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Colombia discovers 2 new shipwrecks near legendary San Jose galleon

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Jun 08, 2022 - 08:13 AM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Colombia’s navy, using new high-tech equipment, was finally able to descend 600 meters to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea to prove that the Spanish San Jose galleon was in good condition but also discovered some surprises.

President Ivan Duque announced Tuesday that two more shipwrecks have been found near the area where the San Jose galleon was sunk in the country’s waters.

“We have already found two additional vessels: one vessel from the colonial period and another that, from the point of view of preliminary analysis, corresponds to the Republican period of our history,” Duque said in a press briefing.

The San Jose galleon was sunk by the British off Colombia’s Caribbean port of Cartagena in June 1708 while transporting gold, silver, emeralds and jewels. With the vessel, 400 military personnel and around 160 civilians also sank. The shipwreck occurred during the Battle of Baru by the flagship of the British fleet, the Expedition.

At the time of its discovery in 2015, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos described it as “one of the greatest finds of submerged heritage, if not the greatest, some say, in the history of mankind.”

According to Duque, the country had purchased the necessary equipment to reach the required depth and obtain the best images and at the same time protect “the integrity of the treasure” and preserve it until the extraction can be carried out.

​​This has made it possible to see the detail of the finds, including the cannons that were manufactured in Seville and Cadiz around 1655 and the ornaments of the almost intact Chinese crockery that was part of the galleon’s galley. There are also hand-struck coins of Spanish America, a gold ingot and crew swords.

The government has thus undermined some theories about a possible looting of the galleon, which has always been under the strict surveillance of the navy. It is known that several treasure hunters have wanted to take possession of the treasure.

According to the navy, there could be 13 more sites to explore.

“We have been monitoring different points of which there was information of possible shipwrecks in times similar to those of the galleon,” Duque said.

The galleon’s priceless cargo still remains at the bottom of the sea because it is in dispute between Colombia and Spain. Colombia considers it its own because it was found in its territorial waters and the vessel that made the discovery belonged to the Colombian Navy. Spain says the galleon belonged to the Spanish Navy and as such is protected by United Nations regulations.

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