and survival. National parks help to protect these untold stories as they come to light.”

Around 300 of the crew spent 66 days marooned on the island of Garden Key, building its first fortifications and gathering supplies and salvaging parts of their wrecked ship to build more vessels.

They they used these to attack the Spanish and finally make a 700-mile escape through enemy territory to safety at Port Royal in Jamaica.

The ship, like several others that sank and have been found again off the coast of Florida, is the property of the British government but will be monitored and protected by the US National Parks Service (NPS).

“This discovery highlights the importance of preservation in place as future generations of archeologists, armed with more advanced technologies and research tools, are able to re-examine sites and make new discoveries,” said Josh Marano, a maritime archeologist who led the team that made the discovery.