The UK’s Western Morning News is reporting that divers believe they may have found the wreck of a ship from Sir Walter Raleigh’s fleet lost in 1617. Local divers Todd Stevens and Robin Burrows discovered the wreck last summer and have worked to identify its remains in the interim period. Stevens is no stranger to wreck diving as he located the HMS Colossus (the captured French 74 Courageux) in 2001. Evidence at the site has led Stevens to believe the wreck could be from the Flying Joan, an armed pinnace which was one of two ships lost during Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition to modern day Venezuela. Among the artifacts located at the site are two cannon, a swivel gun, a red clay pipe, a bronze pulley sheave and a complete bung hole – all dating from the period during which the Flying Joan was lost.
Sir Walter Raleigh’s role in exploring the New World, handing Spain well-deserved defeats, and helping popularize the use of tobacco made him one of the UK’s most important historical figures. If the wreck site is indeed the Flying Joan, then its recovery and conservation will be a significant addition to the corpus of knowledge about Sir Walter Raleigh, his fleet and maritime practices during the early 17th century.