The Santa Lucia was wrecked off Bermuda on 11 January 1584. Captained by Juan Lopez, she had been part of a fleet of ships that had left Spain for the Indies in 1583. She was not carrying any merchandise or treasure and her function was that of a courier ship, carrying government, financial and private documents, as well as gathering information on the progress and condition of the fleet, and of the various port cities visited. Once the fleet reached Vera Cruz in Mexico, she was to return home as soon as possible. However, en route from Vera Cruz, via Havana, to Spain, she ran into a storm and was unable to negotiate Bermuda’s reef-strewn waters.
Her wreck was not discovered until 1964 and originally she was believed to be the store ship LA Viga, which had wrecked in 1639. Known as the Western Ledge Reef Wreck, the Santa Lucia’s remains have been extremely well preserved, mainly because of the largest ballast pile that covered her lower hull section. During the sixteenth century around twenty Spanish ships ran aground on Bermuda’s treacherous reefs. A number of these have been found, and several studied archaeologically, but none have provided such a detailed picture of sixteenth-century Spanish ships as the Santa Lucia.