For Spain 1715 was the first year of peace following a prolonged and expensive war. Annual shipments of gold and silver from the new world had been drastically curtailed during the War of Spanish Succession. Bullion had accumulated in the New World treasure ports of Cartegena, Porto Bello and Vera Cruz. The 1715 shipment was vital to Spain's exhausted economy. The annual Spanish Plate Fleet due in Cadiz, Spain, in September 1715 never arrived. A hurriance in the Bahamian Channel caught the helpless ships carrying millions in silver, gold, jewels, contraband and precious cargo, including the "Queen's Jewels", commissioned by King Filipe V for his bride.
In the late 1980's Amelia's corporate predecessor was founded to search for two undiscovered 1715 fleet ships, the San Miguel and the Ciervo, after 1715 Spanish coins and artifacts were discovered on the beaches of Amelia Island, Florida. The potential treasure aboard the 180 ton San Miguel alone, which carried 22 cannons, a consignment of tobacco, and a contingent of noblemen (indicating a likely cargo of contraband coins, bullion and jewels), is believed to be very substantial. See research document here. Florida granted Amelia exploration contracts where the ancient coins were found indicating, along with archival research, that one or more of the yet to be discovered 1715 fleet ships may have been lost in the Amelia Lease Project area. Other details of the 1715 Treasure Fleet are described in the summary of the Rosario Salvage Project
In the 1960's the Real Eight Company salvaged the "easy pickings" from the 1715 fleet without the benefit of technological advancements now available to modern salvors, such as advanced magnetometry and side scan sonar. Following Wagner's early work, the Mel Fisher companies acquired the rights to the 1715 fleet wrecks on the central, eastern coast of Florida.