Ship building experts are preparing to reconstruct an ancient wreck discovered off the coast of Red Bay, Labrador.

The Basque whaling ship San Juan sunk in the area around 1565.

Archaeologist Robert Grenier, who discovered the wreckage in 1978, said the reconstruction will be one of the world's first.

"Transforming these 3,000 pieces of wood we found in Red Bay, Labrador, into a very faithful, precise scientific replica of the original – this is more than a dream come true for me," he said.

"This will be the first time that the Spanish or Basque galleon is reconstructed that way in the world."

Grenier said discovering the ship was not as easy as some people may believe.

"It's not the way people think it is – it's not like finding the Titanic with the name in print on the bow and [Leonardo] DiCaprio and his girlfriend on the bow. It's a pile of wood with no name on it," he said.

"Suddenly, I could see that I was touching – I was seeing – the 16th century."

Xabi Agote, a Basque ship expert, will be undertaking the reconstruction.

He said it's an ambitious project, with special significance for an event taking place in the Basque region in the year 2016.

"It will sail all over Europe as a floating ambassador of the [Basque] culture," Agote said.

"Then, in 2017, we would like to contribute to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada as a country... We are now establishing the first contact with Canadians in order to make that possible."

Grenier said the Basque have named him the godfather of the ship.