Nuestra Senora de Atocha 1622 “Lost at Sea”

(AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Sharon Wiley)

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Shipwreck experts are evaluating a centuries-old 40-inch gold chain plucked from the seafloor while searching for a 17th-century sunken Spanish galleon off the Florida Keys.The piece is tentatively valued at about $250,000. It is believed to be from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank during a 1622 hurricane. It was found Wednesday by divers from Mel Fisher’s Treasures about 35 miles west of Key West.The chain has 55 links, an enameled gold cross and a two-sided engraved religious medallion featuring the Virgin Mary and a chalice. In 1985, the Fisher crew recovered more than $450 million in artifacts and treasure from the Atocha shipwreck, but part of the ship has not been found.

A Spanish galleon similar to the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. as seen : http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lasalle/owners.html

Some fifty years before the first city in North America was found, the Spaniards occupied cities in Central America, the Caribbean, Cuba, and many other “New World” ports de old sod. As far back as the late 16th century, cities such as Potosi, Lima, and Mexico City, housed populations greatly exceeding the largest cities in Spain. Huge tracts of land granted to Spanish colonist in these areas by the Crown produced Coffee, Tobacco, and other commodities and were traded for supplies from Cadiz .

The system was extremely profitable for the Crown, as well as the colonist from 1561, until 1748, ( though colonization and sporadic trade started earlier). Of course, the most profitable commodities for advancing Spain’s world domination, and continuing the colonies were the more shiny, monetarily valued items found on the continent such as silver and gold.

Two separate fleets sailed from Spain to the new world annually loaded with do-jiggers, and vendible for the colonist. In return, many pelagic souls, slaves, doubloons, and pieces of eight, launched from the Gulf of Mexico headed back to Spain on the same ships. The slew of  ships lost to hurricanes and squalls in the area from 1500 till now represent many nations, yet the majority being Spanish Galleons, hands down, leaves many of their hands and deck, beneath the sea, and treasures on our minds, almost as valuable as the history itself.

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From Cadiz, sailing Columbus’s wake to the Caribbean, the fleets (though Spain had many other fleets sailing many other seas) would split

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for separate destinations. Fleet Nueva Espnana’, for Veracruz, Mexico, and Tierra Firme, for Portobello, Panama. After unloading their cargo, and being loaded to the hilt,  sitting lull a hull, both fleets keeled with lucre, barring no contender, would meet again in Havana, Cuba, which just happens, was the birth place of the ship, “Senora de Atocha”.

 ( to be continued )

Victory met defeat though her discovery promises a victorious sweep.

In 1737  the largest sailing vessel ever to set sail on the high seas of her time  launched from Portsmouth England. She lengthened 226 and a half feet long from bowsprit to taff, with a lower gun deck of 186 feet. Construction of such a ship in eighteenth century funding would equate to present day cost of an aircraft carrier.

6000 oak trees fell from life to give birth to her massive 52 foot deck breadth. Seven short years later, along with74 year old war hero Admiral John Balchin, 800 – 1,100  highly skilled seamen sank to their death beneath tons of darkened water while scurrying to try and save her massive four story lamp lit hull.

1884 photo of duplicate HMS Victory built in 1759-1765

Solar Navigator .net

Undiscovered for 12 generations, at the floor of the English Channel near the Channel  Islands, the Victory, along with many sons of the most prominent British dignitaries who volunteered voyage, rested in polyandrous frozen time.

Why would there have been dignitary volunteers?  Presumably to keep watch over the treasures that were aboard the greatest ship ever built for the Royal Navy.

Ships of those days many times were what the “Brinks” and “Wells Fargo” of today are to us…armed transportation!

Victory, at the time of her demise, was the most heavily armed Battle Ship in the world.

( Her replacement built 1759-1765, piloted by famed Lord Nelson is the oldest naval ship still in commission, and is dry docked in Portsmouth ,England as a Museum Ship).

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Victory ?  For England, or for ( Odyssey ) the Florida Salvage Company who has located the all but forgotten wreckage?

This is the most significant shipwreck discovery in history” Said Odyssey president Greg Stemm. “It’s the solution to one of the most intriguing naval mysteries in history. It went down with the most famous admiral of his time, it went down with the largest collection of brass cannon in the world on-board, and research suggest it has one of the largest shipments of  gold and silver that will likely ever be found on a shipwreck“.  ( Feb.2 2009)

Stemm and his company are very aware of possible controversies stemming from such discoveries by (Original Propitiatory) countries. Odyssey Marine is currently still in a court battle with Spain over the discovery of the shipwreck 17th century ( Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes ), in 2006. The Mercedes is said to hold $500 Million dollars worth of treasure.

*(US federal court records filed by Odyssey, seeking exclusive rights, describe the site as 25 to 40 miles from the English coast, outside UK territorial waters)*.

Wow?  You may ask. How much treasure is the Victory said to have been carrying when she went down?  The answer is a shocking …More!!!

Over 100,000 of these babies with an estimated value of $1 BILLION Dollars.

The HMS Victory was returning from Lisbon, Portugal, according  to Odyssey’s research carrying 100,000 gold coins for numerous merchant companies.  She was dispatched to Portugal’s Tagus River to rescue a Mediterranean Convoy being blockaded by the French. The great “Man of War” was needless to say successful on her last assignment.

Sadly, however, she never made it home to Portsmouth to be greeted or accommodated for her gallant mission. None of the said 900 to 1,100 sailors aboard her final voyage in her short seven year life span would ever see lands end, or the shores of merry old Ingland again. “She went down in deep waters”.  Stemm said; The most likely cause of her demise was faulty construction of the ship herself.

Manned by some of the most highly skilled seaman known and available to England at the time, and piloted by the most esteemed admiral of his, and many days before, (Admiral John Balchin), the HMS Victory rested not alone for 250 years on the silent floor of the English Channel…but in the best company she could ever have been in…the company of her valiant and loyal crew.

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