Monday, 2 August 2021

The Spanish galleon San José

The San José was a 60-gun galleon of the Spanish Navy. The ship is considered the holy grail of Spanish colonial shipwrecks. It was sunk off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia in 1708.

Colombia and Spain have disputed ownership of the Galleon San Jose for years. Built in 1698, the ship was sunk after a battle with a British squad commanded by Captain Charles Wagner.
The San José was part of a Treasure fleet during the War of the Spanish Succession, under General José Fernández Santillán.

On 8 June 1708, the fleet encountered a British squadron near Barú. During the battle, the powder magazines of San José detonated, sending the ship to the bottom.
All but 11 of the 600 people on board perished, either incinerated in the explosion or drowned at sea. The San José was located by an international team led by Colombia’s Institute of Anthropology and History on Nov. 27, 2015 nearly 1,000 feet deep about 16 miles from Cartagena.

Speculation says it likely had 7 to 10 million Spanish pesos on board at the time of its sinking, similar to its surviving sister ship, the San Joaquín.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos announces the discovery of the remains of the Galleon San Jose
The San Jose was carrying one of the largest gold and silver hoards ever lost at sea. Estimates place the value of the cargo to at least $1bn.


A seafloor image of the shipwreck identified as the San Jose. The wreck has yet to undergo exploration, leaving questions about what riches might be found. The type and number of bronze cannons found at the site leaves no doubt that the ship is the San Jose.