Photograph: Comandante Augusto Salgado.
Fahrenheit 1759 - The Battle of Lagos
The Océan, a vessel of approximately 60 meters in length and armed with 80 cannons, , was the admiral ship of a French fleet of 14 vessels which was involved in a confrontation with the ponderous English Armada during the Seven Year War. The final chapter of what was known as the Battle of Lagos took place on 18th August 1959 at the forts of S. Luís de Almádena and Zavial, when the Océan and the Redoubtable sought the defence of the Portuguese artillery to sweep the beach and save more than 800 souls on board.
Swallowed in the mists of time, this story came to light again in the 1970's when the Océan was found and became the target of a salvage operation. It was not until 1984, with the first intervention and underwater archaeological study in Portugal, that more was discovered about the tragic maritime history of this imposing vessel, and an itine-rary was subsequently created that links the various stations of the wreck, describing its various parts and enabling divers to take a tour of the ruins.
Among the remains is the imposing "âncora de misericórdia" (anchor of mercy), around five and a half meters in length and weighing more than three tons, and some iron cannons (weighing eight, twelve and eighteen pounds), as well as a large pulley block and hitch, which was used in the iron bow. But the most fascinating thing is being able to find, partially hidden by the sand and concrete structures, the remains of the wooden skeleton of the old vessel, which has rested on the bottom of the ocean for 250 years.
Subnauta is proud to announce that as part of its publishing programme for the promotion of diving in the Algarve, it has published a book titled Fahrenheit 1759, a historic account of the Battle of Lagos, written by the prominent archaeologists Jean-Yves and Maria Luisa Blot.
To preview the content of the book, we are publishing the outline of this rich and comprehensive book by the authors themselve.“This book describes, analyses and reconstructs a naval battle fought more than two centuries ago in the sea of the Algarve between a French fleet from Toulon, in the Mediterranean, and a British fleet out of Gibraltar.
It all took place in August 1759, five years after the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon and affected most of the fortresses of the Western Algarve.
Begun on the high seas south of Cape Santa Maria, what came to be known as the battle 'of Lagos' ended between Sagres and Salema. The end of the battle near the beaches and cliffs was an arrogant, brutal violation of Portuguese neutrality, which led the marquis of Pombal to head another battle, this time diplomatic.
Two and a half centuries after the fighting, the protests and the underwater salvage by free-divers, the book offers the reader another way to visit this page of the Western Algarve today.
The book is therefore divided into five distinct sections. Each part can be read separately, and the more curious reader may consult the notes accompanying the entire text.
The first part describes the preparations and the prelude of the battle, emphasising the narrative, brilliant and naive, of a young African slave describing spurts of fire and blood of the adults in combat. This first part ends with the ordeal of the vanquished.
The second part explores the geometry of the fire after the fighting ended, and reconstitutes the fate of the wreckage of the ships. From the underwater salvage of the 18th century, the book moves on to the recoveries using diving suits in the late 1960s, to end up with present-day museologists and archaeology. Underwater tourism comes last and culminates, in 2010, as radically as unexpectedly, with geophysical prospecting around the vestiges of L'Océan, the flagship of the Toulon fleet.
Sounding like a police investigation, the third part outlines the path of the prospecting and locating the Redoutable, the French vice-admiral's ship, as real as invisible.
Much more than an appendix, the fourth and fifth parts are guides. They convey to the reader, diver or not, the way to visit, in loco, the landscape, the shadows and the traces of the events described in the first three parts.“
Jean-Yves e Maria Luisa Blot – Edições Subnauta