On Friday the 13th, in July of 1733, the Nueva Espana fleet of treasure ships left
Havana on its return voyage to Spain. The departure date of Friday the 13th proved to
be quite unlucky for this fleet of four armed galleons, eighteen merchant naos, and
various smaller ships carrying the treasures of the New World back to the seat of the
Spanish Empire. A hurricane struck the next day after the ships had sighted the Florida
Keys. Only one ship escaped safely back to Havana, and the others were scattered and
wrecked along the Upper Florida Keys.
The Spanish authorities salvaged what treasure they could over the next few years. Then
these shipwrecks were forgotten until the 20th century. Modern day salvors relocated
and worked most of the remaining wrecks of the 1733 fleet. Today many thousands of
artifacts and coins have been recovered from these ships. The artifacts now educate us
about the hardships that this fleet endured during their attempt to return to Spain.