MONTEVIDEO – Work is under way to salvage the British warship Lord Clive, sunk by the Spanish in 1763 off the coast of Uruguay, the man leading the project told EFE.
The effort is expected to take a year, Argentine treasure-hunter Ruben Collado said.
The wreck lies 350 meters (1,147 feet) from the coast of Colonia del Sacramento, a city 180 kilometers (110 miles) west of Montevideo and the first phase of the salvage effort consisted of creating a 200-meter (655-foot) exclusion zone around the ship.
The next step will be the removal of the big chunks of Colonia’s defensive wall that the Spaniards used to sink the Lord Clive.
Collado described the task as “very complicated and dangerous” even for professional divers, due to the strong undertow and murky waters of the River Plate estuary.
Once the stones are removed, the ship will be raised to the surface using a complex system of cranes and then transported to a warehouse on shore where experts will separate and classify the objects found aboard, expected to include gold, weapons, rum and mercury.
That process will be open to the public, Collado said.
The salvage team and the Uruguayan government are to share equally in any treasure found aboard the Lord Clive.
Collado’s plans call for making the salvaged ship the centerpiece of a theme park along the lines of the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, where a 17th century warship is exhibited.