Southern Chile

Spanish galleon discovered in Southern Chile

By Julia Thompson

Remains of a 238-year-old shipwrecked Spanish galleon named “Our Lady of the Good Council and San Leopoldo” have been discovered on the coast near the Chilean town of Curepto, located in Chile's Region VII. Oriflama S.A., the private archaeological excavation firm that discovered the galleon, is now grappling with Chilean authorities for permission to continue their excavation efforts and receive part of the estimated US$30 million in booty.

The Chilean National Monuments Council insists the ship and its treasures are state property under terms spelled out in Chile’s national monuments law N. 17.2888. Even so, the Council has agreed to grant the company 25 percent of the loot.

“Because the ship was embedded in the sand rather than deep under the ocean 'Our Lady of the Good Council and San Leopoldo' is property of the private business that found it,” the Republic's Comptroller's Office told the Santiago Times.

Most archaeologists expected to find the remains of the ship deep on the ocean floor. But fragments of the 41-meter x 11-meter ship have been discovered embedded in the sand under fairly shallow waters near where the Huenchullami River flows into the ocean.

The once ornate vessel was built by the French in the mid 1700s and, loaded with 56 canons, was used by their military until the ship fell into Spanish hands. The Spaniards revamped the ship into a merchant vessel and set it sailing to New Spain.