Have you ever wondered how much treasure lies undiscovered at the bottom of the ocean?
Throughout history, many ships have braved the seas, unfortunately, not all of them have returned home from their long voyages. All kinds of vessels find their final resting places at the bottom of the ocean, some of them have little to no value and have long been forgotten, some have great historic value as is the case with Blackbeard’s ship and some hold unimaginable treasure troves of wealth and opulence. This article will be focusing on the latter and will highlight historic ships with large amounts of gold and treasure valued at billions of dollars.
The Las Cinco Chagas (1594) – $1 billion
This Portuguese carrack, which was transporting more than 1,100 people, was reaching the end of a lengthy journey from India to Portugal in 1594. The ship, purportedly under Francisco de Mello’s command, was filled with “valuable stones and all the best of India,” having reportedly taken on the cargo from two other ships that had been lost in combat. The Chagas was allegedly carrying 22 boxes of treasure, including diamonds, rubies, and pearls, with a current estimated value of almost $1 billion. However, British privateer ships ambushed the Chagas as it reached Portugal and shelled it continuously for two days. On July 13, 1594, it finally caught fire and sunk.
The Merchant Royal (1641) – $1.5 billion
When it made its final, fatal voyage, this English merchant ship—which dealt with the Spanish colonies in the West Indies during the late 1630s—was rumored to be carrying 100,000 pounds of gold and several other valuables. The dilapidated ship started to leak as it made its way back to London. The ship’s captain offered to take extra cargo from a Spanish ship that was on fire in addition to other supplies. The ship sank off the coast of Cornwall County, England, as a result of its pumps failing due to the increased weight and poor condition of the vessel as well as a string of extreme storms. The shipwreck and its estimated $1.5 billion in gold are still hidden, despite the fact that the anchor was recovered in 2019 off the coast of the United Kingdom.
The Flor de la Mar (1511) – $2.6 billion
This 400-ton Portuguese sailing vessel served for an astonishing nine years, completing multiple voyages over the Indian Ocean. But it also had a track record of springing leaks and requiring repairs. It had been judged hazardous when it was dispatched to aid the Portuguese in their conquest of the Malay Sultanate of Malacca, but the conquistadors required every ship they could obtain. Late in 1511, while returning to the Kingdom of Aru, Sumatra, the “Flower of the Sea” got trapped in a storm near Timia Point. Despite the fact that the ship itself has not yet been located and an alleged $2.6 billion in treasure has been lost, General Afonso de Albuquerque and some of his soldiers managed to survive the catastrophe.
The San Jose – The Holy Grail of Sunken Treasures (1708) – $17 billion
One of the most precious shipwrecks in the world, the site of which remained unknown for over three centuries, was revealed in photographs by the Colombian army. During the War of the Spanish Succession in 1708, the Spanish galleon San Jose was wrecked by British navy ships while carrying a massive cargo of loot. At least 200 tons of wealth, including gold coins, silver coins, and emeralds, are said to have been aboard the ship, a 64-gun galleon with about 600 people on board. These items are valued up to $17 billion at current estimates. The wreckage, which is sometimes referred to as “the holy grail of shipwrecks,” was discovered in 2015 off the coast of Cartagena by Colombian navy personnel, but its exact location has remained a mystery to the public.