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Gold/Mining/Energy : OMEX - Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc -- Ignore unavailable to you. Want to Upgrade?

To: MJ who wrote (35)2/1/2009 3:03:29 PM
From: Glenn Petersen2 Recommendations  Respond to of 61
Wreck of renowned British warship found in Channel

Feb 1, 11:10 AM EST

Associated Press Writer

In this photo released Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009 by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., the Odyssey Explorer's ROV takes a photo of a Bronze cannon on the shipwreck site of HMS Victory bearing the royal crest of King George I, in the English Channel. Florida deep-sea explorers who found $500 million in sunken treasure two years ago say they have discovered another prized shipwreck: the legendary British man-of-war that sank in the English Channel 264 years ago. Odyssey Marine Exploration hasn't found any gold this time, but it's looking for an even bigger jackpot. The company's research indicates the HMS Victory was carrying 4 tons of gold coins. (AP Photo/Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Florida deep-sea explorers who found $500 million in sunken treasure two years ago say they have discovered another prized shipwreck: A legendary British man-of-war that sank in the English Channel 264 years ago.

Odyssey Marine Exploration hasn't found any gold this time, but it's looking for an even bigger jackpot. The company's research indicates the HMS Victory was carrying 4 tons of gold coins that could be worth considerably more than the treasure that Odyssey raised from a sunken Spanish galleon in 2007, co-founder Greg Stemm said ahead of a news conference set for Monday in London.

So far, Odyssey has recovered two brass cannons from the wreck of the Victory and continues to examine and map the debris field, which lies about 330 feet beneath the surface, Stemm said. The company said it is negotiating with the British government over collaborating on the project.

"This is a big one, just because of the history," Stemm said. "Very rarely do you solve an age-old mystery like this."

Odyssey said the 31 brass cannons and other evidence on the wreck allowed definitive identification of the HMS Victory, 175-foot sailing ship that was separated from its fleet during a storm and sank in the English Channel on Oct. 4, 1744, with at least 900 men aboard. The ship was the largest and, with 110 brass cannons, the most heavily armed vessel of its day. It was the inspiration for the HMS Victory famously commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson decades later.

Odyssey was searching for other valuable shipwrecks in the English Channel when it came across the Victory. Stemm wouldn't say exactly where the ship was found for fear of attracting plunderers, though he said it wasn't close to where it was expected to be.

"We found this more than 50 miles from where anybody would have thought it went down," Stemm said. Federal court records filed by Odyssey in Tampa seeking the exclusive salvage rights said the site is 25 to 40 miles from the English coast, outside of its territorial waters.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman said Sunday the government was aware of Odyssey's claim to have found the Victory.

"Assuming the wreck is indeed that of a British warship, her remains are sovereign immune," he said on condition of anonymity in keeping with government policy. "This means that no intrusive action may be taken without the express consent of the United Kingdom."

He would not say whether the government had begun talks with Odyssey over the future of the find.

Newspapers of the day and other historical records analyzed by the company indicated that the Victory sank off the Channel Island of Alderney near Cherbourg, France. A 1991 British postage stamp depicts the Victory crashing on the rocks there. Pieces of the ship had washed up in various places, but its final resting place had remained a mystery.

The belief that the Victory had crashed onto the rocks had marred an otherwise exemplary service record of the ship's commander, Sir John Balchin, and a lighthouse keeper on Alderney was prosecuted for failing to keep the light on. Odyssey believes the discovery exonerates both men.

"As far as the family is concerned, it is an astonishing revelation," said Robert Balchin, a 66-year-old British university administrator and direct descendant of the commander. "It's as if he's sort of come alive again.

"When I went to see this extraordinary find of the cannon with the coat of arms of the king on the side, it was really a wonderful feeling to know that Sir John Balchin saw that every day, and it brought a very special communion with the past."

The HMS Victory was returning from Lisbon, Portugal, and was probably transporting 100,000 gold Portuguese coins for merchants, according to Odyssey's research. The ship had sailed there to help rescue a Mediterranean convoy blockaded by the French in the River Tagus at Lisbon.

The wreck site is roughly 70 feet by 200 feet and littered with other debris, Odyssey said. Its research ship, Odyssey Explorer, is equipped with a remote underwater robot capable of carefully removing the smallest of items from the bottom and shooting high-resolution photos and video.

Odyssey, a publicly traded corporation, announced in May 2007 that it had raised 17 tons of silver coins from an Atlantic Ocean shipwreck. The company later said it believed the wreck to be the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas, which sank off Portugal in 1804.

Shortly afterward, the Spanish government sued Odyssey in federal court in Tampa to claim the treasure, arguing that the shipwreck was never abandoned by Spain. The case is pending.

Some in the Spanish government have called the company 21st-century pirates, and twice in the months after the 2007 announcement, ships from Spain's Civil Guard seized Odyssey ships off the Spanish coast. Both ships and their crews were released within a week.

The company's relationship with the British government has been more cordial. Odyssey had already negotiated an agreement with British officials regarding the search for the HMS Sussex, which sank in the western Mediterranean in 1694 with gold coins aboard.


Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

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To: MJ who wrote (35)1/16/2011 4:59:05 AM
From: Glenn Petersen  Read Replies (1) | Respond to of 61
WikiLeaks Cables Make Appearance in a Tale of Sunken Treasure and Nazi Theft

New York Times
January 6, 2011

ATLANTA — The latest twist in the WikiLeaks tale is a plot worthy of a Tom Clancy thriller.

It is a story of international intrigue starring millions of dollars in sunken treasure, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the government of Spain and an Impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro of a rain-soaked Paris boulevard, believed to have been stolen by the Nazis.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, a Tampa, Fla., deep-sea treasure hunting company, is using classified cables from the State Department in its legal battle with Spain over who owns $500 million of gold and silver retrieved in 2007 from the wreckage of a Spanish galleon off the coast of Portugal.

The cables, part of more than 250,000 confidential documents obtained by WikiLeaks, include communications between the Spanish cultural minister and the American ambassador to Spain. First published in The Guardian of London and El País of Madrid, they are shrouded in the careful language of international diplomacy.

But Odyssey says they show that the ambassador offered to assist Spain in the fight over the sunken treasure. In return, Odyssey says, Spain was to help get a Madrid museum to return the 1897 Pissarro painting, valued at as much as $20 million, to a California family that says it was illegally taken by Nazis in Germany.

Odyssey has been fighting with Spain over the treasure in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the Justice Department have weighed in supporting Spain’s claim.

But Odyssey says the federal government has had a secret motive for getting involved in the case.
On Wednesday, lawyers for the company filed a motion asking that, based on the cables, the court strike the Justice Department filing and require the government to note its interests in the case.

“Based on the evidence available to us so far, we are quite concerned,” said Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive. “The WikiLeaks cables are opening a window into the inner workings of international diplomacy for the general public, and it isn’t always pretty.”

A State Department spokesman declined to comment Thursday on the legal issue. But William Barron, a lawyer in New York who is representing Spain in the painting case, denied that there was a secret agreement between the Spanish and American governments.

“These are two totally separate issues,” he said. “Somebody is spinning this into a quid pro quo agreement, but the documents do not show that.”

The case has divided local and federal politicians, with a delegation of four congressmen from Florida urging Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Holder to support the treasure hunters.

“I am disturbed by the actions of the State and Justice Departments,” said Representative Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican. “These actions suggest that the U.S. government is ceding its sovereignty to foreign governments.”

Technology experts say the case is the first of many that are likely to draw on the trove of secret information available in the cables. The WikiLeaks documents have primarily been studied by journalists and government experts, but also have application to businesses and private citizens.

Lisa Lynch, a professor of journalism at Concordia University in Montreal and an expert on the WikiLeak phenomena, said the cables contain a wealth of facts about governments, commerce and people involved in dealings with both.

“We’ve really only seen the first wave of fallout from the information,” she said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 8, 2011

An article on Friday about a legal dispute between American sunken treasure hunters and the government of Spain, in which the treasure hunters are using some of the confidential diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks, referred incorrectly to the release of those cables. WikiLeaks has 251,287 cables and has released all of them to several news organizations; it has not released all of them publicly. (According to the State Department, about 2,700 of the cables have been made public to date.) The error also appeared on Dec. 4 in an article about the cables and in an Inside The Times capsule summary for that article.)