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08th Nov 2023

‘Holy Grail of shipwrecks’ with £16 billion haul set to be lifted from ocean floor

Nina McLaughlin

The Columbian government has ordered the ‘Holy Grail of shipwrecks’ to be lifted from the ocean floor.

The Spanish ship San Jos sank more than 300 years ago, but is thought to have 200 tons of treasure onboard, with the bounty set to include gold, silver and emeralds.

Gustavo Petro, the President of Columbia, has said he wants the shipwreck to be recovered before the end of his term in 2026, adding that he wants it to be one of the “priorities” of his administration.

Juan David Correa, the country’s culture minister, told Bloomberg: “The president has told us to pick up the pace.”

The news comes amid debate as to where the treasure should end up, with ownership claims having also been made by Spain and by Bolivia’s indigenous Qhara Qhara nation, who claim that Spain extracted wealth from their country.

With the value of the treasure being estimated to be between £3.2bn and £16bn, it’s understandable that there is debate as to who should claim ownership.

The galleon is claimed to be first discovered by a salvage company back in 1981, but the Columbian navy first found the shipwreck in 2015 near the port of Cartagena.

Maritime experts believe that the vessel “Holy Grail of shipwrecks” due to the amount of items with historical significance onboard, which include pottery, Chinese porcelain and cannons.

The San Jose sank after the British Royal Navy attacked the boat on  8 June 1708 during the War Of The Spanish Succession.

The Columbian government claims that they will raise the three-mast 64-gun vessel to the water’s surface via a public-private partnership.