Poor Language Skills May Have Caused 16th-Century Wreck

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The Mary Rose, pride of Henry VIII's fleet, may have sunk because of poor communication between its English officers and foreign crew members, researchers said yesterday. Examination of skulls, which were found near the 16th-century wreck, has revealed the ship was mainly crewed by foreign sailors, either mercenaries or Spanish prisoners of war. Historians have always believed the warship, pictured, sank when it performed a sharp turn during a battle with the French in July, 1545, and heeled so steeply that water flooded through its open gun ports. But the new theory suggests the gun ports may have been open because the crew spoke little English and did not understand orders to close them as the ship's commander took evasive action.


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