Shipwreck found 8ft underwater in Antigua may be 18th-century naval ship used ...

Shipwreck found 8ft underwater in Antigua may be 18th-century naval ship used ...
Shipwreck found 8ft underwater in Antigua may be 18th-century naval ship used ...

Archaeologists in Antigua have uncovered what they believe to be the shipwreck of a 18th-century French warship that was used by American colonists in the Revolutionary War.

Their theory is that it's the remains of the Beaumont, a 990-ton French ship constructed in 1762. 

The boat was resting in the muck at the bottom of Tank Bay, just eight feet under the surface.

A hydrographic survey of the Nelson's Dockyard several years ago first tipped researchers off that a vessel was mired in the seabed.

More recently, diver Maurice Belgrave reported seeing the large 'rib' of a ship at the bottom of the bay.

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But it wasn't until last week that archaeologists confirmed the wreck was more than 130 feet long and matched the specifications of the 18th century French naval vessel. 

If the archaeologists are correct in their assessment, it would be the only shipwreck with an intact hull built by the French East India Company, according to the Antigua Observer

A wreck located just eight feet below the surface in Antigua's English Harbour matches the description of the Beaumont, a 1762 warship that was later sold off and used during the American Revolution

A wreck located just eight feet below the surface in Antigua's English Harbour matches the description of the Beaumont, a 1762 warship that was later sold off and used during the American Revolution

Chartered by King Louis XIV in 1664, the French East India Company was intended to compete with the English and Dutch trading companies operating in Southeast Asia.

As an imperial merchant ship intended to travel from France to regions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Beaumont would have been heavily armed, National Parks Authority archaeologist Christopher Waters told the Observer.

The Beaumont only served France for two years, though, before it was sold off to an unknown private individual and renamed the Lyon.

At some point after, the Lyon was used by colonists during the American Revolution until it was captured off the coast of Virginia by the HMS Maidstone, a British naval ship.

Timbers from the shipwreck believed to be the Lyon. Analysis of the wood will help nail down the shidetermine when and where it was cut

Pictured: Timbers from the shipwreck believed to be the Lyon. Analysis of the wood will help determine when and where it was cut, offering more clues about the ship's identity

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What happened to the ship after that is cloudy, though a vessel matching the Lyon's description was listed in a 1780 map of Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua's English Harbor.

'We know it was brought here,' Waters said. 'We just don't know what happened to it. But it was very badly damaged and probably never left English Harbor again.'

Waters says evidence for the ship being the Lyon is 'compelling,' if only circumstantial.

'The fact that it's massive is incredibly special and

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