On Friday, July 13, 1733, the Nueva España Fleet, under the command of General Rodrigo de Torres, left the port of Havana bound for Spain.

The fleet consisted of 4 escort galleons, 16 merchant ships and 2 small ships that transported supplies to the Presidio of St. Augustine.

The Rubí Segundo, armed with 60 guns, was the Capitana of the fleet, commanded by Baltasar de la Torre; while the 64-gun galleon Gallo Indiano, was the Almiranta, commanded by Bernardino de Maturana. The escort galleons were the 60-gun Nuestra Señora de Balavaneda, aka El Infante, and the Africa, with the same number of gun ports. These armed galleons protected the merchant ships: San Pedro, San Francisco, San Ignacio, El Sueco, San José y las Ánimas, Tres puentes, San Felipe aka El Terri, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Poder, Nuestra Señora del Carmen aka Chaves, Nuestra Señora de Belén y San Juan Bautista, Nuestra Señora de Belén y San Antonio de Padua aka El Herrera, Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, San Fernando, the frigate Floridiana, a Spanish cutter and a pingue, or pink, called Nuestra Señora del Pópulo.

The following day, as they sighted the Florida Keys, the wind speed and course direction changed drastically and the wind began to blow strongly from the east. Fearing an approaching hurricane, Rodrigo de Torres ordered the ship to return to the port of Havana, but it was too late. At nightfall on July 15, with the storm raging over the keys, most of the ships that made up the fleet were pushed westward; some of them ended up colliding with the shallows or sinking hopelessly.

Only four of the ships managed to return to Havana, among them, the Nuestra Señora del Rosario. A fifth ship, the escort galleon Africa, managed to advance and rescued the crew of the Nuestra Señora del Pópulo, which had run aground to the north, near present-day Elliot Key, and continued on its course until reaching Spain.

In the weeks following the disaster, Spanish cutters were sent to help from Havana, to try to locate the wrecked ships and to tow to port those ships that could still sail. The galleons that could neither be refloated nor towed were set on fire so that divers could access their holds more easily.

Ships assigned to this fleet