Old wooden ship found in Gulf of Mexico

May 17, 2012 at 12:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- A wooden ship believed to have sunk in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century was discovered by a survey ship, U.S. scientists say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the vessel is lying on the bottom in about 4,000 feet of water, 200 miles off the northern Gulf Coast shore, CNN reported. It was first detected in 2011 by a Shell Oil Co. survey that found an "unknown sonar contact."

NOAA scientists, using a remote-controlled underwater explorer, Little Hercules, and sonar mapping, have identified a wide variety of marine hardware and weaponry, including navigation instruments, anchors, cannons and muskets. Little Hercules made 29 dives in March and April from the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer.

"Artifacts in and around the wreck and the hull's copper sheathing may date the vessel to the early to mid-19th century," said Jack Irion, a maritime archaeologist with the Interior Department. "Some of the more datable objects include what appears to be a type of ceramic plate that was popular between 1800 and 1830, and a wide variety of glass bottles. A rare ship's stove on the site is one of only a handful of surviving examples in the world and the second one found on a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico."

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