In 1740, in the first year of war with Spain, Commodore George Anson set sail with a squadron of six British warships. His secret mission, prowling the world's longest, richest, most far-flung ocean trade route, was to seize the legendary Spanish galleon on her yearly voyage from Acapulco to Manila laden with Peruvian silver, "the prize of all the oceans." It was to be a four-year litany of hardship, disaster, mutiny, and heroism. Only one vessel, the flagship Centurion, achieved its goal; the others were wrecked, scuttled, or forced back in tatters. Of more than 1,900 crewmen, almost 1,400 perished of disease or starvation.