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MYSTERY SOLVED The ship sank in 1925 after a thunderstorm.
This is a long-standing mystery finally solved. Disappeared in 1925, the SS Cotopaxi has always been the subject of legends around its sinking in the notorious Bermuda Triangle. Two years ago, a viral intoxication claimed that the ship had reappeared near Cuba … Scientists now claim to know what happened to it.
The wreckage was already located some fifty kilometers from the coast of Florida, without its name and history being known. For the biologist Michael Barnette, it was however clear that it was the SS Cotopaxi, since his first dive on the site of the shipwreck 15 years ago.
“Deep down, I knew it was Cotopaxi but trying to prove it was not easy,” he told CNN on Saturday. We weren’t 100% sure because we didn’t have irrefutable proof, like a bell with the name of the ship or something like that. ”
Accompanied by the director of an archaeological maritime research program (LAMP), he dived a second time last year on the site and took measurements of the wreck. Measurements that exactly match detailed plans, insurance documents, court records and all the other information Michael Barnette has collected over the years.
“The size of the boilers corresponded exactly [to the plans], their position too. As for the configuration of the ship, ”says Chuck Meide, director of LAMP.
The Cotopaxi was a steam freighter which, on November 29, 1925, set sail with a cargo of coal. Leaving from Charleston in South Carolina to Havana in Cuba, the ship had suddenly disappeared, carrying 32 passengers, in the area of the Bermuda Triangle, which stretches from South Florida to Puerto Rico passing through Bermuda.
The myth of the Bermuda Triangle
Since the 1950s, this geographic area has been infamous for repeated disappearances of ships and planes, which conspirators have blamed on aliens, the lost city of Atlantis and other supernatural phenomena.
For Michael Barnette, the reasons for the sinking of the Cotopaxi are more banal and far from being surrounded by mystery. With most of the hatches damaged, the crew would not have been able to drain the water out of the ship in the event of a flood. In addition, it was confirmed that a radio alert message had been sent by Cotopaxi near Saint Augustine before disappearing.
“They left Florida and found themselves in the middle of a tropical storm that swept the coast. The ship probably went from bad to catastrophic very quickly, “says Michael Barnette.
For over five hundred years, Saint Augustine has been used as a stopover by sailors. An area renowned for its perilous geographic and meteorological conditions, hence the large number of shipwrecks that took place near the city during the colonial era, says Chuck Meide. “The ships came and went here despite the very dangerous cove. Each hurricane and thunderstorm moved the sandbanks. The waters were shallow to go to Saint Augustine, so there were a lot of shipwrecks ”.