MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has filed a claim to preserve the wreckage of the Clotilda, the last-known slave ship in the United States.

The Alabama Historical Commission filed the claim Friday in federal court in Mobile. The claim is an attempt to prevent salvagers from disturbing the ship or taking artifacts from it.

In 1860, the wooden ship illegally transported 110 people from what is now the west African nation of Benin to Mobile. The Clotilda was then taken into delta waters and burned to avoid detection.

The captives were later freed and settled a community that's still called Africatown USA.

Researchers this year announced they had discovered the ship's wreckage.

The commission's executive director, Lisa D. Jones, says they are "ensuring this tremendously important archaeological find is preserved and protected."

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