Colombia’s army has shared unexpected images of the iconic San Jose galleon shipwreck that remained hidden and underwater for about three centuries. It is believed to be loaded with riches worth billions of dollars.
Four observation missions used a vehicle that was remotely operated and was sent to the wreck at a depth of about 950 meters off the coast of Colombia’s Caribbean, the army mentioned in its statement on Monday.
The missions, conducted under the culture ministry by the navy, found the galleon to be untouched by “human intervention.”
Cannons partially blanketed by mud are visible along with gold pieces, porcelain crockery, glass bottles, and pottery.
A part of the bow covered in shellfish and algae is visible. The remains of the hull frame are also there.
Authorities have reported that they had discovered two other shipwrecks during the mission — a schooner and a colonial-era galleon from the post-colonial period.
Ivan Duque, the President said that due to advanced technological equipment and the work of the Colombian Navy, they were able to capture photographs with a precision that were never seen before. He added that the wreck was kept intact and secured with a view for future retrieval.
When that happens, Colombia will encounter challenges from Spain and an indigenous group in Bolivia to finalize who gets to keep the bounty.
Lost for 300 years
The Spanish crown owned the San Jose galleon when it was sunk near Cartagena by the British navy in 1708.
Only about a handful of the 600-strong crew members managed to survive.
It was departing from the New World to the court of King Philip V of Spain.
At that time, it was laden with treasures that, in today’s money, are estimated to be worth at least billions of dollars.
Before its discovery in 2015, it was sought for a long by treasure hunters.
Experts presume that it contains about 200 tons of silver, emeralds, and gold.
Colombia considers wrecks discovered in the country’s territorial waters to be part of the country’s cultural heritage, indicating that the content cannot be sold off.
Spain claims that the bounty is theirs as it was on a Spanish ship. Again, Bolivia’s Qhara Qhara says it should be the owner of the treasures as the Spanish forced the people to mine those precious metals.
When the wreck was finally discovered, Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president said that it was the most precious treasure to be unearthed in the history of the world.
He put forward a proposal to finance the recovery mission with proceeds fetched from selling a part of the find. However, Duque prevented that to make sure that the entirety of the wreck remains in Colombia.
Colombian authorities have announced their wish to create a museum comprising shipwrecks and have added that those would be a source of pride for the Caribbean, Colombia, and the rest of the world.
Owing to its depth, attempts to recover the wreck resulted in scientific and technological challenges.
Authorities have identified 13 additional sites off the Cartagena coast that they desire exploring to discover other such unique shipwrecks.
References- 6 South Florida, Hindustan Times