‘Holy grail of shipwrecks’ to be raised along with $20bn of treasure

In World


The ‘Holy Grail of shipwrecks’ is set to be recovered from the bottom of the ocean – along with its treasures which are believed to be worth up to $20bn in today’s money.

The Colombian government said the San Jose, which was sunk by the British navy in 1708 off the port of Cartagena, would be recovered as a matter of urgency.

The ship is thought to have sunk with a huge amount of treasure aboard, including 200 tonnes of silver, emeralds and eleven million gold coins.

When the wreck was discovered in November 2015, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the treasure was “the most valuable that has been found in the history of humanity.”

The San Jose was discovered by a team of navy divers in 2015 lying nearly 3,100 feet below the ocean’s surface.

Pictures taken of the wreck by navy divers last year show the wreck is still perfectly preserved, despite lying on the ocean’s floor for more than three centuries.

The Colombian government said the ship will be brought above water before President Gustavo Petro ends his term of office in 2026.

The San Jose was discovered by a team of navy divers in 2015

(Colombian Armada)

The ship sank along with its treasures which are believed to be worth up to $20billion in today’s money

(Colombian Armada)

When the shipwreck is recovered, it is expected that there will be a dispute over who should lay claim to the bounty.

A US salvage consortium called Glocca Morra claimed to have located the San Jose in 1981, but the Colombian government has disputed this, claiming it independently found the galleon with a team of divers in 2015, at a different location, which remains secret.

Glocca Morra has claimed it is owed $10bn by the Colombian government and said it has handed over the coordinates of the shipwreck to the Colombian authorities.

The company are suing the Colombian government for half the treasure, worth $10bn, and the arbitration case is currently being heard in London, according to Bloomberg.

The San Jose galleon was owned by the Spanish crown when it was sunk by the British Navy in 1708

(Colombian Armada)

However, Colombian Minister of Culture Juan David Correa said the government’s team had visited the coordinates given by the company and found no trace of the San Jose.

Spain and Bolivia’s indigenous Qhara Qhara nation also claim ownership over the ship after, they said, the Spanish forced their people to mine the metals used in the treasure.

The 62-gun and three-masted galleon ship sank after it was intercepted by a British squadron on 8 June 1708 off Cartagena, during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Ceramic jars and other items from the 300-year-old shipwreck of the Spanish galleon San Jose on the floor of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia

(AP)

Eleven million gold coins are thought to have been on board

(EPA)

There were 600 sailors on board, all but 11 of whom went down with the ship.

When it sank, the San Jose was transporting plundered gold, silver, emeralds and other precious stones and metals from the Americans back to Spain.

Images recovered last year show a part of the bow covered in algae and shellfish, as well as the remains of the frame of the hull.

Treasure aboard the San Jose could also be seen – including gold ingots and coins, muddy cannons made in Seville in 1655 and an intact Chinese dinner service. Porcelain crockery, pottery and glass bottles could also be seen.

Mr Correa told Bloomberg that recovering the ship within the next two years is now a priority for President Petro. “The president has told us to pick up the pace,” he said.



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