Turks and Caicos National Museum/AP
The hull remains of the Spanish slave ship Trouvadore.

Remnants of the Slave Ship Trouvadore Are Found off East Caicos

November 26, 2008 01:30 PM
by Emily Coakley
A shipwreck in the Caribbean has been identified as the Trouvadore, an illegal slave ship; it is the latest of several shipwrecks to be discovered this year.

A Link to the Past

The Trouvadore was illegally carrying 193 slaves from Africa to Cuba when it wrecked off the coast of East Caicos in 1841. According to Reuters, the crew killed one of the Africans, but the others were released. Turks and Caicos is a British colony, and Britain had abolished slavery years before the wreck.

Crew members were arrested and sent to Cuba for trial. It’s not known what happened to them, Reuters reported, though importing slaves was a “hanging offense.”

Some of the men and women who were on the Trouvadore were taken to the Bahamas to live. The remaining stayed in Turks and Caicos and were freed after spending a year paying for their rescue by working in salt ponds.

What’s still missing is a letter of the English names given to the men and women who were on the Trouvadore, Reuters said. Such a letter would help link the survivors with their descendants who still live on the island.

“The people of the Turks and Caicos have a direct line to this dramatic, historic event. It’s how so many of them ended up being there,” said Donald Keith, head of the organization Ships of Discovery, in a conference call, Reuters said.

In the process of identifying the Trouvadore, the archaeologists also found another ship, a U.S. Navy brig called the Chippewa, which sank in 1816, according to AP.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped fund the expedition, which started in 2004, AP said.

Background: Year of the shipwreck discoveries

In 2008, several shipwrecks have been uncovered, whether by man or nature. Besides the Trouvadore, archaeologists last month published a report on a wreck in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship hasn’t been identified, but has been called the “Mardi Gras,” and is 35 miles off Louisiana and under 4,000 feet underwater, according to findingDulcinea.

A submarine known as the USS Grunion was found in October off the Aleutian Islands by the sons of the submarine’s commander, Mannert L. Abele.

Hurricane Ike, which hit the Gulf Coast in September, uncovered another wreck that’s thought to be the Monticello, a schooner that sank in 1862. Another hurricane nearly 30 years ago uncovered part of the wreckage, which was off Alabama’s coast. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers though, in a 2000 report, said the wreckage was that of a schooner lost in 1928, called the Rachel.

In Lake Ontario, the wreckage of a British war ship called the HMS Ontario, which sank more than 200 years ago, was found, according to findingDulcinea. One of the men who found the ship called it the “Holy Grail of Great Lakes wrecks.”

Reference: Caribbean Travel


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