In the early 17th century, Spain was a superpower, it’s empire vast, and its fleets feared, but no matter how big and powerful you get, nature will always be the apex predator. Built in Havana, in 1620, for the Spanish Crown, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha (Our Lady of Atocha), was a 550-ton, 34 m long, three-masted galleon. Heavily armed with 20 large cannon, and 4-8 smaller ones, she was designed as a rear-guard ship, meant to trail a fleet to protect it from attack from behind.
She was poorly built, not from oak, but from mahogany, which no doubt had a devastating impact on her sinking, just three years later. Carrying a treasure that was so large it took two months to catalogue and load on board, she left Havana on 4 September 1622 as part of a 28-ship convoy headed back to Spain. Two days later, about 140 km from Havana in the Florida Straits, the fleet was battered by a massive hurricane, and eight ships, including both the Atocha, and fellow treasure galleon, Santa Margarita, had been lost. Atocha herself lost 260 of her 265 crew, Margarita giving up 142 lives to the sea.