ADMAT Press Articles

St Kitts Maritime Archaeological Project 2003-2008Phase 1: White House Bay Wreck

Divernet News, - August 2003.

Divernet News, dateline 12 August 2003
Divers uncover wreck of 1740 British troop ship in St Kitts

Divers carrying out an archaeological survey in St Kitts have identified the remains of a 1740's troop ship including 5 iron cannon, musket balls and glassware. The Anglo~Danish Maritime Archaeological Team (ADMAT) started work on the site after the remains of a large shipwreck were uncovered in White House Bay on St. Kitts by a hurricane. The project, led by Simon Spooner of Bristol University, was run as a field school for aspiring marine archaeologists, with divers coming from Canada, USA, Mexico, France, Denmark and the UK.

The team spent 5 weeks surveying and excavating the site of what is believed to be a 1740s English troop ship, possibly sunk during the Battle of Frigate Bay in 1782. As the team uncovered the wrecks massive timbers, the age and significance of the ship became apparent. The timbers still covered by sand were in excellent condition, stretching for 60 ft, and consisted of the lower hull arrangements of the bow section, going as far as the main mast step. The stern has yet to be found." Judging from the remaining timbers, this ship is a very important example of pre 1760s ship construction and falls within the top 3 percent of the best historic wrecks in the Caribbean", Simon Spooner told Divernet "We knew that she was built before 1760, because the ship was constructed using wooden trunnels and had iron keel bolts, but no copper sheeting, bolts or nails."

The military nature of the vessel was confirmed after buttons from 11 different regiments were found, saved and recorded. Over 300 artefacts have been recovered, though it is believed that several cannon were looted from the site before the archaeologists began work. All the artefacts are now being conserved and will be placed on display in St. Kitts’ National Museum, along with drawings and photographs of the wreck.

The project has proved a popular attraction for visiting snorkellers and divers who are able to observe the project under supervised guidance. The island of St Kitts and Nevis has hundreds of historic wrecks, most of which are unidentified and yet to be surveyed.

The ADMAT team will be returning to St Kitts later this year, to look at other sites that are in danger and need addressing, as well as assisting St. Kitts in setting up a conservation laboratory.

Related links

Anglo~Danish Maritime Archaeological Team website
St Kitts Tourist authority website