WHOI Provides New Details on San Jose Shipwreck Discovery

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has obtained authorization to release new details from the search for the San José shipwreck, a 62-gun, three-masted Spanish galleon ship.

WHOI obtained authorization by Maritime Archaeology Consultants (MAC), Switzerland AG, and the Colombian government.

The ship, which is often called the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” went down with a treasure of gold, silver, and emeralds in 1708 during a battle with British ships in the War of Spanish Succession.

The wreck was discovered off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, in 2015, by a team of international scientists and engineers during an expedition aboard the Colombian Navy research ship ARC Malpelo led by MAC’s chief project archaeologist Roger Dooley.

“In order to ensure a successful search, we retained the services of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which has an extensive and recognized expertise in deep water exploration,” said Roger Dooley. “This partnership was key to the discovery of the San Jose.”

WHOI provided and operated an autonomous underwater vehicle called REMUS 6000 to survey an area off Colombia’s Barú Peninsula which helped in the search of the wreck.

The REMUS 6000 was the ideal tool for the job, since it’s capable of conducting long-duration missions over wide areas,” said WHOI engineer and expedition leader Mike Purcell.

The Colombian Government plans to build a museum and world-class conservation laboratory to preserve and publicly display the wreck’s contents, including cannons, ceramics, and other artifacts.


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