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Wreck of 18th century French ship Beaumont found in the Caribbean?

Listen to this article A wooden wreck has been found in the coastal waters of the island of Antigua in the Caribbean. According to preliminary speculation, it is the wreck of the French ship Beaumont from the 18th century. So far, only the alleged wreck of the French ship Beaumont has been located by researchers
Published: July 1, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 22:52
Wreck of 18th century French ship Beaumont found in the Caribbean?
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A wooden wreck has been found in the coastal waters of the island of Antigua in the Caribbean. According to preliminary speculation, it is the wreck of the French ship Beaumont from the 18th century.

So far, only the alleged wreck of the French ship Beaumont has been located by researchers in one of the bays on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Interestingly, it lies at a depth of less than three metres. This created great working conditions for the underwater archaeologists who explored the site.

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Wreck of the French ship Beaumont found in the Caribbean Initial identification

As far as the identification of the vessel is concerned, historians’ preliminary guesses point to a Beaumont ship. This French vessel from the 18th century took part, among others, in the War of American Independence War (1775-1783).

According to available information, the vessel found in the Caribbean is in very good condition. Moreover, reports also suggest that the wreck may be the only French East India Company ship in the world with an intact hull.

A wooden ship, forty metres long, rests in Tank Bay at a depth of less than three metres. Although the waters in this region are not favourable for wooden wrecks, this particular case is different. All because the wreck is covered by a layer of mud, thanks to which it has withstood the destructive force of time.

3D documentation of the shipwreck Search

Scientists came across the trace of the wreck several years ago while conducting hydrographic surveys. The documentation the researchers collected showed that something might be hiding under a layer of mud and sediment. In turn, a local diver reported seeing what appeared to be a wooden rib. The case stood still for some time, but now the French government has allowed a six-day investigation to take place.

Underwater archaeologists from the University of the French Antilles in Martinique, led by Jean-Sebastian Guibert visited a site in the Caribbean. They carried out their work in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda National Parks Authority. The researchers used side scan sonar and a magnetometer to delineate the area of interest before diving and exploring the wreck.

archaeologist during underwater exploration of the site Exploration

Underwater, the scientists quickly found intact hull beams and stone ballast. However, they themselves admitted that they did not expect to find any interesting artefacts. All because, if their theory about the ship’s identity was correct, the entire contents of the vessel had already been looted by slavers before it sank.

At this point, archaeologists believe it is the wreck of the French ship Beaumont, which was built in 1762. It was one of many vessels of the French East India Company designed to compete with the British and Dutch merchant fleets in Southeast Asia.

Beaumont served in the French navy for two years. It was then bought by a private investor and renamed Lyon. During the American Revolution she was retained near Virginia by the ship HMS Maidstone. It is known that she was then sent back to Antigua in a very poor condition.

It is worth noting that archaeologists located the wreck at the entrance to the historic Nelson’s Dockyard. The historic building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A map of the dockyard from 1780, which researchers found in the London archives, suggested that a French warship could be located at this site.

Archaeologists have described their discovery, and the wreck itself, as partly comparable to the legendary ship Mary Rose. At least in terms of size and the stories we can tell about it. Why it lay on the bottom for over two hundred years and no one knew about it remains a mystery.

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About author

Julia
My love for scuba diving started as a 12-year-old in the Canary Islands, at which time I took my first Open Water Diver course. This love for the blue turned into a huge passion that accompanies me to this day. Although blue is hard to come by in the Baltic, no conditions are terrible for me. In this sport, I find peace, patience, courage, focus, and balance. I have recently started to engage in underwater modeling and I am fulfilled with this.
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