At The City Paper we went to great depths to share this stunning image from the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and Natural History (ICANH) of the remains of the San José galleon.
Ambushed by the British Navy on the night of June 8, 1708, only hours after
it sailed from the port of Cartagena, the San José was laden with gold, silver and precious stones from the New World. The pride of the Spanish fleet had, until that fateful night, successfully evaded privateers, until it was attacked by British ships commandeered by Admiral Charles Wagner. All of its 600-man crew perished during the battle, and its precious cargo sank to the ocean floor. The three-masted, 62-gun San José was laden with 11 million gold coins and jewels estimated today to be worth US$17 billion.
In this rare image, one can appreciate intact vases, bottles, painted porcelain tea cups, cast iron vats and cannons jutting out of the sand littered with sea shells, somewhere between the peninsula of Barú and Rosary Islands. After the exact location of the ship was revealed in 2015, the bounty of this mythical ship embroiled Colombia in a debate with Spain over the rightful ownership of the cargo that could include the largest emeralds ever extracted.
Last month, a robot submarine captured these first-ever pictures of the remains of the San José, six hundred meters deep. The underwater expedition took 6,000 images and are a visual testament to an age of conquest.