Explorer claims sunken vessel

Barry Clifford

By Donna Goodison - Boston Herald.com

Underwater explorer Barry Clifford, discoverer of the Whydah pirate ship that sank off Cape Cod in 1717, has his sights on another shipwreck.

The Provincetown treasure hunter is petitioning state and federal authorities to lay claim to the Semiramis - an estimated 120-foot, three-masted ship armed with 14 cannons that sank between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in 1804.

Built in the mid-1790s, the Semiramis is important from a historical standpoint because she was one of the first China traders, according to Clifford.

The ship was headed to Newport, R.I., after a three-year voyage to China with a cargo - estimated to be worth $500,000 at the time - of silk, porcelain, tea and an undetermined amount of hard currency in the form of silver and possibly gold, according to research by Clifford’s historian, Ken Kinkor.

“I have no idea what that would be worth today,” said Clifford, who’s putting together an expedition to survey the shipwreck with Falmouth-based Teledyne Benthos.

“There was only supposed to be minor salvage done to the shipwreck at the time. I would suspect that much of the ship is buried under the sand and would be in very good condition.”

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