The tragic death of a ship with untold riches almost 3 centuries later again excites the public. Interparus shares the first details about the sunken galleon “San Jose”!
The story of a shipwreck three centuries ago
This interesting story began back in 1696, when the Spaniards launched a beautiful 60-gun galleon and named it “San Jose”. This was a time of active colonization of the newly discovered southern margins of North America, the Caribbean, Cuba and South America.
During that period, namely at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, various types of wars were especially active - large and not very large - for valuable resources that were found in abundance in hitherto unknown regions. Gold, silver, spices and various agricultural crops literally flowed like a river from the countries of South America to Europe.
Painting by S. Scott “The Naval Battle of Cartagena.” Depicts the moment of the explosion on the ship "San Jose"
At this time, the galleon “San Jose” managed to conduct several successful voyages and even take part in some battles. However, its history ended in 1708, literally 12 years after its launch. Being part of the Golden Flotilla of the Spaniards, the galleon took part in battle against the English squadron off the coast of modern Colombia, near the city of Cartagena. “San Jose” was filled to capacity with gold and silver bars, emerald stones and other valuables. In addition to them, there were also decent reserves of gunpowder on board, which subsequently detonated.
As a result of the explosion, the ship sank, taking the lives of about 590 people. In addition, jewels also went to the bottom, which over the following centuries excited the imagination of first adventurers and writers, and then politicians of various sizes from different countries.
Let's reconcile debit with credit
So, as far as we can judge from scientific and historical sources, on board the San Jose there were:
- 200 tons of gold, silver and emeralds;
- 7 million pesos (then Spanish currency);
- 60 bronze cannons.
The third point is usually ignored by ordinary people and lovers of profit, but the figure of 200 tons of precious metals and stones usually produces a serious effect. Indeed, there were many treasures on board the San Jose, which look extremely attractive both in the 18th and 21st centuries.
In fact, scientists have calculated that the total value of all the wealth of the sunken galleon is approximately 20 billion US dollars or 16 billion pounds sterling. Agree, the amount is impressive even by today's standards.
Scandals, intrigues and investigations
And now, it’s the 20th century. During the entire time that has passed since the sinking of the galleon, scientists have put forward many assumptions about the exact location of the ship. However, in 1981, the American company Glocca Morra announced that it had managed to find the exact coordinates of “San Jose”. But it wasn't so simple - the company shared the secret location with Colombian authorities only in exchange for half the wealth of the sunken ship, that is, an amount equivalent to 10 billion US dollars.
34 years passed, Glocca Morra managed to burn down and rise from the ashes in the form of a new company, Sea Search Armada, and Colombia continued to search for the untold riches of the Spaniards. In 2015, the Colombians made a sensational statement. Finally, the legendary “San Jose” was found by the Colombian Navy... But with a nuance that the Americans really didn’t like.
Descent to the remains of the galleon "San Jose"
Officially, Colombia refused to share the coordinates of the ship, labeling them as “state secrets.” However, Sea Search Armada believes that the Colombian Navy discovered the ship exactly at the coordinates that were provided by the then Glocca Morra in 1981. After several requests from Sea Search Armada and subsequent vague responses from the Colombian side, Sea Search Armada initiated a lawsuit against Colombia in the amount of $10 billion.
It is interesting that Spain, which in fact is the legal owner of the treasure, stands on the side of Colombia and the indigenous community of Bolivia, whose ancestors were forced by the Spanish colonialists to extract the treasures that were transported on the San Jose.
However, time passed, and no active actions or attempts were made to raise the ship. The issue seemed to be withdrawn from consideration for an indefinite period. But 2023 comes and the story continues.
A new round of history
In November 2023, Colombian President Gustavo Petro shares his plans. According to the president’s idea, before the end of his term in 2026, it is planned to raise “San Jose” from the bottom along with all its wealth.
Minister of Culture Juan David Correa shared information that the president instructed officials to find a contractor company that is ready to cooperate and raise the ship from the bottom. It is currently unknown how financial issues between Sea Search Armada, the Colombian government and the indigenous population of Bolivia will be regulated.
So far, the idea of raising the galleon remains just an idea, but the obvious interest of the parties is noticeable with the naked eye. Probably, in the near future we will see more than one or even two high-profile scandals associated with the legendary “San Jose”. We are looking forward to the continuation of this amusing and ambiguous story!
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