A westcountry oceanographer is hoping a £1 million contract to excavate a Dutch shipwreck will be the key to creating world-class scientific laboratories in the region.
Plymouth-based Geosa is to carry out recovery work for the second time, on Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company trading vessel which sank in the English Channel in 1740.
The Dutch government contract will include surveying, excavation, recovery and conservation of artefacts from the sunken ship.
The firm was also behind the excavation of the bow of King Henry VIII's warship Mary Rose, which included the recovery of the stem of the vessel in 2005.
But Captain Nigel Boston, managing director of Geosa, expressed his disappointment that most of the post-excavation would be carried out in Holland.
He argues the UK lacks the right facilities, despite his proposal to build a new marine centre in Plymouth, which has been refused planning permission.
Capt Boston said: "While this project is welcome, it will mean that the bulk of the post-excavation recording and conservation work will have to be carried out in Holland. This is very disappointing as the UK has a wealth of very well-trained archeologists, conservators and related specialists who could handle the work.
"This project highlights our need to be able to redevelop our Plymouth site in order that we can create a number of tenanted laboratories to enable graduates and more-established professionals to flourish in the fields they have been trained for."