Christopher Columbus Ships: Vessels that Discovered America

Christopher Columbus might have discovered America but Christopher Columbus’ ships are the ones that deserve the primary recognition. In an era where ships were the only fastest mode of transport to travel across the world, Christopher Columbus Ships revolutionized the entire concept of ship travel completely.In the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain, he had the very important support of three ships which are now famously known as Christopher Columbus Ships, and his ships’ crewmen. With such support, Christopher Columbus finally managed to discover America and put the existence of a very important nation in the map of the world.

The Ships

Santa Maria, Niña and the Pinta were the three Christopher Columbus Ships that have gained immense popularity and recognition in the modern times, not just because they helped Christopher Columbus find out about an entire nation but also because they gave water transport a new sense of achievement and purpose, especially today when water transport is not as popular as it was used to be earlier.

Out of the three Christopher Columbus Ships, Santa Maria was the adventurer’s flagship. To put it in non-marine terms, a flagship is like a leader. Therefore it can be simply said that out of the three Christopher Columbus Ships, Santa Maria was the leader-ship. A cargo ship weighing around 200-600 tons and measuring about 18 meters in length, 12 meters keel lengthwise, six meters beam wise and two meters draft wise, the Santa Maria had a crew of about 52 members. The original name of the Santa Maria was La Gallega, in reference to the place where the ship was built, but Christopher Columbus changed the name of the ship to Santa Maria de la Immaculate Concepción or in short – just Santa Maria.



Features wise, Santa Maria had three main masts each with sails. These masts were known as the mainmast, the foremast and the mizzenmast. And while this ship had these positive attributes, the main negative attribute about this ship was that its built did not allow Santa Mari to sail near the shallow waters and the coral reefs, thus providing a ship with a handicap.

However, the other two ships Niña and Pinta solved the disadvantage that the flagship of the Christopher Columbus Ships provided and helped the adventurer to complete his adventure quite successfully. Niña, in Spanish means a girl and Pinta refers to the excessive paint job that was done to the third of the Christopher Columbus ships.

Niña and Pinta were caravel ships. Caravel ships were designed just to beat the disadvantage of sailing in the shallow waters and coral reefs that ships like Santa Maria encountered and were lightweight and easy to maneuver around. Around 18 crewmen formed the shipping entourage of the Niña and the Pinta. Of all the three Christopher Columbus Ships, the Pinta was the fastest reaching to a maximum top speed of about 8 knots a day (around 200 miles) while Santa Maria was the slowest, owing to its larger size.



Size wise, the Niña weighed around 50 -60 tons and measured around 15 meters lengthwise, 12 meters keel lengthwise, five meters beam wise and two meters depth wise. The Pinta on the other hand weighed around 70 tons and measured around 17 meters lengthwise, 13 meters keel lengthwise, five meters beam wise and two meters depth wise

The Niña and the Pinta were offered as levy by the Royal Crown of Spain to Christopher Columbus because of a rule which spoke about asking of levy as punishment if and when the citizens had done a wrong deed against the Spanish Royalty. Furthermore, four of the crewmen on the Christopher Columbus Ships were criminals who were offered amnesty in lieu of their volunteering to be a part of the voyage by the Spanish Crown.  Thus with the help of the Spanish Royalty and Christopher Columbus, the three Christopher Columbus Ships pioneered their way into the oceanic waters, cruised and discovered a whole huge country in the West.

In today’s times, when air travel has become the norm and reaching out to the moon has become an ordinary achievements, the successful adventure of Christopher Columbus and Christopher Columbus Ships is a piece of history, that any person anywhere in the world will want to know and be eager about.

If you liked this article, you may also like to read- The Ferdinand Magellan contribution & Legendary ship Mayflower.


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  1. tony says

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  2. Daisy says

    I loved it! Im doing a sose prodgect and we are doing reaserch on explorers. it is brilliant, I would recommend it to teachers and students.

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