A Spanish warship, more than 300-year-old and loaded with 11 million gold coins, has been found off the coast of Colombia.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was very enthusiastic when he brought the news on Twitter:
- Wonderful news. We have found the galleon "San José".
At a press conference Saturday, he characterized the discovery as "the most valuable treasure that is found in human history."
It was loaded with silver, gold, emeralds and 11 million gold coins when it was sunk. The load may have had a value of up to $17 billion, almost three times Spain's GDP in 1708.
"San José" was sunk by the British Navy outside the fortress city of Cartagena in Colombia in 1708. The ship was part of King Filip V of Spain's fleet and was used in the battle against the English in the War of the Spanish Succession.
The ship was the flagship of the Spanish fleet, bringing gold and silver from the mines of Potosi in Bolivia. It was heading to Colombia from Panama when it was stopped by British navy vessels, reports CNN.
The ship is probably about 200 meters down, and both the Colombian government and private companies have for decades been searching for the San José in the Caribbean Sea. The American company Sea Search Armada claimed in 1981 that it had located the area where the ship had sunk.
The company later claimed that "the Colombian government has attempted to confiscate SSAS findings in an illegal manner." But after years of quarreling between Colombia and the US company, a US court in 2011 ruled that the San José belongs to Colombia.
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