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1947 Florida wreck identified as a Bermuda schooner

A mystery shipwreck off the coast of Florida has been identified as a Bermuda schooner that ran aground in a storm.

Marine archaeologists have puzzled over the origins of the ship for years — but painstaking detective work led to an article in a Singapore newspaper from the 1940s has helped identify the ship as The Deliverance, which ran aground off Ponte Vedra Beach, near St Augustine, in a severe storm in 1947.

Chuck Meide, director of the Florida-based Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) said: “We first visited the ship in 2008 and we've kept an eye on it since then as numerous storms over the years has exposed the ribs and keel in the sand.

“After the last visit, where so much of the ship's keel and ribs were exposed, we had a renewed energy to research this wreck.”

National Museum of Bermuda director Dr Edward Harris said that the discovery could add to the jigsaw of the Island's maritime history.

He added: “These are very rare occurrences — but what we really want to find is a Bermuda sloop from the 1700s, a classic Bermuda sloop — because so little is known about them.

“The hope is one day that one will be found as a shipwreck — but this one might be of interest as well.”

The Florida team matched the Deliverance wreck to the available records after a fierce storm in January uncovered more of its remains.

Archaeologists started with a list of ten possible matches recorded in the area between 1866 and 1974 — but a photograph of the mystery aground off the coast in a history book narrowed the search down.

Three images showed a two-masted schooner, identified as “a Bermuda boat”, but with no name.

But the ten-strong wreck list noted the sinking of the motor vessel Deliverance in the same area and realised a ship of that era could have had both an engine and sails.

An internet search found the Singapore news report recording the loss of the Deliverance, which plied a regular route between the Island and Jacksonville, on December 13, 1947.

The story described the loss of the boat and the efforts of the eight-strong crew and Captain Wilson King to save their ship.

A spokesman for LAMP said the discovery helped tell more stories about the United States' oldest port and that the tale of the Deliverance — named after one of the ships that carried the Island's first permanent residents to Jamestown, Virginia, after the Sea Venture was wrecked off St George's in 1609 — would be added to educational programmes at the St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum.

Submerged in the water's edge just south of Mickler's Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach, the skeleton of an old schooner has been haunting archaeologists at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum for four years.

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Published March 29, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 28, 2014 at 11:09 pm)

1947 Florida wreck identified as a Bermuda schooner

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