A hurricane sank a fleet in Pensacola Bay 450 years ago, dooming the first major European attempt to colonize North America, a story that archaeologists are just now fleshing out
On August 15, 1559, the bay now known as Pensacola slowly filled with a curious fleet of 11 Spanish vessels, their decks crammed with an odd mix of colonists and holds filled to bursting with supplies and ceramic jars of olive oil and wine from Cadiz. Aboard the 570-ton flagship Jesus stood the wealthy and ambitious Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano, with direct orders from the king of Spain to establish a permanent colony in La Florida. The rest of the fleet included two galleons, beamy cargo ships known as naos , small barques, and a caravel.
North America had never before seen anything like it on this scale.