New Zealand

‘Holy Grail of shipwrecks’ worth $20 billion in treasure to be raised from seabed

Colombia shares unprecedented images of treasure-laden shipwreck.

Iván Duque/ President of Colombia/Facebook

Colombia shares unprecedented images of treasure-laden shipwreck.

A shipwreck with $33 billion NZD ($20bn USD) worth of treasure is set to be recovered from the sea 300 years after the British navy sunk it.

The galleon San José was part of the fleet of King Philip V when it was sunk by the Royal Navy in 1708 during the War of Spanish Succession. At the time of her sinking, she was said to be laden with loot, including emeralds and millions of solid gold coins.

The wreck, currently lying in the Caribbean sea close to the port city of Catagena, has been described as the “holy grail of shipwrecks”– and its secrets could soon be brought to the surface after three centuries beneath the waves.

Now, Colombia is ramping up its efforts to raise the ship and cash in on the billions of dollars currently lurking in the murky depths, Bloomberg reports.

President Gustavo Petro ordered his administration to exhume the “holy grail of shipwrecks” – the Spanish galleon San José – from the bottom of the Caribbean Sea as soon as possible.

Petro hopes to bring the 62-gun, three-masted ship to the surface before his term is up in 2026 and has requested a public-private partnership be formed to see it through, Minister of Culture Juan David Correa told Bloomberg last week.

“This is one of the priorities for the Petro administration,” he said. “The president has told us to pick up the pace.”

The vessel went down on 8 June, 1708, with 600 people on board as well as a treasure of gold, silver and emeralds during a battle with British ships in the War of Spanish Succession. The treasure is worth as much as US$20 billion (NZD$34.46bn) experts say.

It was discovered in 2015 by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution but ownership is disputed by Spain, Colombia and Bolivia’s indigenous Qhara Qhara nation.

Spain, citing a UNESCO convention, claims rights to the destroyed ship since it belonged to the Spanish navy three centuries ago and the remains of hundreds of Spanish sailors lie in the wreckage.

The Qhara Qhara indigenous group in present-day Bolivia says they should get the treasure, since Spanish colonisers forced their ancestors to mine some of the precious metals they say were aboard.

Colombia also faces a $10 billion claim from US company Glocca Morra which claims to have discovered the wreck in 1981 and handed its co-ordinates to the Colombian government on the promise of half the cargo’s value.

Colombia claims a search of the co-ordinates produced nothing but the company – now called Sea Search Armada – believes the country found the wreck in the same debris field it had discovered 34 years earlier.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button