Emanuel Point Ship Wreck



The Maritime Archaeology Program at the University of West Florida, together with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR), established a multi-year research partnership to investigate Pensacola's Luna shipwreck. Scientists and student interns from around the world participated in the research project. A conservation laboratory for the treatment of waterlogged artifacts from the shipwreck is located at the University of West Florida, and a major display of the shipwreck and its contents is planned for the public at the T. T. Wentworth Museum, which will illustrate Pensacola's early maritime and colonial history for residents and visitors. The University of West Florida Archaeology Institute also has Emanuel Point artifacts on display.

Working on Pensacola's Emanuel Point shipwreck required professional training in underwater archaeology along with the ability to handle specialized equipment to properly survey, excavate, and record a submerged site. The location of each artifact, in association with others, provided important clues to the ship's function, the lifestyle of its crew and passengers, and the manner in which it wrecked. Similar to a giant jigsaw puzzle, pieces of this early shipwreck may fit together to reveal clues to a chapter of Pensacola's maritime history that, until now, were lost in time.

Citizens of Pensacola, through a well-developed network of volunteer support, civic sponsorship, and community pride, contributed to this enterprise, which represents a welcome addition to a region of the state recognized for its cultural celebration.



In 1992, a BAR team conducted an underwater inventory of Pensacola Bay. The Pensacola Shipwreck Survey discovered the remains of a Spanish galleon from Tristan de Luna's 1559 attempt to settle the first major colony in modern day Florida. The state's oldest shipwreck was found with a magnetometer that detected an embedded anchor near a mound of ballast stones covering the ship's wooden hull.

Careful testing of the site has revealed a well-preserved, undisturbed shipwreck. Excavation of the stern and a small area amidships suggests that the vessel struck the edge of a shallow sandbar and was damaged beyond repair. The ship slowly settled into the sand, and for over 400 years its secrets were hidden in Pensacola Bay.

Tristan de Luna lost seven vessels from his fleet when a hurricane struck the fledgling settlement just five weeks after the colonists arrival. In addition to the Emanuel Point Ship, other vessels from the Luna fleet may lie submerged in Pensacola Bay.


Testing of the site, conducted during a 1993 University of West Florida (UWF) field school, exposed the well-preserved lower hull of the vessel and a variety of informative artifacts. Buried beneath centuries of silt and shell were the clues that archaeologists needed to identify this underwater time capsule.


The 1997 Campaign


The UWF team will excavate the vessel's bow, which is known to contain a copper cauldron, and is likely to reveal many interesting artifacts associated with the ship's galley. The anchor which first signaled the wreck's location will be raised and conserved for eventual display.

Uncovering the bow will enable archaeologists to locate the forward end of the keel. The length of the keel was a crucial measurement used by 16th-century shipbuilders to determine the vessel's overall length, breadth, and depth of hull. Knowledge of these dimensions together with research in Spanish archives may yield clues to the identity of this vessel.


Headquarters: The excavation headquarters are located in Pensacola's historic district at the Christie House, on loan to the Emanuel Point Ship Excavation project by the Historic Pensacola Preservation Board. Prior to its use as the field house, the Christie headquarters needed several repairs and renovations, for which First City Paint and Decorating provided paint supplies.

Dive Platform: While preparing the field headquarters, the excavation team and Diversified Manufacturing worked around the clock to build the dive platform or barge. During the day, under the direction of Captain Keith Plaskett (dive safety officer), Julie Tatum and Solomon Wahrhaftig (graduate interns), along with David Pugh (field tech) and J. "COZ" Cozzi (field director), built a barge from beginning to end. Members of Diversified Manufacturing's team worked on the barge nights and housed the barge while under construction. In the photo album, crew can be seen welding the barge together, as well as painting the name "Nautilus" on the stern. After three weeks, the barge was completed, and Pensacola Naval Air Station assisted with towing Nautilus to its present location over the shipwreck

Barge Construction

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Here you can see the skeleton of barge being built at Diversified Manufacturing. Interns later seal and paint the deck.


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Briefing at the Christie house, tools for excavation, and preparing to dive.

Topside Activities

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PAS Volunteer Harv Dickey records remains of stem, a selection of artifacts, and Dave Pugh fixes a screen.

Working Underwater

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J. Cozzi maps artifacts, Jim Spirek maps hull remains, intern Julie Tatum taking depths.


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Brass pestle, copper cauldron, and copper bucket are among the artifacts found.