Le Dragon 2018 Project

Sun, Jul 1, 2018 to Sat, Jul 28, 2018 in two groups July 1-14 and 14-28th.

Project Overview:

In 1783 Le Dragon was the last French warship lost in the American Revolutionary War, literally by hours. This is a unique opportunity to join ADMAT’s maritime archaeological project in the historic town of Monte Cristi on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. ADMAT is working with Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS) and ADMAT-FRANCE based at the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris (UMR-CNRS 7194), to conduct a maritime archaeological survey and excavation of this important American/English/French shipwreck.

The plan for the 2018 season, is to uncover the port side of the ship, locate the stern section if possible and to conduct a gradiometer survey of the surrounding area.

Applications are invited from divers, students, archaeologists and volunteers (minimum age 18) wishing to participate in the project. Only six places per week are available, so this is a unique opportunity to have maximum hands on training.

There are two different types of activity which all will undertake. One working on the wreck site underwater and the other at the base, working on the artefacts from this wreck and others. For information look through the web pages below. For dates and availability please contact Dr. Spooner on: maritime_archaeology@yahoo.co.uk

A painting of the battle and the last moments of Le Dragon, comissioned for the Pour La Science article on Le Dragon, which was previously called The Carron Wreck by ADMAT prior to identifying the ship as Le Dragon

A painting of the battle and the last moments of Le Dragon, comissioned for the Pour La Science article on Le Dragon, which was previously called The Carron Wreck by ADMAT prior to identifying the ship as Le Dragon

 

Brief History of Le Dragon Wreck:

Dr. Spooner conducted a short survey of part of the wreck site in 2000. The wreck site was previously called The Carron Wreck after the 9 pounder Carron iron cannons found on the ship. The iron cannons were important as they were a set of the last iron 9 pounders the Carron Iron Foundry of Falkirk in Scotland made, prior to designing the new Carronade. The new Carronade was a shorter heavier cannon, well liked by the American rebel forces. These were an import clue to identifying the ship.

The archival research was principally undertaken by Dr. Spooner, Florence Prudhomme, and Dr. François Gendron. After years of hard research the story was found by the research team. The story confirmed the wrecking process calculations as set out by Dr. Spooner.

The wreck is located approximately 16 miles to the east of Monte Cristi just off the beach at Buen Hombre. The location of the wreck compared with the reef system is important, as the reefs hold the key to the wrecking, and demonstrates the Captain's superb seamanship by sailing right up the beach in the narrows missing the coral reef on both sides by a few feet in 1783. The story of the Captain and crew of this brave ship is an epic one. The press release gives the initial story, and Florence Prudhomme who is doing her PhD on the ship and her Captain has found much more in the archives.

We now know that the ship was an American merchant ship, which was captured by the English and became a Liverpool Privateer which was captured by the French in 1781. Here she was converted into a warship pierced for 20 cannons and had 12 swivel cannons, sheeted with copper sheeting. In 1783 she was sent on an important secret mission for the King of France to deliver a spy on board with essential secret orders for the Governor of Santo Domingo. Intercepted by the English Admiral Hoods squadron, an epic battle ensured with an English third rate a 74 guns and a 52 gun ship giving battle and hoping to capture the ship and the secret orders.  The Captain realising he was out gunned and out classed sailed the ship up the beach and fought a rearguard action to allow the spy to escape with the secret document. After making sure his crew was safe the Captain destroyed the stern of the ship rendering it useless to the English. With the explosion of the stern section of the ship, many items would have been thrown into the air and would have become buried in the sand.  We have surveyed part of the remaining ships hull which is buried in the sand. Over 18 meters of bow and amidships have been located so far and five cannons have been located.

A page form the archives telling some of the story

A page form the archives telling some of the story

 

 ADMAT's maritime archaeological  work on this wreck site was assisted by ADMAT-FRANCE a non profit organisation based in the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

 

ADMAT-FRANCE is a sub division of the Anglo ~ Danish Maritime Archaeological Team

ADMAT is delighted to have an association with Muséum Nationald’Histoire Naturelle at Paris, départememt Préhistoire, UMR-CNRS 7194.