Divers locate world's oldest known slave ship only to find it run over by trawlers

Kramer Wimberley says he had mixed feelings when he and his dive team found the wreckage of the oldest known slave ship at the bottom of the English Channel.

On the one hand, they'd found exactly what they were looking for. On the other, the historic grave site was completely run over by modern-day fishing trawlers.

"You could see the strafing lines they had just raked across the entirety of the ocean bottom, breaking up and moving cannons out of place," Wimberley told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"The knowledge that trawlers are in the process of destroying that vessel is really disturbing."

Wimberley with a tusk saved from the Royal African Company shipwreck. (Joshua Williams/Cornelia Street Productions )

The 1680s Royal African Company trade ship was enormous, carrying 48 cannons, 600 tonnes of weight, a crew of 70 and countless enslaved people, according to the Guardian. The shipwreck is seen as their burial ground.

Wimberley is one of the first people to visit the wreckage, located some 64 kilometres south of Land's End and 110 metres below the Atlantic Ocean.

He is lead instructor of the maritime archeology program Diving With a Purpose, a scuba diving team dedicated to preserving the ruins of slave ships along international coastlines. 

For the last two years, the divers were joined by journalists working on the documentary series Enslaved,which includes footage from this shipwreck along with other stories about the transatlantic slave trade. The six-part series is airing ....

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