Long-lost ship found in Namibian desert — with gold aboard

The remains of a Portuguese ship that disappeared on its way to India laden with gold and other treasure about 500 years ago have been found in Namibia’s desert coastline.

Workers at Namdeb Diamond Corporation, a joint operation between DeBeers and the government of Namibia, were the ones to find the vessel in 2008, known as Bom Jesus (“Good Jesus”), Gainesville News reports.

Long-lost ship found in Namibian desert — with gold aboard

About 2,000 gold coins were found. (Image courtesy of Dieter Noli)

Since the miners did not know what they had hit when they discovered pieces of metal, wood and pipes, they called in archaeologist Dieter Noli. But not even he knew at the time how big that find would be.

Fast-forward eight years and the team led by Noli is now able to say that the thousands of mint condition, pure gold coins from Spain and Portugal found on the site, indicate the ship found was the one that disappeared in 1533.

Long-lost ship found in Namibian desert — with gold aboard

Rosary beads and a silver Portuguese coin. (Image courtesy of Dieter Noli)

Amid the wreckage the team also found about 44,000 pounds of copper ingots, which archaeologists believe allowed the ship remain relatively intact all these years.

The diamond mine's security now protects the remains of the shipwreck. Timber, muskets, cannonballs and swords are kept damp, as they have been since the sixteenth century. By keeping its location secretive, most of the find remains out of the public eye.

The situation may soon change, as there are plans to build a museum featuring the shipwreck, though nothing has been confirmed yet.