COMPANY FORMED TO RECOVER GOLD.
Vigo Bay, with its sunken Spanish galleons loaded with treasure,, has once more attracted tbe attention of the adventurous, and a company has been formed, under the titte of the Sea Salvage Company, Limited; which has obtained from the Spanish Government a concession to work in the bay, treasurehunting, till 1915, the "company surrendering 20 per cent of all value received.
The treasure has laid at the bottom of the sea since 1702. Spain was then in the heyday of her power, and from her West Indian possessions used to draw gold and silver to the value of £9,000,000 a year. A, fleet of galleons, guarded by men-of-war, arrived at Vigo in 1702 bearing the accumulated treasure of three years —some £28,000)000— only to be attacked by the combined English and Dutch fleets under Sir George Rooke. The Spaniards, to save the treasure falling into the hands of the victorious allies, sank the galleons. "What gold was rescued before the battle, what was captured by the victors, and what since has been recovered by the many salvage enterprises that have been attracted to. the bay amounts in air to about £3,000,000. Beneath the blue waves of the bay — the most beautiful bay in the world— there remains a treasure of gold and silver estimated, to be precise, at £24,651,323. In addition to tihe gold and silver on board the galleons, the wonderfully carved wood of these fine old ships and their general cargo of precious jewels — pearls, amethysts, emeralds — and tho rare woods brought from the South American forests, form a treasure which alone would repay years of work spent on its recovery. The general cargo, indeed, is estimated to be almost as .valuable, as the bullion.
The leading spirit of the enterprise is an Italian gentleman — Dr Carlo L. Iberti— and the hopes of finding the treasure rest on the inventions of, another Italian, Cavaliere Guiseppe Pino. The principal invention, perhaps, is the hydroscope, or a telescope for use under water. The hydroscope is a steel platform, buoyed on a cork base, on which twenty men can stand. From its centre a telescopic hollow column of steel descends into the sea, with a diameter large enough to. permit a man to descend it, by means of some rungs. • At the end of it is an optical chamber provided with mechanical arms, which will pick up any object desired, and a system of wonderful lenses and reflectors allows objects within a distance of about 2000 square yards to be seen from above. In the chamber are powerful electric lamps, which illuminate the water during the night or at great depths when it is required. The camera has been adapted to the lenses so that beautiful photographs can be taken of objects seen. From the bottom of the hydroscope the directors, have viewed the galleons lying where they sunk two hundred years ago. With the hydroscope is a submarine boat of such .a cunning invention, according to the design and the prospectus, that it is a free agent, and can swim in the waters beneath or travel the sea floor like a motor car. A specimen of this boat was sold for £38,000 to the Japanese Government to locate the Russian wrecks sunk at Port Arthur. It is driven electrically by propellers, and is furnished with mechanical arms for attaching tackle to objects under water. It opens up a diabolic vista of naval warfare, for it can be fitted with torpedo tubes; and, /should something go wrong with the works, its crew of three can get into ■ a cylindrical section of it, release it, and bob up to the surface like a buoy.
For actually raising the sunken ships there are the elevators, consisting of cylinders made of rubber canvas, into which compressed air is pumped, each cylinder capable of raising forty tons out of the water; there are mechanical arms to embrace the hull which is to be salved, or to pass cables beneath a keel when the wreck is weak; and pyro-pontoons, capable of bearing practically any weight. Once raised by a pyro-pontoon, a ship may be considered as in a dry dock, and repairing operations may be carried out on the spot.
Permanent link to this item
Star, Star, Issue 9575, 22 June 1909
HIDDEN TREASURE. Star, Issue 9575, 22 June 1909
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Christchurch City Libraries (1910-1920).