Colombia Announces Plans to Recover Treasures from ‘Holy Grail of Shipwrecks’ Valued at Billions

Colombia has revealed its intention to recover objects from a Spanish warship that sank off the coast of the port city Cartagena in 1708, as reported by the Associated Press. The San José galleon, often referred to as the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” is believed to be carrying treasures valued at billions of dollars. Juan David Correa, Colombia’s culture minister, has stated that this is part of a scientific expedition for underwater archaeological research.

Colombia announced on Thursday that it plans to recover objects from a Spanish warship that sank off the coast of the port city Cartagena in 1708, according to the Associated Press.

The San José galleon, considered the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” is believed to hold treasures valued at billions of dollars, including more than 7 million pesos, 116 steel chests full of emeralds, and an estimated 30 million gold coins. It sank during a battle against British ships.

Juan David Correa, Colombia’s culture minister, stated that the country aims to make its first recovery from the ship in April or May next year, depending on ocean conditions, as reported by the AP.

The move to recover objects from the shipwreck, discovered in 2015, is expected to be controversial. In 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization urged Colombia not to exploit the shipwreck commercially.

Additionally, Bloomberg reported last month that a US salvage company is suing Colombia for half of San José’s treasures. The ship’s cargo is estimated to be worth anywhere from $4 billion to $20 billion, according to Bloomberg, citing court cases in recent decades.

Correa, Colombia’s culture minister, pledged that the recovery of objects from the San José would be a scientific expedition, emphasizing, “This is an archaeological wreck, not a treasure. This is an opportunity for us to become a country at the forefront of underwater archaeological research,” according to the AP.

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