By Nick Krueger|January 30, 2020 at 8:17 AM EST - Updated January 30 at 8:32 AM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The SS Cotopaxi sailed away from Charleston bound for Havana, Cuba on November 29, 1925 with 32 passengers onboard.
The steam-powered carrier never arrived and the bodies were never recovered. Now almost 100 years later, a team of marine biologists has discovered the wreck off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida.
While the wreck had been found 35 years ago, the group was just recently able to pinpoint the ship’s location and confirm it was Cotopaxi. It had previously only been known as the “bear wreck.”
An underwater explorer named Michael Barnette contacted British historian Guy Walters, who then combed through the ship’s records at the archives of Lloyd’s of London, the insurance brokers of the ship.
Walters discovered that the Cotopaxi sent out distress signals on December 1st, 1925, two days after it left Charleston. The signals were picked up in Jacksonville, Florida, which placed the ship in the area of the previously located wreck.
Barnette then met with Al Perkins, who has been a diver in the area who had collected souvenirs from the wreck and also met with experts from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum who had previously identified wrecks in the area.
Their research of the wreck, its location, and other research led Barnette to the conclusion that they found the Cotopaxi.
Barnette’s story will be told on the first episode of a new Science Channel series called Shipwreck Secrets, which airs Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.
As part of the first episode, the group visited with Douglas Myers in New York, who was the grandson of the SS Cotopaxi Captain William J. Myers. He was told that the ship had after nearly a century been identified.
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