Two Spanish shipwrecks were found off the coast of Colombia near the remains of the “holy grail” of sunken ships, according to government officials.
The two ships, believed to be hundreds of years old, were discovered by Colombian authorities during an underwater project documenting the wreck of the San Jose galleon (sometimes called the “holy grail of shipwrecks”) which reportedly had about $17 billion of gold onboard.
“We have already found two additional vessels: one vessel that is from the colonial period and another that, from the point of view of preliminary analysis, corresponds to the Republican period of our history,” Colombian President Ivan Duque said.
The ships were found about 3,000 feet under the water off the coast of Cartagena during observation missions by the Colombian navy. Both vessels apparently went down near the 300-year-old wreck of the Spanish ship the San Jose, which was sunk by the British in 1708.
On Monday, Duque unveiled new photos and footage of the two now discovered wrecks as well as the San Jose’s treasure. The footage was taken by a remotely operated vehicle.
In addition to taking footage of the newly discovered schooner and colonial boat, the operation also procured photos of some of the San Jose’s treasure, believed to be one of the largest ever for a shipwreck.
“The equipment that our army has acquired and the level of precision have kept this treasure intact, but at the same time, we will be able to protect it for later extraction,” the president stated.
The Colombian Navy also announced that they do not believe that the wreck of the San Jose, first discovered in 2015, had been disturbed.
“Under the guidelines of the Presidency of the Republic during the last two years, the Colombian Navy and the General Maritime Directorate, in a non-intrusive observation work carried out at the site where the Galleon San José rests, has verified that it has not suffered intervention or alterations by human action,” the Navy said.
Who gets the treasure of San Jose is still a question up for debate with Spain, Colombia, and others all claiming the rights to the valuable discovery.
Swords, hand minted coins, crockery, and 17th century cannons were among the items viewed by Colombian authorities.
“What we are talking about is an important wealth that has a lot to tell us about our past,” Colombian Maritime director Jose Joaquin Amezquita said.