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Image taken by the REMUS submersible showing the cannon that were on board the San Jose when it sunk in 1708. Credit: REMUS image, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Explorers disclosed new details on Monday about the "Holy Grail of Shipwrecks," known as the San José. The vessel is a large 62-gun, three-masted Spanish galleon ship sank in 1708 while carrying cargo from Spain thought to be worth billions.

Why it matters: : Explorers located the ship off the coast of Cartagena on Nov. 27, 2015. The find was announced at the time, but now explorers are disclosing more information about the wreck site, how they found it, and what Colombia plans to do with the ship's contents. According to the AP, the shipwreck may contain riches that are worth as much as $17 billion in today's dollars.

The discovery "carries considerable cultural and historical significance" for the Colombian people, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) , since it reveals information about European influence on South America during the early 18th century. The San José was carrying gold, silver, and emeralds, in addition to ceramics and other artifacts.

The Colombian government is planning to build a museum and conservation laboratory focused on the ship's contents.

How they found it:

  • The ship was discovered at a depth of about 2,000 feet by explorers from WHOI, Maritime Archaeology Consultants, Switzerland AG, and the Colombian government using assets that included an autonomous underwater vehicle known as the REMUS 6000, according to WHOI.
  • The same underwater vehicle was involved in the successful search for Air France flight 447 in 2011, as well as a mission to map the Titanic wreck site 2010.
  • The San José was partly sediment covered, forcing the REMUS to get within 30 feet of the ship. Experts were able to make out its distinguishing cannons once the REMUS' cameras neared to the wreckage.

The Colombian government is still keeping the exact location of the ship, which sank in a battle with British ships during the War of Spanish Succession, under wraps.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

1 hour ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.