IT WOULD appear to be the holy grail of all ship wrecks. The San Jose was carrying gold, silver, gems and jewellery collected in the South American colonies to be shipped to Spain’s king to help finance his war of succession against the British when it was sunk by a British warship in June 1708.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted his delight at the find which may see his country landing a bounty of at least $1 billion, though unsurprisingly this is the subject of a long running legal dispute between a US salvage company and the Colombian government.
But if correct, this amount makes it one of the largest shipwreck finds ever recorded. President Santos said the find “constitutes one of the greatest – if not the biggest, as some say – discoveries of submerged patrimony in the history of mankind”.
The wreck of the San Jose is reported to fall within the UN´s definition of an underwater cultural heritage site and is estimated to be one of over a 1,000 galleons and merchant ships that sank along Colombia’s coral reefs during more than three centuries of colonial rule.