The combined efforts of Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and researchers at the Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa have led to the discovery that it was cannon fire that sank a 19th century warship off the coast of Acre, in the north of Israel. The ship was discovered in 1966. Riddles to be solved included its origins, age and the reason it sank. A map drawn up by a British officer in 1799, during Napoleon’s siege of Acre, led to the assumption that it was a blockship sunk by the British to bar French vessels from entering the port. A team of Rafael engineers developed a unique model that enabled firing experiments to be carried out on a reduced scale, thereby lowering costs of the usually expensive and complex re-enactments. The experiment was carried out at a scale of 1:2, for which five models of the ship’s hull, based on the archaeological findings, were constructed. Rafael adapted an experimental gun to fire steel balls, modeled on the cannon balls and set the range of muzzle velocities at that of the period – 100-500 meters per second. The experiments showed that despite the hull’s strength it could not withstand the impact of the cannon fire. The results of this experiment are of much significance to the study of the vessel and of naval battles in this period, according to the researchers.
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