Statue of Captain Morgan rum logo
A piece of a ship that possibly belonged to the pirate Captain Morgan was recently discovered. Photo Credit: Varin Tsai/Flickr/CC-BY

The wreck of the Satisfaction, the flagship of notorious pirate Henry Morgan’s fleet, might have just been found near the coast of Panama. The wreck was discovered by a team of researchers and divers whose expedition was financed by the Captain Morgan rum company.

Research team had a little Captain in the bank

The piece, possibly from the hull of the Satisfaction, was discovered in the Chagres river, according to ABC, by a consortium of researchers and divers from Texas State University. Helping them were volunteers from the Submerged Resources Center and the Aquarius Reef Base, which is a joint venture between the University of North Carolina and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The operation was partially funded by the Captain Morgan rum company, part of the Diageo beverage conglomerate. According to Time, when six cannons possibly belonging to Morgan were found last year, Captain Morgan brand manager Tom Herbst said it was “a natural fit.”

Continued search after recent discovery

In 2010, according to MSNBC, six cannons were discovered in the Chagres river. The Chagres leads from Panama City to the Caribbean. Morgan took five ships up the Chagres to Panama City in 1671 but lost them in rough waters. He and his men burned Panama City to the ground when they found out the inhabitants had moved the treasure offshore. The team that excavated the cannons returned to the scene with a magnometer and used it to scour the river bottom for magnetic materials. They noticed a piece of a ship sticking out of the silt. After further exploration, they found substantial pieces of hull and several chests. A 52-f00t-by-22-foot piece of ship’s hull was excavated from the river bottom. Though it still is not confirmed to be the Satisfaction, it matches the design and fits the location and time period of Captain Morgan’s sacking of Panama City. Any and all artifacts or treasures will be turned over to the Panamanian government.

A pirate success story

Henry Morgan was among the most successful pirates in history. Sir Henry Morgan was a privateer under letter of marque from the English crown, a legal endorsement to plunder enemies of England. Other pirates such as Bartholomew Roberts or Edward Teach, the infamous “Blackbeard,” were just criminals who robbed people at will. The life of an actual pirate was not very glamorous and almost always short. A privateer, on the other hand, had a government endorsement, more akin to a mercenary. Another famed privateer was Sir Francis Drake, second man to circumnavigate the globe and hero in defending England against the Spanish Armada in 1588.





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