“Great news: We have found the Galleon San Jose.”
Thus what could be the biggest finding of a sunken treasure hoard in years was made by the government of Colombia in a single Twitter message on Friday evening. President Juan Manuel Santos said the remains of Spanish galleon San Jose, which sunk 307 years ago, has been located near the coast of Caribbean port city Cartegena.
Gran noticia: ¡Encontramos el Galeon San José! Mañana daré los detalles en rueda de prensa desde Cartagena.— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) December 4, 2015
What’s more, the ship was carrying gold, silver, gems and jewels that some estimate could be worth as much as $17 billion. In a news conference on Saturday, Santos said the government would build a museum to display the findings, with sonar images so far showing cannons, arms, ceramics and other artifacts, according to Reuters.
The Galleon San Jose was blown up and sank in June 1708 during a naval confrontation with the British as part of the War of Spanish Succession, and some 600 lives were believed to have been lost. It was part of a fleet that was sailing from Portobelo to Cartegena, and the ship was believed to be carrying 7 to 11 million pesos, worth some $4 billion to $17 billion, wrote Rick Spilman, author, sailor and maritime history enthusiast, in a 2012 post for The Old Salt Blog.
Spilman said that the Galleon San Jose is often referred to as the “Holy Grail of Ship Wrecks.” But it has also been part of a years-long lengthy litigation battle between the government of Colombia and U.S. salvage company Sea Search Armada. SSA and Colombia had agreed to a division of any findings until the country passed a law giving itself all rights to the treasure. SSA sued Colombia in its own courts and the battle made it to the U.S. courts, which eventually upheld Colombia’s ruling in 2011.
On its Facebook page, SSA says it is managed by IOTA Partners, a U.S. limited partnership formed in 1988 to “provide management and working capital to pursue the rights of SSA investors in the face of efforts by the Government of Colombia to illegally confiscate SSA’s finds.” Attempts to reach SSA for comment were unsuccessful....MORE