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Great Lakes Exploration team possibly discovers oldest shipwreck in the Great Lakes

Marc Duncan

The team looking for the oldest shipwreck in the Great Lakes says there’s a “high probability” they’ve found it.

Steve Libert released a book this week that details his hunt for the wreck of The Griffin.

The French ship, The Griffin, disappeared in 1679 bearing a load of furs across northern Lake Michigan.

New photos on Libert's website show the frame of a large boat on the bottom of Lake Michigan. He says everything about it suggests it’s a colonial-era sailing ship.

“When you look at this, there is nothing on that vessel that I can find that says it's a modern day vessel," Libert said.

The group, made of members of of Great Lakes Exploration, released a book this week detailing their discovery of the site, which is off the Garden Peninsula in the UP. The wreck is a few miles from a site Libert excavated with French archeologists in 2013.

Allen Pernter, a shipwright and a diver from Northport, has been studying boats since the 1950s and also thinks the discovery is genuine.

“These frames in this boat are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before," Pernter said.

To confirm they’ve found the remains of The Griffin the team will need permits from the State of Michigan to excavate the site so archeologists can confrim their discovery, but Michigan has denied his request for permits to do so; relations between Great Lakes Exploration and the state have been contentious. 

The group previously fought in federal court for more than a decade over claims to another site the group worked on.