San Josf Galleon Project (1631) - Contadora, Panama

The San Josf sank on June 17, 1631, while navigating the Pearl Islands off the Pacific coast of Panama.  In 2012, Blue Water was invited to lend its expertise in the exploration of the San Josf, under existing exploration agreements and full legal authority granted by the Panamanian government.  While in Panama, the Blue Water team built an on-site conservation lab and assisted with grading, cataloging the items recovered during it’s time on site. 

Historical account of the grounding and sinking of the San Josf: 

General Bernardino Hurtado de Mendoza, on board the nao capitana Our Lady of Loreto, he heard the huge rumble coming from the nearby galleon Saint Joseph and he knew right away that it was his end. The almiranta ship, loaded with gold and silver, had collided with the seabed of the Archipelago of Pearls (Panama). It would take him a few hours to literally split in half and his riches would slide into the depths before the astonished eyes of the soldier. It was eleven o'clock on the night of June 17, 1631. The Saint Joseph He undertook the same route, but he deviated confidently a few meters from the established course. The rumble that caused its stranding reached the other galleon. Hurtado de Mendoza saw it clearly from the beginning: the crew had to be saved, the ship would sink shortly. With boats, they hurried to the rescue. They saved 61 of their 62 men. 

Water, meanwhile, entered the Saint Joseph and the hull began to heel towards port. Two hours later, it literally broke in half and the cargo slipped into the depths. "The gold and the silver of the King spilled without remedy towards the bottom, while the helmet began to sail without course following the strong marine currents", indicates Carlos Leon Amores. After touring several islets, the galleon ended at Contadora Island where ship divers and local pearl hunters rescued part of the cargo. Source: 10/30/2018 “Galleon San Jose Sails Again”


Images from San Josf Galleon: