Three shipwreck explorers have uncovered the wreck of the sloop, Washington, in Lake Ontario off the shores of Oswego, New York. It sank during a storm in 1803.

The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Ohio, USA, has announced that a team of underwater explorers have uncovered the Washington.

It is believed to be the oldest discovered commercial shipwreck in the Great Lakes.

The Washington, also known as Lady Washington, sank during a gale in Oswego, New York, in 1803.

The sloop was the first ship to be built on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.

The shipwreck was discovered by Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowksi and Roland Stevens.

They found it during an underwater survey funded by the national museum.

“The sloop Washington is the oldest fully intact commercial sailing vessel to have been lost and found in the Great Lakes,” writes Kennard in Shipwreck World.

“It was the first sloop built on Lake Erie and the first to sail in both Lakes Erie and Ontario,” he explained.

“Sloops only existed for a limited period of time on the Great Lakes as they were replaced by schooners which had two or more masts and were much more efficient to operate,” added Kennard.

Built in 1797, the 53-foot Washington made its first voyage in 1798.

The sloop was later sold to a group of Canadian merchants and was transported around Niagara Falls to Lake Ontario.

To do this, the ship was mounted on runners.

Rollers and a team of oxen were then used to pull the vessel over the strip of land between Chippawa to Queenston to reach Lake Ontario.

The loss of the Washington in 1803 during a voyage from Kingston to Niagara claimed the lives of all the crew and passengers on board.

Around $20,000 worth of cargo from East India was also lost.

According to Kennard, reports of the day stated several articles of cargo, pieces of wreckage and Washington’s yawl were found on shore near Oswego.

Kennard and his team used a VideoRay Pro IV underwater remote operated vehicle to find the shipwreck during an expedition in June.

Radar like images of the sloop were taken, allowing the team to obtain precise measurements of the ship.

This is significant, as previously there were no drawings or half hull models of the Washington for archaeologists to study.

“Now with imagery and measurements there is a better understanding of the design of this very rare 18th century sailing vessel,” said Kennard.

The oldest vessel found in the Great Lakes is HMS Ontario, a British warship that sank in Lake Ontario in 1780.

It was discovered by Kennard and his team in 2008.