Replica of Columbus ship sinks in Texas

Ship sunk in harbor once before

By Amanda Jackson, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

Replica of Columbus ship La Niña sinks in harbor in Texas.

Corpus Christi, Tex. - The replica Columbus ship La Niña, located in Texas, sank to the bottom of the marina on Tuesday.

The ship, made in Spain, took on water sometime in the early hours of Tuesday and now sits on the muddy bottom of the Corpus Christi marina.

"She sank fast, but she is a survivor," said Kim Mrazek, president of the Columbus Sailing Association, which helps maintain the ship.

The city of Corpus Christi owns the boat and is sending divers in to assess the damage this week. Mrazek said she suspects it might be a rusty nail that caused a board to become loose.

"She is strong," said Mrazek. "She was built four times stronger than she needed to be built."

The ship is the last remaining of the replica Columbus fleet that came to Corpus Christi in 1992. The fleet was a gift to the city from the government of Spain and sailed across the Atlantic to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first Columbus voyage. In 2014, the replicas of La Pinta and La Santa Maria were deemed too costly to repair and were destroyed.

This isn't the first time the 75-foot-long and 20-foot-wide ship sank in the marina. After Hurricane Harvey hit the area in 2017, the ship took on water and partially sank because its water pumps were off.

"The pumps were electric and the electricity was off due to the hurricane," said Mrazek. "She stayed that way for three months until we had the funds to bring her back up."

While it's unknown how long the repair process will take, the ship was set to embark on a journey to Aransas Pass, a city about 20 miles away, later this month to undergo some needed restoration.

When the ship was in its prime, people were able to sail around the Corpus Christi bay in it. Mrazek first started working on the ship in 1995 when it was in sailing condition. During that time, she learned and now teaches 15th century sailing techniques. She hopes the ship will be restored and able to sail again in the future.

CNN's Nicole Williams contributed to this report.

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