British warship has been discovered in Lake Ontario

The HMS Ontario, a British warship built in 1780, has been discovered in deep water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

In the early evening hours of October 31, 1780, the British sloop of war HMS Ontario sank with over 120 men, women, children and prisoners on board during a sudden and violent gale. The Ontario had departed earlier in the day from Fort Niagara, near the western end of Lake Ontario, for Oswego and then on to Fort Haldimand located on Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence River. The following day some of the Ontario’s boats, hatchway gratings, binnacle, compasses and several hats and blankets drifted ashore in the area that is known today as Golden Hill State Park, located 30 miles east of Fort Niagara in New York State. Following the reported loss of the Ontario, the British conducted a wide search of the area on land and water. A few days later only the ship’s sails were found adrift in the lake. In late July 1781, six bodies from the Ontario were found approximately 12 miles east of the Niagara River near Wilson, NY. This was the extent of the items ever found from the ship until its recent discovery.

The discovery of the HMS Ontario was made in early June utilizing sophisticated side scan sonar technology. The sonar imagery clearly shows a large sailing ship partially resting on one side, with two masts reaching up more than 70 feet above the lake bottom. The remains of two crow’s nests on each mast provided good confirmation that the sunken ship would be the brig-sloop Ontario. The ship was found between Niagara and Rochester, NY in an area of the lake where the depth extends to more than 500 feet. Due to the depth limitations for diving on this shipwreck, an underwater remote operated vehicle with deep dive capability, developed by Scoville, was utilized to explore and confirm the identity of the ship.

In the deep depth where the Ontario lies there is no visible light to illuminate the ship. A remote operated vehicle with on-board cameras and high intensity lighting was deployed to bring back images of the sunken shipwreck. The schooner was found sitting upright on the bottom leaning over to one side. The masts are still in place rising up over 70 feet from the bottom. A portion of the bowsprit remains and just below it there is a beautifully carved scroll bow stem. Two of the cannons are visible in the bow area but they have come loose from their original positions. Two of the large anchors are clearly visible. One anchor is still secure in its original position and the other has dropped off to the side of the ship. The most characteristic feature of this ship are the quarter galleries that are located on either side of the stern area of the HMS Ontario. A quarter gallery is a kind of balcony with windows that are typically placed on the sides of the stern-castle, a high, tower-like structure at the back of a ship that housed the officers’ quarters. Both quarter galleries are there with some of the window glass still in place. Under the ship’s tiller rests one of the small cannons that had been mounted on the stern deck of the ship. A few deadeyes and pulley blocks can be seen lying about in the wreckage. Many of the belaying pins that were used to secure lines are still located on the rails of the ship. All of the hatch covers and skylights are gone leaving a slight opening to the deck below, however, the ROV was not able to penetrate into the lower deck due to the silt that has been deposited over the years.

More here with pictures:

VIDEO: A segment of the underwater video of the Ontario.
Very cool!