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Spanish navy documents over 1,500 shipwrecks

SPAIN SHIPWRECKS | 31 de enero de 2013

Several of the gold and silver coins from the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes that the Spanish government recovered following a long legal battle with U.S. treasure salvage firm Odyssey are now at the Arqua Museum in Cartagena, Spain. EFE

Madrid, Jan 31 (EFE).- The Spanish navy has documented 1,580 shipwrecks in a database created in 2011 to track all the ships lost at sea based on information in the naval archives, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The database confirmed that most of the ships lost at sea went down off the Iberian Peninsula and in the Caribbean, with many of the vessels involved in the intense maritime traffic with the Americas over the past few centuries.

The project's goal is to locate and identify the vessels whose sinkings are documented in the navy's vast records of both Spanish ships that sank around the world and foreign ships that went down in Spain's territorial waters.

Of the 1,580 shipwrecks registered so far, references to locations exist in 1,176 cases, or 75 percent.

Europe accounts for 59.3 percent of the documented losses, with Spain accounting for 596 shipwrecks, or 50.7 percent.

North America, Central America and the Caribbean account for 314, or 26.7 percent, of the shipwrecks, with 176 of the sinkings occurring off Cuba.

South America accounts for 80, or 6.8 percent, of the shipwrecks, while the Far East, especially the Philippines, and Australia account for 5.4 percent of the losses.

The Philippines alone were the scene of 50 of the documented shipwrecks.

North Africa, according to the navy database, accounts for 21 shipwrecks.

The date of the shipwreck is known in some 85 percent of the cases.

The project, which has not been completed, will continue over the next few years, depending on the availability of funding, the Defense Ministry said.

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