ST. CROIX, US Virgin Islands — For the third year in a row, with the help of the Captain Morgan brand, a team of leading U.S. archaeologists returned to the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama in search of real-life buccaneer Captain Henry Morgan’s lost fleet.
“Morgan was one of the most infamous privateers of all time, so for me, this is a chance to use archaeological research to bridge the gap between science and pop culture. Most people associate Captain Morgan with spiced rum, but he was also an iconic historical figure who accomplished incredible feats throughout the Caribbean,” said Frederick “Fritz” H. Hanselmann, underwater archaeologist and Research Faculty with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University who has been leading the team in an effort to locate, excavate and preserve the remains of Morgan’s lost ships.
“Locating his lost ships and being able to properly preserve and share them with the public is our ultimate goal with this project. We’re really close – and at the end of the day, his ships are down there and we’re going to find them.”
The search began in September 2010, when the team discovered six iron cannons belonging to Morgan off the coast of Panama, and continued last summer with the discovery of a 17th century wooden shipwreck, potentially one of the five ships Morgan lost – which included his flagship “Satisfaction” – in 1671 on the shallow Lajas Reef. Read more.
NORWALK, Conn., Aug. 4, 2011 — A team of leading U.S. archaeologists have discovered the wreckage of a ship they believe to be part of Captain Henry Morgan’s lost fleet at the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama.
Near the Lajas Reef, where Morgan lost five ships in 1671, including his flagship “Satisfaction,” the team uncovered roughly 52x22 feet of the starboard side of a wooden ship’s hull and a series of unopened cargo boxes and chests encrusted in coral. The artifacts were buried deep beneath a thick layer of sand and mud.
The underwater research team, comprised of leading archaeologists and divers from Texas State University, including volunteers from the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center and NOAA/UNC-Wilmington’s Aquarius Reef Base, located the shipwreck with the help of a magnetometer survey, an underwater archaeological technique used to locate anomalies in the magnetic field below the surface of the water. Read more.
Diver Joe Lepore steadies a heavy 17th-century cannon as it’s lifted by an airbag from the seafloor near the mouth of Panama’s Chagres River in a recently released picture taken in 2010.
The newly recovered cannon is among six believed to have belonged to the fleet of 17th-century buccaneer Capt. Henry Morgan, whom later accounts painted as a bloodthirsty pirate.
In 1671 Captain Morgan’s current flagship, Satisfaction, hit a rocky reef and sank as he sailed out of the mouth of the Chagres River en route to sacking the Panama Viejo, now called Panama City.
Three more of Captain Morgan’s ships either slammed into the same reef or collided with each other and also went down. But the determined Welsh privateer reassembled what remained of his fleet and continued on to plunder the city. Privateers were private sailors under contract to states—in Captain Morgan’s case, Britain. Read more.
SAN MARCOS — Six deteriorating pirate cannons, discovered by a team that included a Texas State University researcher, will help Panamanian antiquities experts tell the history of that nation.
The cannons, found in September in the muck at the mouth of the Chagres River, are thought to be from the deck of ships led by legendary pirate-for-hire Capt. Henry Morgan, who was en route to raid Panama Viejo — now called Panama City — in 1671.
Instead, says Frederick Hanselmann, Morgan’s flagship ran into a reef. Then, like a nautical rumba line gone bad, three of his other ships either ran into the same reef or into each other trying to avoid it. All of them sank, depositing the cannons and everything else on the ocean floor.
Undaunted, Morgan took his remaining ships to the city and sacked it. Read more.