Deep Sea Detectives: Slave Ship (Response Essay)

Essay by PhantomPhan0 April 2004

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Our assignment was to watch a documentary during Black History Month. I chose a documentary about recovering and examining a sunken slave ship found off the coast of Key West, Fl. The documentary was featured on The History Channel's series "Deep Sea Detectives."

Slave Ship

In mid-July of 1700, the Henrietta Marie, under the command of Captain Thomas Chamberlain, set sail from Port Royal, Jamaica; with a ship-load of goods bound for England. En route to its destination, the ship passed through the treacherous Florida Straits during the most dangerous time of the year: hurricane season. Caught in the midst of a monstrous gale, the Henrietta Marie was torn apart by massive coral heads, and promptly foundered. All hands and cargo were lost amidst the raging tempest.

A little over 300 years later, the wreck of a mysterious shipwreck was discovered, just off of Key West, by a team of divers led by Mel Fisher.

Everyone celebrated, believing it to be the infamous Spanish treasure galleon, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. But when divers started pulling up numerous pairs of shackles, the grim truth began to sink in. What they had discovered was not their treasure ship, but a cargo ship. A ship designed and outfitted for carrying human cargo. Mel Fisher's team had unearthed the wreck of the Henrietta Marie, one of the few slave ships ever found. So began the documentary of the Henrietta Marie as described on the History Channel's Deep Sea Detectives.

Watching it from a critical standpoint, I was disappointed at the extremely generalized information presented. The documentary gave very large amounts of data, but what they did provide wasn't specific enough to allow me to draw an in-depth response. For example, the life on board a slave ship was only briefly touched on...