Investigating The Wreck Site - Update

Investigating The Wreck Site - Update

The last time I informed my readers about the slave ship Leusden was back in 2014; This doesn't mean nothing has been happening, it's just that sometimes I feel it is better to wait until there is real news to report. I think this is a good moment to do just that.

In 2013 a plan was discussed about the possibility of searching for the ship wrecked Leusden in the estuary of the Maroni river in Suriname. This discussion took place in Amsterdam and was the idea of professor Jerzy Gawronski. Jerzy is ( among other things ) a maritime archeologist. He also introduced me to Steven Moore, who just so happened to be diving with Jerzy years ago. Steven Moore is now the owner and director of Underwater Technical Services. So moving forward this website is not just the work of I, but us, who I will refer to as the team.

What happened in 2013:

April 8th - 15th, 2013

In April Jerzy and I went off to Suriname to scout. We knew that although the massacre took place in Suriname, not many people are aware of this fact, this is because many stories from the slavery period are silenced; the people who wrote the history books did not like to mention facts that did not suit them, or they simply decided these points were not of importance. We were introduced to Surinamese television broadcasting and had a few press interviews with Suriname newspapers. This was all made possible through the assistance of Cynthia Mc Leod, a famous Surinamese writer who has thorough knowledge into the history of slavery in her country. We also took some time to explain to official authorities to explain the goals of our visit. We had good conversation with the Surinamese Maritime Authority (MAS) and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. MAS is responsible for inspection and management of nautical works in Suriname waters. MAS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave us permission to undertake or exploration. The Dutch Embassy in Paramaribo was also of great assistance in making this all possible.

By carrying out the scout in April gave us the information we needed to determine that it would be possible to do a survey in the estuary of the Maroni river; the surroundings where the Leusden was stranded and captives massacred. From MAS we learned that August would be the best time to carry out the survey as that time of year offered ideal weather conditions to carry out the work.

August 14th - 24th, 2013

After our previous visit in April it was decided that a reconnaissance test survey would be possible.

A plan to undertake a reconnaissance test survey in the summer was formed early 2013 by the team. The aim of the test survey was to assess the feasibility of mobilising a full marine survey to locate the wrecked Leusden in the future.

The test survey was financially supported by the Dutch Centre for International Cultural Cooperation in Amsterdam, the Maritime Programme of Cultural Heritage an Agency of the Netherlands and the royal Dutch Embassy in Paramaribo. Survey equipment and expertise was provided by Plymouth university through the support of MSc. Hydrography students Arthur Laloe and James Hancock. The project was locally coordinated in Suriname by Mrs Cynthia McLeod, Paramaribo.

Slave Ship Leusden - Survey Site
Survey Site

The Suriname Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BUZA) granted permission to execute a survey in the Suriname territory of the Maroni river mouth. The nautical preparations were locally organised in close cooperation with the Maritime Authority of Suriname (MAS). Staff members of MAS attended the survey on site for the first two days. The license for the prospection on French Guiana territory was issued by the Department of Underwater Archaeological Research in Marseille (DRASSM), responsible for the French underwater cultural heritage and by the direction of Guyana Cultural Affairs who are responsible for the archeology of French Guiana.

The results of the test survey lead us to believe that a new more extensive survey will give us enough information to lead us to the precise location of the Leusden wreck.

Share This:

Leo Balai

About Leo Balai

Leonard (Leo) Balai (Paramaribo/Suriname 1946) studied law and public administration at the University of Amsterdam. After his graduation he was active in various fields. He was a member of the City Council of Amsterdam for almost 11 years. He took his PhD with a thesis on the slave ship Leusden and the West India Company.