Early Sixteenth-century Shipbuilding in Mexico: Dimensions and tonnages of the vessels designed for Pacific Ocean navigation

By Jose L. Casabán & Roberto Junco, published August 2020


Shortly after the conquest of Mexico, Cortes ordered the construction of a shipyard in Tehuantepec (Oaxaca), on the Pacific coast, known as El Carbón. This article examines a document dated to 1535 which provides the principal dimensions, tonnages, and construction characteristics of three navíos (ships) designed and built in this shipyard for Pacific Ocean navigation. The ships’ dimensions are given in Portuguese goas and palmos instead of Spanish codos, and the tonnages indicated in Spanish botas and pipas from Seville. The term navío appears to designate a specific ship type rather than being a generic word to refer ships.

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Filed under: Early Modern | Pacific
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

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