History to Chart Expedition for Christopher Columbus' Lost Santa Maria

Underwater expert Barry Clifford believes he has found the explorer's long-lost ship off the northern coast of Haiti.

History Channel is setting its sights on Christopher Columbus' lost ship.

The cable network and October Films have snagged exclusive rights to the marine investigators' exploration of what they believe to be the wreckage site of Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria, which sunk on Christmas Day in 1492 in the Caribbean. History will air the expedition at a later date.

A team led by underwater archaeologist Barry Clifford believes they have indeed located the ship's remains off the coast of Haiti. In the coming months, Clifford plans to hold further investigations of the wreckage site to confirm that it is the Santa Maria.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggest that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship,” Clifford said. “I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America.”

“We’re excited to partner with October Films on what could be the discovery of the century,” said Dirk Hoogstra, executive vp and general manager of History and H2. “Its not everyday where we get an opportunity to be a part of a potential history defining expedition. We look forward to telling the story of the Santa Maria and seeing what Barry Clifford uncovers.”

The Santa Maria was used in 1492 when Columbus went across the Atlantic and discovered the New World. On Christmas Eve, the ship crashed on a coral reef in the northern coast of Haiti. Columbus wrote about the wreck and the aftermath, but the ship's final location had remained unknown for centuries.

Clifford and his team used two pieces of historical information to pinpoint the ship's location, cross-checking it with Columbus' journal. They were led to a site they had initially discovered more than a decade ago in 2003.

Clifford has investigated more than 400 seabed anomalies off the coast of Haiti.