The Gloucester ran aground off the coast of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1682, nearly killing the Duke of York, who became King James II of England.
The find, which was discovered by divers in 2007, has only just been revealed due to security reasons.
The Gloucester’s exact whereabouts were a mystery until it was discovered 15 years ago half-buried in the seabed 28 miles (45km) out to sea, having sunk while navigating treacherous sandbanks.
The disaster, in which hundreds of passengers and crew died, threatened to change the course of history.
However, the then Duke of York fled the sinking ship with moments to spare and went on to become the Catholic heir to the Protestant throne in an era marked by religious and political unrest.
IMAGE SOURCE,WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Although the team discovered the 340-year-old shipwreck in 2007, it was not until the ship’s bell was recovered in 2012 that the Receiver of Wreck and Ministry of Defence decisively identified it.
Since then the “at risk” site - in international waters - has had to be protected, which is why the discovery is only now being made public and its exact location undisclosed.
Launched in 1654 with 54 guns and 280 crew, The Gloucester is the only surviving third-rate Cromwellian warship.
It took part in multiple battles and became part of the Royal Navy fleet after 1660, when King Charles II was restored to the throne.
The shipwreck is split down the keel, with remains of the hull submerged in sand, and it is not known how much of it is intact. There are no plans to raise any part of it.
The Gloucester had set sail from Portsmouth to Edinburgh to allow the Duke of York to conduct royal business at the Scottish Parliament.
It struck a sandbank during a strong gale 28 miles (45km) off Great Yarmouth on the morning of 6 May 1682 and sank within an hour.
The Duke of York and John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough, were rescued in the ship’s boat.
While some of the estimated 330 people on board were rescued by boats from the fleet, it is believed between 130 and 250 sailors and passengers perished.
Witnesses claimed the future King saved Catholic priests and his dogs over courtiers and crew, and, given that a royal had to leave a ship first, caused countless deaths by delaying his escape.
He accepted no responsibility for the tragedy - despite arguing over the ship’s course, as former Lord High Admiral - and blamed the pilot, who was later imprisoned.
The Duke of York went on to become King James II of England and Ireland (and King James VII of Scotland) in 1685, on his brother’s death.
The reign of King James II - a Catholic - was marked by political and religious turmoil and he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
The revolution created a new type of state, contributed greatly to the modern world and might not have happened had he died at sea.
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good but then every cloud has a silver lining …
The course of history …
It’s an amazing find, though and presumably will keep divers, archaeologists and historians occupied for years …