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History of Nuestra Señora de Atocha


Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the most widely known vessel of a fleet of ships that sank in a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622. At the time of her sinking, Nuestra Señora de Atocha was heavily laden with copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, and indigo from Spanish ports at Cartagena and Porto Bello in New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama, respectively) and Havana, bound for Spain. The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was named for a holy shrine in Madrid, Spain. It was a heavily armed Spanish galleon that served as the almirante (rear guard) for the Spanish fleet. It would trail behind the other ships in the flota to prevent an attack from the rear. Much of the wreck of Nuestra Señora de Atocha was famously recovered by an American commercial treasure hunting expedition in 1985. Following a lengthy court battle against the State of Florida, the finders were ultimately awarded sole ownership of the rights to the treasure.