BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The Colombian authorities mentioned Thursday it can attempt to elevate objects from the 1708 shipwreck of the galleon San Jose, which is believed to comprise a cargo value billions of {dollars}.

The 300-year-old wreck, usually referred to as the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” has been controversial, as a result of it’s each an archaeological and financial treasure.

Tradition Minister Juan David Correa mentioned the primary makes an attempt might be made between April and Could, relying on ocean circumstances within the Caribbean. Correa pledged it might be a scientific expedition.

“That is an archaeological wreck, not a treasure,” Correa mentioned following a gathering with President Gustavo Petro. “This is a chance for us to turn into a rustic on the forefront of underwater archaeological analysis.”

However the ship is believed to carry 11 million gold and silver coins, emeralds and other precious cargo from Spanish-controlled colonies, which could be worth billions of dollars if ever recovered.

Correa mentioned the fabric extracted from the wreck, in all probability by robotic or submersible craft, could be taken aboard a navy ship for evaluation. Primarily based on the outcomes, a second effort may be scheduled.

The San Jose galleon sank in battle with British ships greater than 300 years in the past. It was positioned in 2015 however has been mired in authorized and diplomatic disputes.

In 2018, the Colombia government abandoned plans to excavate the wreck, amid disputes with a non-public agency that claims some salvage rights based mostly on a Nineteen Eighties settlement with Colombian authorities.

In 2018, the United Nations cultural company referred to as on Colombia to not commercially exploit the wreck.

A UNESCO specialists’ physique defending underwater cultural heritage despatched a letter to Colombia expressing concern that recovering the treasure on the market relatively than for its historic worth “would trigger the irretrievable lack of important heritage.”

“Permitting the business exploitation of Colombia’s cultural heritage goes in opposition to the perfect scientific requirements and worldwide moral ideas as laid down particularly within the UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage Conference,” the letter mentioned.

Colombia has not signed the U.N. Conference on the Legislation of the Sea, which might topic it to worldwide requirements and require it to tell UNESCO of its plans for the wreck.

The wreck was found three years in the past with the assistance of a global group of specialists and autonomous underwater autos, and its actual location is a state secret. The ship sank someplace within the broad space off Colombia’s Baru peninsula, south of Cartagena, within the Caribbean Sea.

The ship has been the topic of a authorized battle within the U.S., Colombia and Spain over who owns the rights to the sunken treasure.

The three-decked San Jose was reportedly 150 ft (45 meters) lengthy, with a beam of 45 ft (14 meters) and armed with 64 weapons.

Colombia has mentioned that researchers discovered bronze cannons which might be in good situation, together with ceramic and porcelain vases and private weapons.

The researchers say that the specs of the cannons go away little question that the wreck is that of the San Jose.

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