The long-lost shipwreck of the 'San Jose,' a Spanish galleon, has been discovered, Colombia's president Juan Manual Santos announced late on Friday. The ship, which sank over 300 years ago, is said to be laden gold, silver, and precious stones.
"Great news: We found the galleon San Jose," the president wrote on Twitter.
The ship was found near Colombia's Rosario Islands, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the coast of the city of Cartagena. The ship, which belonged to the fleet of King Philip V as he battled English forces during the War of Spanish Succession, sank in 1708, likely killing the 600 people aboard and sending some 11 million gold coins to the bottom of the sea.
The president did not mention, however, the long-standing legal battle over the wreck of the San Jose with the US-based salvage firm Sea Search Armada (SSA). In the early 1980s, SSA and Bogota had been partners in the hunt for the ship and had agreed to split the treasure. In 1981, SSA said it had located the general area where the galleon went down.
The government later reversed its agreement and said any proceeds would belong solely to Colombia, prompting a lawsuit from SSA. In 2011, a US court declared the then-unfound ship the property of Bogota.
British news outlets said on Saturday that the trove on board the ship is estimated to be worth around $1.5 billion (1.3 billion euros).
es/jlw (dpa, Reuters)