Tristán de Luna's 1559 Fleet

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Shipwrecks - Bradford 1867The Lost Ships

During the night of September 19-20, 1559, a massive hurricane entered Pensacola Bay and devastated the colonial fleet of Tristán de Luna y Arellano at anchor near the recently-established settlement of Santa María de Ochuse.  Seven ships were lost as a result of the storm, including six that were grounded and sank, and one that was pushed a short distance inland and deposited on land within a grove of trees.  The list below provides details on the seven ships lost that day, three of which have now been discovered and investigated by the faculty, staff, and students of the University of West Florida maritime archaeology program.

The storeship (urca) Jesús was owned by Francisco de Ecija and was leased on January 24, 1559 for the Luna expedition, and served as the capitana, or flagship, of the fleet, on which Luna himself would have traveled. The tonnage of the vessel was recorded at 570 tons.  The crew of roughly 40-45 included master Diego López and pilot Alonso Beltrán.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 9, 1559, and was lost in the hurricane of September 19-20.

The galleon San Juan de Ulua was purchased from Felipe Boquín on February 22, 1559 for the Luna expedition, and served as the almiranta, or vice flagship, of the fleet. The tonnage of the vessel is unknown but can be estimated at roughly 600 tons based on crew size.  The documented crew of 43 included master Pedro de Andonaegui and pilot Diego Pérez.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 10, 1559, and was lost in the hurricane of September 19-20.

The ship San Andrés was owned by Salvador Hernández and was leased on January 24, 1559 for the Luna expedition. The tonnage of the vessel was recorded at 492 ½ tons.  The crew of roughly 33 included master Alonso Moraño and pilot Francisco Martín.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 9, 1559, and was lost in the hurricane of September 19-20.

The ship Sancti Espiritus was purchased from Luis de Barrasa on February 14, 1559 for the Luna expedition. The tonnage of the vessel is unknown but can be estimated at 100-150 tons based on crew size.  The crew of roughly 18 included master Juan de Puerta and pilot Juan Valenciano.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 13, 1559, and was lost in the hurricane of September 19-20.

The ship San Amaro was owned by Felipe Boquín and was leased on Jan. 25, 1559 for the Luna expedition. The tonnage of the vessel was recorded at 145 tons.  The crew of roughly 17 included master Christóbal de Escobar and pilot Antón Mançera.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 13, 1559, and was lost in the hurricane of September 19-20.

The ship Santa María de Ayuda was owned by Antón Martín and was leased on Jan. 23, 1559 for the Luna expedition.  The tonnage of the vessel was recorded at 100 tons.  The crew of roughly 17 included master Lazaro Morel and pilot Antón Martín.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 11, 1559, and was lost in the hurricane of September 19-20.

The bark (barca) La Salvadora was constructed in the winter and spring of 1558-1559 in Veracruz, along with three other new vessels specifically constructed for the Luna expedition.  The tonnage of the vessel is unknown but can be estimated at 50-70 tons based on crew size.  The crew of roughly 10 included master and pilot Vicente Fernández, boatswain Francisco de San Remo, steward Juan Flamenco, and sailor Francisco Hernández.  The ship completed unloading its cargo at Luna’s settlement on Pensacola Bay on September 11, 1559, and was the smallest of Luna’s ships lost during the hurricane of September 19-20.

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Luna Fleet Tonnage ChartOverview of the Luna Fleet

Summary information on the Luna fleet is below; for more information on how this information was calculated, and what documentary sources it is based on, see my 2009 article in the Florida Anthropologist, Vol. 62, Nos. 3-4, pp.83-92.  The chart below summarizes the calculated tonnage and crew sizes as indicated in the list below it.  Please note that thesis research by former UWF graduate student Charles Bendig has subsequently demonstrated that a 12th ship, a fragata possibly named Trinidad, was towed during the original expedition, and subsequently served on several relief expeditions.

Urca Jesús – Flagship  (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: 570 tons
Crew: 40-45 (est.)
Owner: Francisco de Ecija
Master: Diego López
Pilot: Alonso Beltrán
Notes: Leased Jan. 24, 1559 for Luna expedition; crew discharged Sept. 9, 1559 in Pensacola.

Galleon San Juan de Ulua – Vice Flagship (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: about 600 tons (est.)
Crew: 43
Owner: Spanish Crown
Master: Pedro de Andonaegui
>Pilot: Diego Perez
Notes: Bought February 22, 1559 for Luna expedition; crew discharged Sept. 10, 1559 in Pensacola.

Galleon San Juan de Ulua (returned before hurricane
Tonnage: unknown
Crew: unknown
Owner: Spanish Crown
Master: Hernán Pérez
Pilot: Constantín de San Remo
Notes: Built for expedition; returned to Mexico Aug. 25-Sept. 9, 1559; led relief efforts.

Ship San Andrés (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: 492 ½ tons
Crew: 33 (est.)
Owner: Salvador Hernández
Master: Alonso Moraño
Pilot: Francisco Martín
Notes: Leased Jan. 24, 1559 for Luna expedition; crew discharged Sept. 9, 1559 in Pensacola.

Ship Sancti Espiritus (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: 100-150 tons (est.)
Crew: 18 (est.)
Owner: Spanish Crown<
Master: Juan de Puerta
Pilot: Juan Valenciano
Notes: Bought Feb. 14, 1559 for Luna expedition; crew discharged Sept. 13, 1559 in Pensacola.

Ship San Amaro (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: 145 tons
Crew: 18 (est.)
Owner: Felipe Boquín
Master: Christóbal de Escobar
Pilot: Antón Mançera
Notes: Leased Jan. 25, 1559 for Luna expedition; crew discharged Sept. 13, 1559 in Pensacola.

Ship Santa María de Ayuda (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: 100 tons
Crew: 17 (est.)
Owner: Antón Martín
Master: Lazaro Morel
Pilot: Antón Martín Cordero
Notes: Leased Jan. 23, 1559 for Luna expedition.

Caravel Santi Espiritus (survived hurricane)
Tonnage: 242 tons
Crew: 24-25 (est.)
Owner: Alonso Carillo
Master: Alonso Carillo
Pilot: Gonzalo Gayón
Notes: Leased Jan. 24, 1559 for Luna expedition.

Bark Corpus Cristi (survived hurricane)
Tonnage: 50-70 tons (est.)
Crew: 11 (est.)
Owner: Spanish Crown
Master: Francisco de Guadalupe
Pilot: Christóbal Rodriguez
Notes: Bought May 20, 1559 for Luna expedition; crew discharged Sept. 19, 1559 in Pensacola.

Bark San Luís Aragón (survived hurricane)
Tonnage: unknown
Crew: unknown
Owner: Spanish Crown
Master: Hernán Rodríguez
Pilot: Gaspar González
Notes: Built for expedition; returned to Mexico Sept. 29-Oct. 5, 1559.

Bark La Salvadora (lost in hurricane)
Tonnage: 50-70 tons (est.)
Crew: 10 (est.)
Owner: Spanish Crown
Master: Vicente Fernández
Pilot: Vicente Fernández
Notes: Built for expedition; crew discharged Sept. 11, 1559 in Pensacola.

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