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1690 Pilar - Guam

1690 Pilar is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in Cocos Island, Guam. This dive site has an average rating of 5.00 out of 5 from 1 scuba divers. The maximum depth is 81-90ft/25-27m. The average visibility is 61-70ft/19-21m.

In June 2, 1690, the Neustra Senora del Pilar de Zaragosa y Santiago hit the southern reef at Cocos Island. It was enroute from Acupulco, Mexico to an annual fair in Manila with shipments of silver swords and artifacts. With its bottom torn, the Spanish Manila galleon sank in ocean waters at depths of 30 to 87 feet. Its naval crew, and some Franciscan missionaries escaped the galleon before it slipped into the ocean shelf. Ships that sailed the trade route carry silks, spices and jewelry from Manila to Acapulco. These items were traded and the galleons carried silver and gold ingots and Spanish coins back across the Pacific to manila.

A 1691 Spanish court of inquiry into the Pilar’s loss reported only one chest of silver was recovered. There is a good chance that she was carrying as much as $1.2 billion Spanish coins as ballast in the lower decks of her hold. The sunken hull of the Pilar broke apart during following typhoons and its wreckage drifted into deeper waters. 300 years ago, Guam and the Marianas Island Chain was a provisioning stopover in the Spanish Galleon Trade. [click this line]

The Pacific Daily News reports that so far, Salvagers have recovered iron fasteners, drift pins, musket balls, lead hull sheeting, silver coins, cannon balls, pottery and a religious medallion. The Pilar Project began in 1991, about 1,500 artifacts have been salvaged. The govt of Guam has a claim on the 300 year old wreck and the salvaging rights to the Pilar was awarded to a marine archaeogist Duncan Mathewson, John Bent and Andy Matroci. The story of the ship is a regular feature in a documentary for the Science Frontiers series by the Discovery Channel.

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