The Colombian army has released unpublished images of the legendary San Jose galleon, one of the largest ships of the Spanish Armada, which sank off the country’s coast three centuries ago, along with the untold treasure it carried.

The Navy managed to reach a depth of 950 meters and investigate the wreck up close, thanks primarily to a remote-controlled submarine. From this operation supervised by the Ministry of Culture, “it was verified that the San Jose galleon has not undergone any  interference due to human activity”, said the official announcement.

The pictures show the cannons of the ship, porcelain utensils, ceramics, glass bottles, but also items that seem to be made of gold. Part of the bow is covered with algae and shells with the wooden frame of the hull also being preserved.

“Thanks to the technological equipment and the work of the Colombian Navy, we have been able to see images of the San Jose with unprecedented precision, protecting this heritage of humanity and keeping it intact before it is hoisted at a later date,” said President Ivan Duque.

According to Colombian authorities, two other shipwrecks were found nearby during the operation; a  galleon of the colonial period and an 18th century schooner. Another 13 zones remain to be investigated off the city of Cartagena where ship wrecks are likely to be located.

San Jose, sunk by the British fleet on June 7, 1708, contains, according to experts, at least 200 tons of gold, silver and emeralds. In late 2015, while treasure hunters had spent decades searching for the wreck,-Colombian President of the time Juan Manuel Santos announced that the exact location of the shipwreck had been identified, thanks in large part to its unique cannons decorated with embossed dolphins. Santos described the shipwreck as “the most precious treasure ever found in the history of mankind” and suggested that the hoist be financed with a portion of the cargo.

But his successor, Ivan Duque, has rejected private involvement in rescuing the treasure which he wants to keep for Colombia. Authorities have also announced that with him , the president, they plan to fund a future “museum of shipwrecks”.

Spain and the natives of Bolivia are still claiming the cargo of the San Jose, which carried the treasure of the Regent of Peru. But Colombia insists that what is left of the ship and the precious cargo is strictly its own property.

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