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Italian Divers May Have Discovered Missing 16-Century Ship

A long lost Italian merchant ship may have been discovered off the coast of Genoa.

Two divers made discovered the remnants of a 16th-century ship in the waters off Northern Italy. Edoardo Sbaraini and Gabriele Succi were working for an underwater construction company when they saw wooden debris at about 150 feet below the surface. They found wooden comb features and a double skeleton. 

“We were at 50 meters and suddenly a 15m stretch of hull appeared before us. It took our breath away,” said Sbaraini. 

Based on the description and location, there’s a strong possibility this ship could be the 16-century wreckage of the Santo Spirito e Santa Maria de Loreto. If so, this discovery would put an end to a 50-year search that began in 1970.

The Santo Spirito e Santa Maria de Loreto was known as one of the largest ships of the 16th-century. It was carrying cannons, cloth, and shipbuilding materials from Genoa to the King of Naples when the ship went down on October 29, 1579. The ship was caught up in a storm and ran onto the rocks near Punta Chiappa. The crew was rescued, and some of the cargo was saved, but most of it went down with the ship. 

Coincidently, the ship sank during a time of plague. The locals put themselves at risk of infection in order to help rescue the crew members. It’s almost fitting that the ship would emerge during another pandemic. 

According to the initial testings of the debris, scientists have been able to track the wooden structure back to 1540 in the Netherlands. These findings would line up with the time and location of the ship’s construction. 

This discovery is all the more significant because only five other ships like it have been found in the Mediterranean. This is the first discovery on Italy’s coast. Most often, the wooden remnants of these ships do not survive in saltwater unless buried under sediment. 

Underwater Archaeologist Luca Trigona said, “We will need time for the organization and execution of the investigations, but the new wreck will certainly be a mine of information for the history of the Mediterranean.” 


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