(ANSA) - Port Au Prince, May 14 - A team of archaeological investigators announced they may have discovered the lost remains of Christopher Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria, at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti over five centuries after it ran aground.
The Santa Maria was the largest of three ships with which Columbus crossed the Atlantic for the first time in 1492.
"All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus' famous flagship, the Santa Maria", Barry Clifford, a top US underwater archaeological investigator who led a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, told The Independent in an interview published on Tuesday.
Tentatively identifying the wreck of the Santa Maria was possible thanks to other discoveries he and his team made in 2003, which suggested the likely location of Columbus' fort in Haiti.
This reportedly enabled Clifford to use information from Columbus' diary to get a better understanding of where the wreck should be.
A re-examination of underwater photos from the previous expedition combined with new data from reconnaissance dives on the site earlier this month, have enabled the team to tentatively identify a wreck he and his team investigated back in 2003 as the Santa Maria.
A cannon was also found as part of the wreckage.
The flagship of Columbus' small fleet set sail on August 3, 1942 from Spain under the sponsorship of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I.
The voyage aimed to find a westward route to China, India and the gold and spice islands in the East.
But the land sailors encountered in October 1492 was a Caribbean island.
Columbus then established a fort in Haiti and in December 1492, the Santa Maria accidentally ran aground off its coast.
He eventually returned to Spain in January 1493 with the two remaining ships, the Nina and the Pinta.