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Has Columbus' Santa Maria finally been found?!

  • 'This is the ship that changed the course of human history,' underwater explorer Barry Clifford tells CNN
  • Clifford is confident that remains found off Haiti are Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria
Has Columbus' Santa Maria finally been found?!

Could a sunken shipwreck off Haiti be the long-lost remains of Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria?

Barry Clifford, an underwater explorer who led the team that found the wreck, is pretty confident that it is Columbus' flagship from his first voyage to the Americas. The Santa Maria accidentally ran aground a couple of months after Columbus set foot on Haiti in 1492. The explorer headed back to Spain the following year with only the Nina and the Pinta. The location of the Santa Maria has remained unknown.

If Clifford is correct, then his discovery could help solve a 500-year-old mystery and go down as one of the most significant underwater archeological discoveries ever made!

Here's a look at how long it took to find some other famous ship wrecks and plane crashes:

1744: Storm takes down ship carrying millions in gold

The H.M.S. Victory was taken down by a violent storm as it returned to England in 1744. The British warship was secretly carrying tons of gold coins. It wasn't until 2008 -- more than 250 years later -- that the Odyssey Marine Expedition discovered the remains of the ship and the more than 1,000 sailors on board.

1912: The Titanic's tragic maiden voyage

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic infamously hit an iceberg, snapped in half and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It took seven decades for the wreckage to be discovered. Several teams had made attempts, but it was Robert Ballard's 1985 mission that finally found the great ship. He had less than two weeks to find the wreckage.

Read more: Flight 370 is lost, it is not 'Lost'

1937: Amelia Earhart disappears during round-the-world flight

It was her final challenge and one she wanted to undertake as she neared her 40th birthday: become the first woman to fly around the world. On July 2, Earhart took off with her navigator. The pair vanished over the Pacific Ocean. The United States gave up looking for the plane after spending millions of dollars to search hundreds of thousands of miles of ocean. We will likely never know exactly what happened.

1957: "Romance of the Skies" crashes over the Pacific

The Boeing 377 was en route from San Francisco to Honolulu -- the first leg of a round-the-world journey -- when it crashed. It only took a few days to find the wreckage. All of the 44 people on board were killed. Investigators found "no probable cause" for the crash, but did find elevated levels of carbon monoxide in several of the recovered bodies.

Read more: 94-minute mystery: Timeline of Flight 370

1975: Great Lakes freighter mysteriously sinks

All crew members aboard the SS Edmund Fitzgerald died when it sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The ship's wreckage was found just a few days later, but it took about seven months to officially identify it. The cause of the ship's sinking is still unknown to this day, although there are several theories floating around.

1999: Officials point the finger at a pilot

All 217 on board a Boeing 767 were killed when the plane, which was on its way from New York to Cairo, Egypt, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. By the next day, searches had recovered evacuation slides, clothing, passports, life rafts and at least one body. It was a little more than a week later when the plane's voice recorder box was found. The NTSB concluded that a pilot intentionally downed EgyptAir flight 990. Investigators said any possible mechanical failure was inconsistent with the downward trajectory of the plane. The cockpit voice recorder also captured the pilot sounding unsurprised when the plane started to go down and he kept saying "I rely on God" as they crashed. Egyptian officials, however, have pointed to supposed mechanical failures.

Read more: Malaysia flight 370: What do you think happened?

2009: It takes years to finally get an answer

Air France Flight 447 was en route from Brazil to France when it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people on board. Some of the plane's debris was discovered within a few days. But it took four searches over two years to find the bulk of the wreckage and the majority of the bodies, which were hidden in a mountain range deep under the ocean. French officials released a final report on the disaster in 2012, which blamed the crash on errors by pilots who failed to react effectively to technical problems. Ice crystals had blocked the plane's pitot tubes, which are used to determine air speed, according to the report. When the autopilot disconnected, the pilots didn't know how to respond, according to officials.

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