The Almiranta, El Gallo Indiano, is now a Florida Keys Shipwreck, but was once the vice-flagship of the 1733 Fleet

The Almiranta Shipwreck doesn’t have any markers or mooring buoys to mark the dive site. The depth of the water is 14'. It’s located in Channel #5 between Craig Key and Long Key. This is NOT a Sanctuary Preservation Area. The GPS coordinates are 24'48.633N and 080'45.932W.

She was a fully armed 60 cannon Spanish Galleon that sailed at the rear of the flotilla. Her nickname was “The Cock of the Indies.” This ship belonged to the King of Spain himself. Her captain was Don Bernadino de Maturana.

Her cargo was loaded in Vera Cruz, Mexico. She was carrying ceramics, vanilla, indigo, dyes and other general cargo. She was also carrying a treasure of several hundred boxes of silver coins and hundreds of copper ingots belonging to the king.

Almiranta Shipwreck

The 1733 Fleet left Havana harbor on Friday, September 13, 1733. The next day the wind suddenly switched directions and blew with great force from the East. The skies turned black and the sea was whipped into huge foaming waves. Seventeen of the 22 ships in the fleet were driven by the hurricane onto and across the reefs that parallel the islands of the Florida Keys.

Almiranta was pushed thru the reef and ran hard aground off Cayo de Viboras, which is called Long Key today. She filled until her decks were awash with sea water. Three of her crew members and a child drown during the storm.

Salvage of the ship's treasure and cargo began soon after the storm had passed. All of the silver coins and most of the copper ingots were recovered along with most of her cargo. The Spanish salvors even stripped the ship of her fittings.

Today she is at the bottom of the ocean on the inside edge of Hawk Channel where she had become a marine eco system of her own. There’s a large ballast stone pile 140' long and 100' wide that stretches in a southeast to northwest direction. The ships keel can be found in the middle of the ballast stone pile. Many other timbers are buried in the sand near by. Sometimes they are uncovered by a hurricane or strong storm passing thru the Florida Keys. She supports a wide variety of colorful marine life including small tropical and reef fish. There are also many species of sponges and hard and soft corals.

If you plan to dive the Almiranta Shipwreck be aware that the current can be strong at times due to the location of the dive site in the Channel. So be sure to check the Florida Keys tide charts before you plan your dive.

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