The Nuestra Espana fleet was one of the last treasure fleets to cross the Atlantic Ocean for Spain. On Friday 13, 1733, the ships left Havana on the return voyage. The fleet consisted of three armed galleons and eighteen merchant ships filled with tanned hides, rare spices, precious jewels, silver and gold, all of which were needed for the economic survival of Spain.
The ships were grounded in the Florida Keys during a hurricane. The remains of the fleet were scattered over 80 miles throughout the keys. The San Pedro’s remains were burned to the waterline by the Spanish to prevent looting by pirates. Locations of the wrecks were charted on an official map. Salvage work continued for years. When a final calculation of salvaged materials was made, more gold and silver had been recovered than had been listed on the original lists of cargo.
Professional archaeologists have studied 13 known shipwrecks from the fleet. A Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve is open at the San Pedro site for divers. The San Pedro is among the most picturesque of the 1733 wreck sites. She is located in a white sand pocket surrounded by turtle grass. Abundant marine life inhabits her grave. A large pile of ballast stones contains flat, red bricks from the ship’s galley. This site is one of Florida's oldest artificial reefs, host to a variety of sea creatures living amidst ballast stones and coral heads.
The Nuestra Espana Fleet—The San Pedro 1733