Digital Library

Saona 3 (c. 1550)

Filipe Castro


Country: Dominican Republic

Place: Isla Saona

Coordinates: Lat: 18. 097294; Long: -68.662311

Dated: c. 1550

Description of Wreck

Between January and July 1983, treasure hunter Burt Webber carried out a survey in the Mona Passage, between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, looking for a treasure supposedly carried by one of the vessels of the fleet of Nicolás Ovando, sunk by a hurricane in 1502.

Positions of the three Saona shipwrecks sites (Turner 1994).

Among the sites found, three were particularly interesting for their artillery collection, and inspired an MA Thesis at Texas A&M University (Turner 1994).  Heavy iron objects such as wrought-iron artillery and anchors were located and Turner believes that as these sites appeared to have been unsalvaged, their guns possibly represented complete artillery collections.

Webber partially salvaged two of the sites, removing a number of guns that are very difficult to locate, if they have survived at all, but Turner recorded and published all the guns he had access to.


Site 3 was found in a visual survey and spread along 800 m and formed two major deposits. It lied in 3-8 m of water, and was contaminated with materials from two other shipwrecks, one from the 19th century and modern steel-hulled sailing vessel.

Saona 3 shipwreck site (Turner 1994).

The first deposit consisted of two versos, and two long tubes, possibly cerbatanas, two anchors, and two powder chambers. The second deposit consisted of four versos.  No major ballast pile was found in the area, possibly because the 16th century ballast pile was mixed with the 19th century ballast pile found in situ.

The treasure hunters did not raise any major artifacts from this site.


Turner, S., 1994. Saona Artillery: Implications for Inter-Island Trade and Shipboard Armaments in the First Half of the Sixteenth Century. MA Thesis, Texas A&M University.