Texas Maritime Museum

Maritime History Unearthed: Oldest Shipwrecks on the Texas Coast

Maritime History, Shipwrecks

Photo by Harrison H1 Clock Credit Flickr

Maritime History Unearthed: Oldest Shipwrecks on the Texas Coast

Did you know?

The oldest shipwrecks in the United States are submerged off the Texas Coast.

In 1554, four ships, the San Andres, San Esteban, Espiritu Santo, and Santa Maria de Yciar, set sail from Veracruz with that year’s silver for the Castilian Empire of Spain. The ships were almost across the Gulf of Mexico when they were caught by a spring gale, which drove them west to the Texas Coast. Three of the four ships were driven on the shoals near South Padre Island and tragically wrecked.

Of those aboard the three wrecked ships, less than half, 150 men, women, and children survived to reach shore.

At the time this was the greatest disaster to ever befall the Spanish fleet in the New World.

The three ships that wrecked (the Santa Maria de Yciar, the Espiritu Santo, and the San Esteban) are the oldest shipwrecks in the US.

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1554 Wrecks, Shipwrecks, Spanish Fleet

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Since 1989, the Texas Maritime Museum has been your portal to the treasures of Texas maritime history, preserving and sharing the seafaring stories that define our coastal heritage.


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