UNESCO sends mission to Panama to examine the wreck of 17th century Spanish galleon San José

At the request of Panama, UNESCO will send a mission to examine the state of conservation of the San José, a Spanish galleon that sank in the archipelago of Las Perlas in the 17th century. A commercial company, Investigaciones Marinas del Istmo (IMDI), has been under contract to salvage the shipwreck since 2003.

The States Parties to UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage meeting in Paris on 28 and 28 today decided to accept the request of the National Institute of Culture of Panama and send experts to the site of the wreck during the first two weeks of July. The mission will be organized by the Scientific and Technical Body of the Convention.

In cooperation with Panamanian experts, the mission will assess work carried out by Investigaciones Marinas del Istmo, to identify, salvage and sell objects found in wreck of the San José. The experts will also establish a management plan for the preservation of the shipwreck and its contents.

Panama in 2003 ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which aims to safeguard underwater heritage and counter the looting and commercialization of shipwrecks. The Convention also aims to support international research and cooperation.

Twelve experts of international renown make up the Scientific and Technical Advisory body of the Convention. They provide support on scientific and technical issues to the Meeting of States parties to the Convention.

The Spanish galleon San José was built in 1611 and foundered on 17 June 1631 on its way from the Peruvian port of Callao to Panama carrying a large cargo of gold and silver.

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Media contact: Lucía Iglesias, UNESCO Press Service:  +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 02, l.iglesias@unesco.org.