An appeals court has ruled that the U.S. government should have authority for now over a Lake Michigan shipwreck that could be The Griffin, a 17th century vessel built by the French explorer La Salle.
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed a ruling by District Judge Robert Holmes Bell in a dispute between the state of Michigan and the private underwater exploration company that found the wreckage seven years ago.
Great Lakes Exploration Group LLC wants the federal government to have jurisdiction but to appoint the company as custodian until the courts determine who has ownership and salvage rights.
The company says the French government may want to submit a claim.
The state is seeking title, saying federal law gives it ownership of all abandoned vessels "embedded in the state's submerged lands."