UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGISTS DIG DEEP FOR ICONIC PRIVATEER CAPTAIN HENRY MORGAN’S LOST FLEET IN THE CARIBBEAN

Team Recovers Sword, Chests and Wooden Barrels from 17th Century Shipwreck
off the Coast of Panama Where Morgan Lost Five Ships in 1671

 

St. Croix, USVI – July, 26, 2012 – For the third year in a row, with the help of the Captain Morgan brand, a team of leading U.S. archaeologists returned to the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama in search of real-life buccaneer Captain Henry Morgan’s lost fleet.

“Morgan was one of the most infamous privateers of all time, so for me, this is a chance to use archaeological research to bridge the gap between science and pop culture. Most people associate Captain Morgan with spiced rum, but he was also an iconic historical figure who accomplished incredible feats throughout the Caribbean,” said Frederick “Fritz” H. Hanselmann, underwater archaeologist and Research Faculty with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University who has been leading the team in an effort to locate, excavate and preserve the remains of Morgan’s lost ships.

“Locating his lost ships and being able to properly preserve and share them with the public is our ultimate goal with this project. We’re really close – and at the end of the day, his ships are down there and we’re going to find them.”

The search began in September 2010, when the team discovered six iron cannons belonging to Morgan off the coast of Panama, and continued last summer with the discovery of a 17th century wooden shipwreck, potentially one of the five ships Morgan lost – which included his flagship “Satisfaction – in 1671 on the shallow Lajas Reef.

This summer, the team returned to Panama to excavate historic artifacts from the shipwreck in hopes of confirming its origin. Throughout the field season, the team recovered a sword, chests, wooden barrels and multiple cargo seals. The artifacts, which are currently housed at Patronato Panamá Viejo (Old Panama Trust) in Panama City, will undergo the preservation process before being studied further and verified by London-based experts in English artillery.

 “For us, there’s no better way to communicate the values and unwavering spirit of our brand than by unearthing the real-life history of its inspiration,” said Tom Herbst, Brand Director, Captain Morgan USA. “This adventure that we’ve embarked on truly embodies the character of Morgan himself and the free-spirited nature of rum. In our case, we don’t have to make up a brand story – ours is real and it’s waiting to be discovered at the bottom of the ocean floor.”

Captain Henry Morgan was one of the few men to survive the treacherous life on the high seas long enough to enjoy his successes. From 1664 to 1671, Morgan led daring raids throughout the Spanish Main, resulting in riches for him and his men far beyond what they ever expected. 

In 1670, Morgan amassed the largest fleet in the history of the Caribbean and set his sights on Panama City, the richest city in the western hemisphere. While en route, his flagship and four additional ships ran aground on the Lajas Reef at the base of Fort San Lorenzo, the military base that guarded the mouth of the Chagres River – the only water passageway leading toward Panama City. Despite the setback, Morgan and his men prevailed, securing Fort San Lorenzo, sailing up the Chagres and ultimately making their way by foot through the dense rainforest to take Panama City. 

All artifacts excavated through the project will remain the property of the Panamanian government and will be preserved and displayed by the Patronato Panamá Viejo in Panama City.

And of course, the Captain Morgan brand reminds adult consumers, whether unearthing history or embarking on a new adventure: Raise your glass – always in moderation!


GALLERY:

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RAISE YOUR GLASS. ALWAYS IN MODERATION. ©2012 Captain Morgan Rum Co., Norwalk, CT.

 

 

 

Project Overview

For the third year in a row – and with the help of the Captain Morgan brand – a team of leading U.S. archaeologists returned to the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama in search of the lost fleet of legendary privateer, Captain Henry Morgan.
 
The project originally began in September 2010, when the team discovered six iron cannons off the coast of Panama belonging to Morgan, and continued last summer with the discovery of a 17th century wooden shipwreck believed to be one of the five ships Morgan lost – which included his flagship “Satisfaction – in 1671 on the shallow Lajas Reef.
 
This summer, the team returned to Panama to excavate historic artifacts from the shipwreck in hopes of confirming its origin. Frederick “Fritz” H. Hanselmann, underwater archaeologist and Research Faculty with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University, has been leading the team working to locate, excavate and preserve the remains of Morgan’s lost fleet.  
This summer, the team recovered a sword, multiple chests, wooden barrels and cargo seals from a 17th century shipwreck off the coast of Panama where Captain Henry Morgan’s ships wrecked on the reef. Further study, assisted by English artillery experts in London will help identify the artifacts aboard the wreck – and ultimately verify the ship’s origin.

About Fritz

Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann is Research Faculty and the Chief Underwater Archaeologist/Dive Training Officer with the River Systems Institute and the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University, as well as the director of the Lost Ships of Henry Morgan Project.  Fritz learned how to swim at age three, and has been in love with the water ever since, having been taught to breath hold dive by his grandfather in Florida diving for golf balls tied in a sock.  Having worked on underwater sites from a wide variety of time periods, his research ranges from submerged prehistoric deposits in springs and caves to historic shipwrecks in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the wreck of the Quedagh Merchant, abandoned by Captain Kidd in 1699 off the coast of Hispaniola.  Fritz led the first-ever archaeological survey of the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama in 2008 as the initial phase of the ongoing Río Chagres Maritime Landscape Study, which was funded by the Waitt Institute.  He returned in 2010 and recovered cannons that could possibly be from the wrecks of Henry Morgan’s ships lost in 1671.  In 2011, with funding from Captain Morgan Rum Co., he initiated the Lost Ships of Henry Morgan Project with a magnetometer survey of the area and the test excavation of one site that yielded a shipwreck laden with wooden chests, barrels and other artifacts. Fritz also focuses on capacity building and training for archaeologists and heritage managers in less developed countries, as well as the development of marine protected areas and underwater preserves.  He is a GUE Cave and Technical Diver, a Nautical Archaeology Society Tutor, a certified scuba instructor, an ambassador for Aquadive Watches, a member of the Body Glove Dive Team, and a fellow of the Explorer’s Club.

Click Here to learn more about the Dive Team

About Diageo

Diageo (Dee-AH-Gee-O) is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Windsor, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards Wines.

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