What Is the History of the Ship the Santa Maria?


Quick Answer

The Santa Maria was the ship Christopher Columbus sailed on first his voyage to the Americas in 1492. On Christmas Eve, it struck a reef just off the island of Haiti and sank. Thirty-nine members of the crew used the ship's timber to build a fort and start a settlement while Columbus sailed back to Spain in another ship. When Columbus returned a year later, the Haitians had destroyed the fort and killed the crew.

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Full Answer

In spring 2014, American underwater explorer Barry Clifford claimed to have found the wreck of the Santa Maria. He had used Columbus' diaries to find what he thought was its exact location, but unfortunately a team of experts from UNESCO soon proved that the ship he had found was actually from a later period.

Manuel Rosa, an expert in American history, has claimed that the ship never sank anyway. Columbus only claimed it sank because he was spying for the Portuguese King. His subsequent advice to the Spanish court culminated in the signing of the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, which gave Portugal free access to the Indian spice trade route. This is also questionable claim, however. The only real proof that the ship ever existed is its anchor which is at the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien in Haiti as of 2015.

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