Researchers conclusively ID British warship that sunk off Florida coast in 1742

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Researchers conclusively ID British warship that sunk off Florida coast in 1742

HMS Tyger struck coral reef at the western end of the Florida Keys on Jan. 13, 1742.

According to the NPS narrative, the crew dumped cannons and anchors overboard and shifted cargo to its stern in an unsuccessful return it to seaworthiness. After being rocked by bad weather and mishaps, HMS Tyger continued to lilt, sink and take on water, the National Park Service said.

The 280 or so men onboard were ordered by the captain to abandon ship with him, the service said. The ship was the first of three sailing for the British crown off Florida that were lost during the war.

Those failed attempts to save it may have helped preserve its story.

National Park Service archeologists matched its preserved logbook entries to five cannons found about 500 yards from the wreckage, the National Park Service said Monday. The findings were published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Credit for the journal paper went to Andrew Van Slyke of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center and Joshua Marano of its South Florida Cultural Resources Division.

They determined the guns were likely British 6- and 9-pound cannons and, based on their proximity, “almost definitely” the ones thrown overboard, the National Park Service said in its narrative.

A site survey by National Park Service divers and archeologists from Dry Tortugas National Park, the Submerged Resources Center, and the Southeast Archeological Center pinned down that cannon evidence in 2021, the service said on Monday.

“Connecting those finds to the historical record helps us tell the stories of the people that came before us and the events they experienced,” Tortugas National Park Manager James Crutchfield said in Monday’s announcement. “This particular story is one of perseverance and survival.”

The HMS Tyger’s survivors were marooned for 66 days on Garden Key, where they built its first fortifications, more than a century before historic Fort Jefferson was developed there, the National Park Service said.

They plundered the warship for material and ultimately burned the remaining wreckage of the HMS Tyger so it couldn’t be salvaged by enemies, it said.

Using the saved material, survivors built makeshift vessels and made a 55-day trek through enemy waters to British-controlled Port Royal, Jamaica, the National Park Service said.

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

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