June 21, 2017
The San Miguel Lost Treasure Fleet
Update: The San Miguel has been found off the coast of Columbia. The Columbian government is staking their claim to the treasure.
By 1712 AD Spain was desperately in need of funds due to the War of Succession that had seen Phillip V take the throne. To solve this problem the Spanish assembled one of the richest treasure fleets.
Come 1715 it consisted of five ships of the Nueva España (Mexico) fleet and six ships of the Tierra Firme (Main Land) fleet. Significant amounts of silver (plate), gold, pearls, jewels (emeralds) and other precious items were loaded at Vera Cruz, Cartagena, Nombre de Dios and Portobello.
A further ship, a French merchantman, the Griffon, also joined the convoy. As a further defence against pirates and privateers the fleet waited until just before the hurricane season before setting off from Havana. This was a mistake and a storm destroyed the fleet just seven days after leaving Cuba.
Thousands of sailors died. Over the next four years the Spanish salvaged about half of the treasure although pirates hampered their efforts. Items of treasure still occasionally wash up on nearby shores.
Largely due to the efforts of Kip Wagner, a marine treasure hunter, seven of the ships have been located but only a small percentage of the treasure has been recovered. The San Miguel, a Nao class vessel, has yet to be found and is believed to have separated from the fleet the day before the storm struck.
Carracks are lighter than Galleons and were often used to carry treasure as they stood a greater chance of outrunning storms and privateers. The objective, after all, was to get the treasure home. This could mean that the San Miguel is actually one of the richest treasure ships yet to be found.
Ships of the 1715 Spanish (Plate) Treasure Fleet that have never been found:
Nueva Espana Fleet – General Juan de Ubilla – The Maria Galante – Frigatilla / Frigate
Tierra Firma Fleet – General Antonio de Echeverz – Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion – NAO Class (Carrack) – The (El Senor) San Miguel -NAO Class (Fast Carrack) – El Ciervo (La Franecsa ) Galera Class (Galley)