The Due Diligence Process

Early in the seventeenth century, as exploration and settlement of the New World was beginning to expand, Spain sent large fleets of wooden ships to the New World in search of silver and gold. As these wooden ships traveled the shores of the Americas on their return trips to Spain, they were often overloaded with treasure, even replacing their ballast stones with gold in order to steady the frail vessels and allow them to carry more of the precious cargo. These ships frequently became the victims of wind and weather, and entire fleets of them sank at the hands of Florida’s notorious hurricanes.

For centuries afterward, these ships became the focus of intensive searches by treasure hunters hoping to recover ...

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