Exploring the San José Shipwreck: Colombia’s Ambitious Project

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The Colombian Government has initiated a significant exploration endeavor focusing on the 18th-century Spanish galleon San José, also known as the “holy grail of shipwrecks.”

Historical Context

The San José, sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1708 near Cartagena, Colombia, holds immense historical and monetary value, believed to house treasure worth £16 billion ($20 billion).

Technological Advancements

Culture Minister Juan David Correa hailed the expedition as groundbreaking, utilizing remote sensors and underwater robots to meticulously survey the site and catalog archaeological artifacts.

Legal and Preservation Challenges

Ownership disputes have arisen since the galleon’s discovery in 2015, involving claims from Spain, the US salvage company Sea Search Armada, and indigenous descendants. Despite disagreements, the Colombian government has safeguarded the site as a protected archaeological area.

Exploration Phases

The project’s initial “characterization phase” phase involves non-invasive methods to assess the wreck’s contents and condition, guided by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History.

Funding and Oversight

The government allocated $45 million for the exploration, with President Gustavo Petro overseeing proposals from commercial salvage firms while emphasizing preservation over large-scale excavations.

Future Prospects

The focus remains on scientific and heritage values, prioritizing the preservation and understanding of the wreck’s historical significance. This endeavor represents a pivotal moment in maritime archaeology and Colombian history.

 

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Source: Marine Insight