There is a certain amount of confusion, if not controversy, about the positive identification of what is commonly called the China Wreck by local divers. What is certain is that some 10,000 pieces of pottery have been plucked from the wreck site, about a dozen miles off Cape Henlopen. Hence, its nickname, the China Wreck.
In all likelihood, the muddy, coral and salt-encrusted mound 39 feet down is the hulk that was once the proud Principessa Margherita di Piemonte, out of Naples, Italy. She was sailing from Plymouth, England to Philadelphia with her holds stacked securely with tons of stoneware and pottery. On March 12, 1891, the Principessa foundered and wrecked on Hen and Chickens Shoal.
Discovered by the NOAA vessels "Rude" and "Heck" in 1972. The ship's nearly two-ton anchor has been salvaged, and thousands of neatly packed ironstone earthenwarehas been recovered. Much of the pottery is marked and clearly identifiable as beingfrom British pottery makers of the late 1800's.