Treasure Hunting / Recoveries

Rich and Valuable Shipwreck Cargoes Sought or Recovered Commercially News

  • The shipwreck of the SS Pacific off Washington coast

    Loss of steamship Pacific, a terrible disaster, two hundred lives perish," The Puget Sound Express. Nov. 11, 1875

    By Matthew Smith - Fox News

    The crash and subsequent sinking of the S.S. Pacific in November 1875 predates Washington’s statehood. The crash – one of, if not the deadliest disaster off the Pacific Northwest coast – claimed more than 300 lives.

    Miraculously, two people survived the wreck. Those survivors beat incredible odds. According to records, they clung to wreckage for more than a day before they were rescued. The lifeboats that were on the ship were inoperable; they had been filled with water to balance the ship, which used large paddle wheels powered by the steam engine.

    Henry F. Jelly, one of the survivors, told the Daily British Colonist he was lying in bed when another ship collided with the Pacific. He recalled a terrifying tale of chaos as the ship was sinking with no one behind the ship’s wheel – passengers were crying, including a woman whose child had been killed during the panic of passengers trying to get off the ship.

    While the overall death toll makes the Pacific’s sinking historical, its importance extends beyond the numbers.

    The Pacific had left Olympia early in the morning of Nov. 4, made a number of stops and picked up several prominent and wealthy passengers.

    There has long been belief that gold was aboard, giving the passengers – and those passengers’ connection to the Cassiar gold rush – a gold rush that led to more than a million dollars’ worth of gold coming out of the region in the 1870s, a part of history that’s often forgotten.




  • Shipwreck treasure can't be used as payment for recovery

    Spain also claims rights to the ship's remains, arguing it is still Spanish property and the remains of 570 Spanish citizens contained within the wreck should be respected

    From TRT World

    Treasure from a 300-year-old Spanish shipwreck will not be used as a form of payment for the recovery of the boat, Colombia's government has said.

    "Since we took office we have been concentrating on a solution to avoid the hand-over of part of the sunken patrimony of the San Jose galleon as a payment in kind for the originator of the public-private partnership," Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez said on Monday in a statement, referring to the Swiss company Maritime Archaeology Consultants, which was contracted to carry out the recovery.

    The San Jose galleon, thought by historians to be carrying gold, silver and emeralds that would be worth billions of dollars today, sank in 1708 near Colombia's Caribbean port of Cartagena. Its wreckage was located in 2015.

    The galleon and its recovery have been the subject of decades of litigation.

    The remains of the shipwreck are part of the country's archaeological heritage and cannot be handed over, the statement added, meaning Maritime Archaeology Consultants cannot execute a recovery contract and receive part of the treasure as payment.

    An email to the company seeking comment was not immediately returned. Colombia will put together a new contract for the galleon's recovery, the statement said.

    Full story...



  • Treasure hunters find 900 bottles of cognac

    Peter Lindberg and colleague Floris Marseille show bottles of cognac on October 16, 2019, aboard the Deepsea Worker, the vessel used to salvage the bottles.

    By Devika Desai - Calgary Herald

    Underwater treasure hunters exploring the remains of a sunken Swedish steamer in the Baltic Sea have discovered a motherload of cognac and liqueur bottles stowed on the ship — but are unsure if they’re still drinkable. 

    Divers and unmanned vehicles from Ocean X team — who were the first to discover the steamer ‘Kyros’ in 1999 — and iXplorer have salvaged more than 600 bottles of De Haartman & Co. cognac and 300 bottles of Benedictine liqueur. 

    The bottles were supposed to be delivered from France to St. Petersburg, Russia via Sweden in December 1916, the team posted on their Its trip came to a quick halt when it was stopped by German submarine ‘UC58’. The submarine sank the steamer as the Germans considered parts of the cargo as contraband. The Kyros crew however, were transferred to a nearby ship and were safely returned to Sweden.

    The Benedictine company — now owned by Bacardi — was just 50 years old when the bottles disappeared with the shipwreck. After 100 years of lying underwater, the team has yet to determine whether the alcohol is still suitable to drink.

    “We don’t know yet if its drinkable. We get a fraction of smell from the Benedictine bottles and it smells sweet and from herbs,” Peter Lindberg, a spokesperson for Ocean X, told CNN. “We can’t get any sense of smell from the cognac bottles, but that might just be in order since it should not smell through a cork.”

    Full story...

  • 35-year mission to find a gold-laden shipwreck

    The wrecking of the General Grant

    By Mike White - Stuff

    Bill Day has spent 35 years and millions of dollars trying to find one of the world’s most famous shipwrecks – the gold-laden General Grant.

    The ship struck the Auckland Islands in 1866 and has attracted pirates, treasure hunters and adventurers ever since. Next week, Day leaves from Bluff on his fifth, and final, expedition to discover the wreck. Mike White meets the man who might finally solve the riddle of the General Grant’s gold.

    It was a rare and welcome thing – a calm day in the Auckland Islands, a place notorious for being the storm-slashed graveyard of ships and sailors.

    It was January 1986 and Bill Day had just slithered back on board an inflatable boat after a fruitless dive trying to find the most famous of these wrecks, the General Grant. He perched on the boat’s edge, admiring the cove they were in, a waterfall tumbling off one edge, a neat archway piercing a peninsula.

    “Isn’t it a pity wrecks don’t go down in places like this,” he lamented to the boatman.

    Minutes later, fellow diver Willie Bullock broke the surface clutching a lead weight old ships used to measure the water’s depth. “There’s a bit of s..t down there,” Bullock spluttered.

    Day couldn’t believe his ears or luck – an unknown wreck in a beautiful location, which fitted the description of where the General Grant sank with a fortune in gold. He flicked on his mask and fins, and rolled back into the water.

    As the bubbles cleared in front of his mask and he dived towards the seabed, Day was already thinking that maybe they’d finally solved the mystery of the General Grant that had confounded and eluded so many, for so many years.

    The General Grant had set sail from Melbourne in May 1866, bound for England with 83 crew and passengers on board. It was a 180’ square-rigged sailing ship, built in Maine two years before, and carrying a cargo including wool and skins. But it also carried 2576 ounces (73kg) of gold, probably in bars and sovereigns.

    And on top of that, many of the passengers were miners returning home with small fortunes in gold, scraped and scrabbled from the unforgiving earth of Victoria’s goldfields. On the evening of May 13, 10 days after setting sail, the General Grant’s captain was alarmed to hear a cry from the masthead that land had been sighted dead ahead, and altered course.

    Half an hour later came the same chilling cry.

    Full story...



  • El segundo tesoro de la ‘Mercedes’

    Vicente G. Olaya - El Pais

    El 5 de octubre de 1804, a 30 millas náuticas del cabo de Santa María de Portugal, en actuales aguas internacionales, la Marina Real británica hundió a cañonazos la fragata Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes.

    El inesperado ataque se llevó a cabo violando el Tratado de Paz de Amiens —suscrito entre Francia, España y Reino Unido— de 1802. Murieron 275 tripulantes, mientras un enorme cargamento de oro, plata y cobre se hundía en el mar a unos 1.130 metros de profundidad.

    En 2007, la compañía cazatesoros Odyssey Marine Exploration expolió 600.000 monedas de la carga, aunque España terminó recuperándolas en los tribunales estadounidenses. Sin embargo, como revelan las actas del congreso internacional Archaeology: Just Add Water, celebrado en Varsovia en 2019, ahora hechas públicas, los expoliadores solo se centraron en las monedas y abandonaron todo lo demás.

    Dejaron intacto el segundo tesoro de la Mercedes. Centenares de sus piezas ya han vuelto a España, están siendo restauradas y se expondrán en noviembre. Nunca se había hecho una excavación a tal profundidad.

    En 2014 el Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática, ARQUA, (Cartagena), dependiente del Ministerio de Cultura, inició un proyecto para que España excavase científicamente el pecio. Se trataba de un reto nunca acometido por ningún país.

    Los dos o tres casos anteriores en los que se había bajado por debajo de los 500 metros se habían limitado a filmar y fotografiar. El plan del museo planteaba que era perfectamente posible hacerlo si se aunaban esfuerzos.

    Se invitó al el Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO) y se cursó también invitación a la Armada como institución observadora. Aceptó.

    En verano de 2015, zarpó de Cartagena la primera expedición conjunta a bordo del buque oceanográfico Ángeles Alvariño, del IEO. Al llegar a la vertical del pecio, la primera inmersión del ROV (siglas en inglés de vehículo operado remotamente, un complejo equipo submarino teledirigido), localizó exactamente el corazón de la nave.

    Pero las pantallas de los ordenadores señalaban que los restos estaban muy dispersos debido a la explosión de 1804 y a las técnicas destructivas de Odissey. Se tomaron miles de fotografías y vídeos. La campaña se repitió en las de los veranos de 2016 y 2017.

    A esta última se sumó el Centro de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), que aportó el buque Sarmiento de Gamboa. Los minisubmarinos detectaron esta vez “un tesoro más importante: miles de objetos enterrados bajo el fondo marino que muestran, en parte, cómo era la vida a principios del siglo XIX: de cañones de bronce a vajillas de oro y plata”. “Su valor científico y museístico”, como señala el informe del director del ARQUA y del proyecto, Iván Negueruela, “es incuestionable”.

    El estudio recién publicado por la Universidad de Varsovia titulado The Mercedes 2015–2017 Project: Exploration and Excavation of the Wreck Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (1.138 m depth) (Proyecto Mercedes 2015-2017.

    Exploración del pecio de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (1.138 metros de profundidad) señala que el objetivo de las tres campañas fue definir “la extensión del yacimiento, documentar las condiciones en que quedó este tras el saqueo, realizar un mapa arqueológico de los materiales que permanecen bajo el lecho marino y la extracción de algunos de los materiales detectados”.

    Full story...



  • Meet the 'Bondi Treasure Hunter'

    The Bondi treasure hunter

    By Jonathan Rose - Mail Online

    An Australian treasure hunter has found 50 safes, handguns, bullets, a BMW motorbike, thousands of bicycles, jewellery and the odd gold coin while travelling across the world for more than 15 years.

    Leigh Webber, 40, known as the Bondi Treasure Hunter, specialises in underwater treasure hunting, from magnet fishing in Amsterdam to underwater metal detecting in Ibiza and Thailand.

    His passion for treasure hunting began one summer while swimming at Bondi Beach in his hometown of Sydney, Australia.

    'I'm a surfer. I grew up surfing and even on the flat days I liked to be in the water,' he told MailOnline Travel.

    'On one of the flat days I went for a snorkel and in a spot where people jump in I noticed there were coins on the bottom of the seafloor.

    'I dusted away some sand and there were even more coins. I thought "oh my gosh" and a light went on - "I'm gonna get me an underwater metal detector".

    I just started to get addicted as it was so much fun. 'I noticed everyone around me was looking for fish and I was like "guys, you don't know what you are missing!"'

    Full story...



  • Glasgow shipwreck laden with beer

    By Craig Williams - Glasgow Live

    A shipwrecked vessel that left Glasgow and has lain at the bottom of the sea for over 100 years seems an unlikely place for people to visit in search for a beer.

    But that has proved to be the case with the wreckage of The Wallachia, which lies over 30 metres below the sea in the Firth of Clyde off the coast of Wemyss Bay. Website Scottish Shipwrecks notes that the cargo steamer, built in Southampton and launched in 1883, sank after colliding with another vessel in heavy fog in September of 1895, having left Queen’s Dock in Glasgow bound for Trinidad and Demerara.

    Filled with a cargo that included glassware, footwear and earthenware, the William Burrell & Son-owned steamer was also transporting a large amount of gin and whisky, as well as thousands of bottles of beer made by McEwans of Glasgow.

    Full story...



  • How do you salvage a trove of World War II-era ?

    SS Gairsoppa cargo

    By Tobias Carroll - Inside Hook

    In 1941, the SS Gairsoppa, a British cargo ship, was sunk by a German submarine. Only one member of the crew survived, with dozens perishing in the attack.

    What was left of the vessel remained below the waters of the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland for decades. In 2013, Odyssey Marine discovered the remains of the ship — including a massive haul of silver that was on board when the Germans attacked.

    That trove of silver wasn’t the only valuable thing found in the shipwreck, however. A new report from Allyson Waller at The New York Times focuses on another significant discovery made in the wreckage: a number of letters — more than 700 in total — that offer an intimate and personal glimpse into life during wartime.

    As you might guess, letters that have been in an underwater space for 70-odd years aren’t in the best condition. The Times article focuses on the work conservators are doing to reconstruct the letters, so that we can learn more about who wrote and received them and properly honor those whose lives were lost.

    Full story...


  • Divers retrieve century-old beer bottles

    Beer bottles

    By Sara Janiszewska - Sunderland Magazine

    One-hundred-and-twenty-year-old bottles of beer have helped provide insights into the make-up of ancient ales.

    Research from Brewlab and the University of Sunderland has retrieved live brewing yeasts from century-old bottles of beer to provide detailed information on the microbiology of lost Victorian and Edwardian stock ales.

    Three bottles were retrieved by divers of Global Underwater Explorers from the shipwrecked vessel Wallachia which sank after a collision in the Clyde estuary in 1895. The ship carried a mixed cargo including whisky and beer from the McEwan’s brewery in Glasgow.

    Two additional bottles were from the Bass brewery in Burton upon Trent and contained a 1902 10% ABV barley wine brewed for a visit by King Edward VII. Both beers represent examples of the stock ales commonly reputed as the best of British brewing due to their complex yeast character, high alcohol levels, and long maturation.

    The study, published in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, analysed microbial DNA in the bottles by next-generation sequencing, identifying the yeasts and bacteria initially present.

    Full story...



  • Battle over shipwreck treasure

    By Agnieszka Rakoczy - Cyprus Mail

    Controversy continues to swirl around the discovery in the murky depths of the Mediterranean of a 17th century Ottoman shipwreck in the Lebanese EEZ and the subsequent confiscation of its salvaged cargo by customs officials in Limassol.

    News of the recovery of the artifacts and their confiscation at the end of 2015 recently resurfaced in the wake of a press release issued by Enigma Recoveries, the London-based company that funded the underwater exploration of the site.

    Enigma hailed the discovery as a “once in a generation find that tells the story of the beginning of the globalised world”.

    The company claims the legal problems it has encountered in Cyprus were the result of a simple administrative mistake. The department of antiquities, which currently has custody of the 588 artifacts confiscated in Limassol port, has a decidedly different take.

    It accuses the company of carrying out illicit underwater excavations. Furthermore, the department claims that the people responsible for the underseas operation are no more than professional treasure hunters, motivated solely by their pursuit of a profitable pay-off.



  • Huge Ottoman shipwreck found after 70-year hunt

    A cargo of Chinese Ming porcelain, the earliest found under the Mediterranean Sea. Courtesy Enigma Recoveries

    From Paul Peachey - The National

    Underwater archaeologists have discovered a giant shipwreck two kilometres beneath the Mediterranean Sea that casts new light on the advanced state of multinational trade in the Middle East nearly 400 years ago.

    Cargoes drawn from 14 nations were found on the trading vessel that sank around 1630 while sailing from Egypt to Istanbul. Its load included fine Chinese porcelain fit for the table of Sultan Murad IV, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire, according to the company behind the discovery.

    The 588 items recovered from the wreck in 2015 have been impounded following a dispute over documentation by Cyprus which is seeking to sell them at auction. The UK-based company Enigma Recoveries said it was seeking an “amicable agreement” which would see the items eventually displayed in a major international museum.

    The trader was found by underwater robots two kilometres down in waters off the coast of Lebanon following seven decades of fruitless searching.

    Another 11 wrecks were discovered within a few kilometres, one of which dated back more than 2,000 years, in an area that Enigma described as the “cradle of navigation”. The company believes that the oldest ship was caught in a storm some 2,200 years ago and sank while its crew were at prayer owing to the discovery of religious artefacts on the uniquely preserved deck.

    The search centred on the Levantine Basin, a deep-water area that had attracted less attention for archaeologists then the western Mediterranean, according to Enigma.

    Its experts believe that the large shipment had probably been amassed in Cairo – the second biggest city in the Ottoman empire and a huge centre of trade – before being transported to the port of Alexandria to be loaded for onward passage to Istanbul. “If you want to find better preserved stuff, you have to go into the abyss,” said Dr Sean Kingsley, an adviser to the project.

    “Nothing like this has been found before. This is the archaeological equivalent of finding a new planet.”

    More story...



  • A shipwreck worth billions...

    San Jose

    By Victoria Stunt - BBC

    It was on 8 June 1708 that Spanish galleon San José erupted into flames off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. The ship had been at battle with the British since late afternoon, and by night, the 62-cannon galleon had disappeared into the Caribbean Sea.

    With it, sunk nearly 600 people and up to $20bn worth of gold, silver and jewels.

    For centuries, the San José galleon lay lost on the ocean floor. But the mystery surrounding the ship began to unravel in 2015, when the Colombian government announced it had officially been found. Four years later, the galleon is still 600m deep in Colombian waters. Now, it’s at the centre of a custody dispute among parties all staking claim to the San José’s riches.

    The Colombian government hasn’t revealed the exact location of the famed galleon, which is often called the “holy grail” of shipwrecks.

    But the San José is said to be located close to the Rosario Islands, a tropical archipelago and national park 40km from Cartagena.

    Throngs of small motorboats zoom over the waters as they transport beach-going tourists to the islands each day. While being carried across the sea, it’s difficult not to imagine the San José and its treasure, somewhere out there below.

    Full story...



  • Lost paintings in Russian shipwreck

    Experts say the paintings could be worth millions

    By Neil Murphy - The Mirror

    Paintings by one of Russia's most famous artists which were lost in a shipwreck over 124 years ago could be worth millions of pounds, experts say.A number of highly-valuable works by Ivan Aivazovsky were lost when the General Kotzebue steamship sank off the coast of Crimea in 1895.

    The wreckage was finally discovered last year by divers from Russia's Neptune underwater expedition along with the fragments of ten paintings.

    Aivazovsky is believed to have given the crew the paintings and sketches after he travelled on board their vessel. An earlier expedition to recover the items was halted over fears that the operation would further damage them.

    Roman Dunaev, the head of the Neptune expedition, confirmed to local media in Russia that it woould restart the operation next month. Crimea-born Aivazovsky, who died in 1900, was well-known for his depictions of naval life and was considered one of the greatest masters of marine art.

    Full story...




  • Bottles of vintage wine and champagne discovered

    It is believed that many of the bottles are intact, and indeed, drinkable

    By Hannah Maltwood - Cornwall Live

    An unusual underwater expedition is being planned off the Cornish coast, to send a submarine 100 metres below the ocean to retrieve rare bottles of 100-year-old wine and champagne sitting on the seabed for a century.

    During the First World War a boat laden with alcohol, travelling between England and Bordeaux, was shot down on its journey, by a German U boat. Sinking to the bottom of the sea, the ship and its cargo have laid undisturbed since 1918.

    Now experts want to salvage the historical artefacts in what they believe will be "one of the most significant historical discoveries of the century", and they're allowing a member of the public to go along on the voyage.

    Through a partnership between Cookson Adventures, maritime experts 10994 and dive and survey expert Nigel Hodge, from Cornish Fishing, the wreck has now been located, sitting in the English Channel, just off the coast of Cornwall.

    Full story...



  • Yeast from 1886 shipwreck makes new brew

    Jamie Adams pours a beer that was brewed using some yeast from beer bottles, right, recovered from the shipwreck of the SS Oregon at his St. James Brewery in Holbrook, N.Y.

    From The Detroit News

    The most distinguishing feature of Jamie Adams’ new ale isn’t its hoppy bite but its compelling backstory – brewed from yeast in bottles of beer that went down on a doomed steamship and languished on the ocean floor for 131 years.

    Some who lined up to sample a swig of the new Deep Ascent ale at a craft beer festival last weekend say it provided a refreshing taste of another era.

    “Just the concept that they could bring a beer bottle up from the bottom of the ocean … then be able to extract the yeast from it, that kind of chemistry is fascinating,” says beer enthusiast Peter Bowe of Schenectady. “And the beer is absolutely fantastic.”

    Adams, a former Wall Street trader who opened Saint James Brewery in Long Island nearly two decades ago, says his beer grew out of his love of scuba diving. It was brewed with yeast extracted from bottles he and fellow divers salvaged from the SS Oregon, a luxury liner from Liverpool to New York that collided with a schooner and sank off Fire Island in 1886.

    It lies 135 feet deep in an underwater cemetery known to local divers as Wreck Valley.

    “It’s a wonderful, wonderful shipwreck to dive,” says Adams, 44, “I came up with the idea to make some beer if we came up with some intact bottles.”

    He enlisted a team of divers in 2015 to search for bottles but didn’t hit pay dirt until 2017, after storms shifted sands and made the first-class dining room accessible. They dug down 15 feet in the sea bed to gain access, and then another six feet inside the ship to find a half-dozen bottles upside-down, corks intact. Later dives found 20 more bottles.

    Full story...



  • Mystery anchor found on the seabed in Cornwall

    Some people have suggested that it may be the anchor from the 17th century ship Merchant Royal, which sank off Land's End whilst carrying a cargo of gold

    By Shannon Hards - Cornwall Live

    An huge old anchor trawled in Cornwall may be from one of the most valuable shipwrecks in history.

    The Merchant Royal, a 17th-century English merchant ship, was lost at sea off Land's End in September 1641. It is believed that the ship sank carrying gold, silver and bullion worth hundreds of millions - if not billions - in today’s prices.

    The giant anchor was trawled by the fishing vessel Spirited Lady earlier this week, and is estimated to date back to a period between 1600-1800.

    The anchor's size and age have led some to speculate that it may have once belonged to the Merchant Royal. The ship was rumoured to be the wreck found by the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration in 2007 and known only by the codename Black Swan.

    But after lengthy legal wranglings, Odyssey was ordered to hand over coins recovered from the wreck to Spain, suggesting that the ship was really a Spanish frigate. The case became notorious when it popped up in leaked US diplomatic cables released by the WikiLeaks website.

    Still, as far as we know, the Merchant Royal – nicknamed “the El Dorado of the seas” – is yet to be discovered.

    Full story...



  • Did a conspiracy rob treasure hunters of millions of $?

    The French fleur-de-lis symbol engraved on a 16th-century bronze cannon discovered in a shipwreck off the coast of Cape Canaveral, in Florida

    By Tom Metcalfe - Live Science

    A maritime salvage company of "treasure hunters" discovered some of the United States' oldest European artifacts in shipwrecks near Cape Canaveral in 2016.

    Now, the finders are suing the state of Florida for millions of dollars in damages, alleging a conspiracy of sorts between the governments of France and Florida to deprive the company of its share of the spoils.

    Global Marine Exploration (GME) alleges that some Florida state officials misused their knowledge of the location of the artifacts — including several 16th century cannons, estimated to be worth $1 million each — and colluded with France to help that nation take control of the shipwreck sites and artifacts.

    Between May and June of 2016, GME's divers discovered the cannons and other debris from three colonial-era shipwrecks buried beneath a few feet of sand on the shallow. 

    The company was operating using six underwater-exploration permits for the Cape Canaveral area that the state of Florida had approved. But after the company reported its find to state officials, the shipwreck sites and artifacts became the subject of a legal dispute between GME and the nation of France, which was supported in its legal claim by the state of Florida.

    Earlier this year, a judge in a U.S. federal district court ruled that the shipwrecks and any artifacts they contained belonged to France, because the ships had been part of the expeditions to Florida in 1562 and 1565, which were funded by the French government of the day and led by the explorer Jean Ribault. GME's research suggests that the ships were Spanish, not French, and that GME would have been able to prove the ships were Spanish if the state of Florida had issued underwater-recovery permits to let GME recover some of the artifacts for identification.

    Full story...



  • Divers search Sea of Galilee wreck for mythical WWI treasure

    The wreckage of Ottoman boat Sharia in the Sea of Galilee

    From Times of Israel

    Divers in the Sea of Galilee are searching for a fabled sunken treasure, 100 years after the boat purportedly carrying it was drowned in a World War I battle.

    The Ottoman steamboat Sharia was sunk by the British Royal Air Force on September 25, 1918 in the north of the lake, as it sought to flee advancing British and Australian forces during battles for control of the region.

    Rumors swirled after Sharia’s sinking that the boat was loaded with gold when it was sunk.

    “Sharia served as a bank for the Turkish government,” underwater photographer Amir Weizman of Aquazoom told Channel 10 news, relating the tales.

    “The Turks feared leaving the gold and silver used to pay the salaries of soldiers…on dry land due to robbers, so they put it on the boat. At night the boat would sail to the middle of the Sea of Galilee and that’s how they avoided theft.”

    The Sharia lay undisturbed at the bottom of the lake for decades.

    In 1989 its wreckage was discovered by divers, though no gold was found — only the ship’s name plate and several ancient swords.

    Divers returned to the wreckage in 2012 and filmed it for the first time but did not find any gold. In recent days the boat is once again being examined by teams from the Yam-Yafo underwater survey company.

    Full story...



  • The wreck of the steamship Pulaski

    The gold watch discovered

    From Mark Price - Island Packet

    Divers recovering artifacts off the steamship Pulaski have made an eerie find that gives credence to eyewitness accounts of the night the ship sank in 1838, taking some of the nation’s richest people to the bottom of the Atlantic.

    A mysterious “grapefruit-sized” encrustation found at the site off North Carolina’s coast turned out to be a heavily decorated solid gold pocket watch attached to a gold chain.

    However, what has historians buzzing is the fact that the watch’s hands are frozen at 11:05. That’s 5 minutes after the time witnesses say the ship’s boilers exploded on the night of June 14, 1838. The dramatic sinking, often referred to as “the Titanic of its time,” occurred 180 years ago this month.

    “We were shocked,” said Max Spiegel of Certified Collectables Group, which is handling preservation of Pulaski artifacts.

    “It’s very unusual to see an artifact with that sort of impression of a historic moment, when a ship sank. Think about how fragile the watch’s hands are, yet they survived in that exact position. It’s one of the most exciting finds we’ve handled, and we’ve done a half dozen shipwrecks.”

    The sinking of the Pulaski continues to intrigue historians for countless reasons, including the fact that its ill-fated passengers were then among the wealthiest people in the Eastern United States.

    Full story...



  • Shipwrecks: Who owns the treasure hidden under the sea ?

    Sunk by the British navy

    From BBC News

    New details have emerged about the San Jose, a Spanish galleon sunk by British ships 300 years ago.

    The vessel was said to be transporting gold, silver and precious gems collected in the South American colonies to be shipped to Spain's King Philip V to help finance the war of Spanish succession. Colombia said it first discovered the wreck, located somewhere off the coast of Cartagena, in 2015.

    Last year, the president Juan Manuel Santos said the salvage operation "begins a new chapter in the cultural and scientific history, not only of Colombia but of the entire world".

    Meanwhile, a team of marine archaeologists, with the help of an underwater robot, started an investigation and have published new information about what has been uncovered so far. Some people have already speculated it could be the most valuable shipwreck of all time and worth billions.

    The San Jose is one of thousands of shipwrecks around the world and excavating historic cargo is an enticing prospect for archaeologists and treasure hunters.

    So, who has the rights to a shipwreck ?

    Full story...



  • Lost nazi gold found near Nordic country

    Treasure Iceland

    From Sputnik News

    A group of divers from UK-based Advanced Marine Services discovered a chest inside a WWII shipwreck where it laid untouched for almost 78 years.

    According to Metro, the chest could contain up to four tons of valuable metal, believed to be gold from South American banks. It could be worth up to £100 million (US $130.8 million). 

    The SS Minden, a German cargo ship, headed to Germany when it was allegedly noticed by the British Navy; therefore Nazi officials ordered in September 1939 to sink the SS Minden some 190 kilometers southeast of Iceland.

    Advanced Marine Services applied to Iceland's government for permission to open the chest. The Icelandic officials will decide on who owns the shipwreck in the Atlantic.

    Treasure hunters and researchers have been chasing missing Nazi gold for decades. There is a widespread legend about three Nazi German-era gold-laden trains, which were buried in secret underground tunnels built by the Nazis in early 1945.

    The trains have never been found, but according to rumors, they contain 300 tons of gold, weapons, artwork and jewelry.

    Full story...







  • Colombia to salvage legendary shipwreck

    British painter Samuel Scott (1702-1772) depicted the moment that the Spanish galleon San Jose burst into flames and sank with its treasure off the coast of Colombia.

    By Jim Wyss -

    Colombia is pushing ahead with plans to salvage one of the hemisphere’s richest and most legendary shipwrecks — even as a U.S. company insists that it deserves a share of the treasure that went down with the San Jose galleon three centuries ago.

    In a news conference Wednesday, President Juan Manuel Santos said an unnamed investor will finance the rescue of the Spanish galleon, which was sunk by the British Navy in 1708 off Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

    Santos said he couldn’t reveal the name of the investor until July 14, but said it’s someone, or an institution, “that will guarantee a process that’s respectful of the historical and cultural value of the galleon,” which the government first acknowledged discovering in December 2015.

    Santos said the investor had agreed to a public-private partnership that will bring together a “dream team” of archaeologists and engineers to salvage the wreck and put it on display in the tourist port city of Cartagena.

    Those plans put the government at odds with Sea Search Armada, a salvage company based in Bellevue, Wash., that claims it identified the site of the San Jose in the 1980s.

    After years of legal battles, SSA won a 2007 ruling in Colombia’s Supreme Court granting it rights to half of the riches not considered “national patrimony.”

    The government, however, insists it found the wreck independently of previous research efforts.

    How much the wreck might be worth is a matter of fevered speculation, but when the San Jose went down, it was thought to be carrying six years’ worth of accumulated gold, silver and emeralds destined for Spain.

    Full story...







  • Wreck of Nazi ship once owned by Britain

    Experts believe the ship may have been used to carry precious loot from occupied parts of the Soviet Union

    By Neal Baker - The Sun

    A nazi ship has been discovered in the depths of the Black Sea — and it could be stashing priceless plunder. The Boy Federsen, believed to be used to transport stolen art, was found close to Crimea in south-western Russia.

    It had once been briefly owned by the British after being handed over by Germany in 1919 as part of post-war reparations. But it was then sold to a Spanish company that re-named the ship from its original moniker, Anhalt, to Aya-Mendi.

    In 1931 the ship was then passed on to the Soviet Union and named the Kharkov. The Kharkov was almost destroyed in a huge storm travelling from Britain carrying grain. And Soviet soldiers damaged the ship in 1943 when the port of the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine was occupied during World War II.

    But Nazi engineers managed to repair the ship and renamed it one more time, this time calling it the Boy Federsen.

    Full story...



  • Secret of the Deep: The City of Benares

    The City of Benares may have been directly targeted in a bid to scuttle Britain’s gold transports

    By Patrick Knox - The Sun

    A team of shipwreck explorers believe they’ve found the real reason behind why Nazi U-boats sunk a ship carrying children – one of World War 2’s worst maritime atrocities.

    For the City of Benares may have been targeted because Germany believed there was a secret cargo of gold bullion aboard.

    Some 262 passengers and crew perished on the middle of night in September 1940 when the 11,000-ton City of Benares was torpedoed while carrying evacuees to Canada.

    Now divers have been exploring the wreck in a bid to find £4.5 billion worth of bullion.

    Speaking to MailOnline, Will Carrier, operations director of Britannia’s Gold which carrying out the gold hunt, said “We will not touch the City of Benares. “We will treat all these wrecks with respect but Benares is designated as a war grave and should be treated as such. “It’s still a very sensitive subject.”

    Full story...







  • Treasure hunters target Hull ship HMS Kingston

    Ruben Collado is a veteran treasure hunter and thinks he can raise the Hull ship HMS Kingston

    From Hull Daily Mail

    An Argentinian treasure hunter is hoping to strike a £1 billion gold haul by bringing a 300-year old Hull-built ship to the surface.

    The HMS Kingston was built in Hull in 1697 but now lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, off the Uruguayan coast where it was sunk in 1763. But Ruben Collado hopes to resurrect the ship, which was renamed the Lord Clive, believing it to hold £1 billion in gold bullion on board.

    Next month he will be begin his exploration of the ship renamed after Clive of India.

    Collado told The Times: 'The imperial vessel could contain €1,200m in gold coins. 'And that is without considering goods such as rum, opium and silk stored in lead pipes.

    'The important thing is to get these ships because they will give us the true magnitude of the story, This is the history of Latin America and the Spanish.'

    The 64-gun vessel, which was built in Hull, sailed to South America for the East India Company to bring funds and personnel for British military campaigns. But the ship was sunk by cannon fire during the Seven Year's War in an attempt to retake Colonia del Sacramento, a former colony of British ally Portugal, after it was seized by the Spanish.

    Full story...








  • Undersea explorer Barry Clifford discovered the Whydah Gally

    Clifford is pictured next to a bell once belonging to the pirate ship Whydah Gally

    From Mail Online

    The undersea explorer who discovered the Whydah Gally, the first authenticated pirate shipwreck in North America, believes he's found where the ship's legendary treasure lies after more than 30 years of poking around the murky waters off Cape Cod.

    Barry Clifford says his expedition recently located a large metallic mass that he's convinced represents most if not all of the 400,000 coins and other riches believed to be contained on the ship.

    'We think we might be at the end of the rainbow,' Clifford said in the recently opened Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod, where many of the expedition's finds are now showcased.

    Maritime archaeologists and historians say they're intrigued but remain skeptical, mostly because he's been disproved on other finds.

    'Barry Clifford's many claims can be very exciting, if they can be verified with photographs or scientific proof,' said Paul Johnston, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. who specializes in shipwrecks.

    'Until then, it's just talk.' The former slave ship, commanded by the English pirate Samuel 'Black Sam' Bellamy, went down in stormy seas off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1717, killing all but a handful of the nearly 150-person crew.

    It's believed the heavily laden ship sunk quickly, leaving the ill-gotten riches from over 50 ships at the bottom of the ocean. But Victor Mastone, chief archaeologist for the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, which oversees shipwrecks and other undersea finds, suggests the pirates could have simply been lying.

    'Did they brag more than they should have ? Who knows ?' he said. 'We know what the pirates said they had.'

    Full story...







  • Recovered gold from SS Islander up for sale for $4 million

    SS Islander

    By Paul Gilkes - Coinworld

    Twelve-hundred troy ounces of Alaskan Gold Rush gold recovered in 2012 from the 1901 shipwreck of the SS Islander is being offered for $4 million exclusively through private treaty by Fred N. Holabird from Holabird Western Americana Collections LLC.

    The gold is unrefined placer gold contained in five original leather pokes, all sealed, and the contents of a sixth leather poke that broke open during the recovery process, according to Holabird.

    Holabird is acting as the exclusive agent for the salvors. Placer gold is often found in alluvial deposits of sand and gravel in modern or ancient stream beds.

    The Islander, a 240-foot-long steamship owned by the Canadian-Pacific Navigation Co., was bound from Skagway, Alaska, to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in the early morning hours of Aug. 15, 1901, when the vessel struck a submerged iceberg in Stephens Passage, next to Douglas Island, shearing the port bow.

    The ship sank in 20 minutes, claiming the lives of 40 among the 107 passengers and 61 crewmembers reported aboard. Records suggest that gold valued then at $275,000 was aboard the Islander, a total that subsequently was quickly reported in news accounts as high as $2 million to $3 million.

    The gold was in the form of placer gold that was secured in either locking leather mail sacks or gold pokes — elongated leather sacks containing the unrefined gold from Alaska’s Klondike.

    Full story...







  • Gold nugget worth £50,000 is washed up on Anglesey

    A golden nugget, similar to these, was found in Dulas Bay

    From Wales Online

    A man was left stunned after he uncovered the heaviest golden nugget found in the UK in more than 200 years, worth an incredible £50,000.

    Vincent Thurkettle found the piece of gold, weighing 97.12g, off the coast of Anglesey , and it is believed to be part of a £120m haul that went down with the Royal Charter steam clipper, that became shipwrecked off Porth Alerth in Dulas Bay in 1859.

    He said he spotted it in a crevice off the sea bed, and is almost twice as heavy as the UK’s second biggest nugget, found in Cornwall in 1808, which weighed 59g. He said: “I was absolutely stunned when I first saw the nugget. The sun was out so the gold was gleaming and because it was under water it was magnified, so it looked huge.

    “I was really only expecting to find gold dust so I couldn’t believe it when I realised it was a huge nugget, it was a magical moment.” Having heard the news, excited treasure hunters are now making beelines to the beach after Vincent, 60, made the discovery.

    Before making the find on the island, Vincent spent seven summers on Anglesey looking, taking six weeks out of his summer to search for gold dust.

    He brings along his family and friends to help, and uncovered the most recent nugget while shallow diving a few metres from the shore, and around 40 metres from the scene of the shipwreck of the Royal Charter - a ship that was carrying gold from Australia.

    Full story...







  • The heyday of treasure hunting might be at hand

    A diver at the site of the shipwreck off the coast of Tonga Photo: AFP/Matafonua Lodge/Darren Rice

    By Joseph Neighbor

    Recent advances in deep-water technology have opened vast swaths of the ocean previously unavailable to humans.

    Up until the mid-20th century, underwater exploration was limited to a depth of about 200 feet, representing about 5% of the ocean. We now routinely go 20,000 feet and beyond. We’ve even visited the deepest point—the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench, some 36,000 feet below the surface—multiple times now.

    For the first time, we have access to ocean in its entirety.

    And in these abysmal depths lay untold billions in sunken gold, silver, and emeralds, not to mention priceless caches of cultural history thought to be lost forever. How much is all this hidden treasure worth ?

    UNESCO estimates there are three million shipwrecks underwater right now. No one has any idea exactly what each was carrying, so any guess as to value is speculation. And a gold coin fetched from a shipwreck and brought to market without context is worth the value of gold—no more, no less.

    But a gold coin retrieved and documented with archeological diligence and sold as a historical artifact is worth much, much more.

    Our new technological capabilities stem not from revolution—sonar has been around for over a hundred years; submersible vessels since the mid-18th century—but of refining, allowing for deeper dives on sounder information.

    Take, for instance, the El Faro, a US cargo ship sank by a hurricane off the Florida Keys last October, taking all 33 sailors aboard with it. After weeks of intense search and rescue, the vessel was located at some 15,000 feet, or about three miles, below the surface—a depth utterly impossible to reach or explore a few decades ago.

    Full article...









  • The fight over billions in sunken treasure

    This undated photo taken by Colombia’s Anthropology and History Institute (ICANH) and distributed by Colombia’s Ministry of Culture, shows sunken remains from the Spanish galleon San Jose, on the seafloor off Cartagena, Colombia.

    By Jim Wyss - News Observer

    When Colombia announced early this month that it had discovered the wreckage of the San José galleon, brimming with colonial-era bullion and studded with bronze cannons, President Juan Manuel Santos hailed it as an “enormous” find for “all of humanity.”

    The 300-year-old shipwreck had been identified, he said, thanks to the work of world-class scientists, Colombia’s navy, and a mysterious, bearded researcher who Santos said “looks like Hemingway” and who gave him a previously unknown map.

    But a U.S.-based salvage outfit, called Sea Search Armada, has a more prosaic explanation for the discovery: It claims it found the San José more than 30 years ago and provided the coordinates to the government in 1982.

    In 2007, after a lengthy legal battle, Colombia’s Supreme Court reaffirmed the rights of SSA, based in Bellevue, Wash., to half of the riches on the ship not considered national patrimony.

    The government insists it found the San José independently and at a previously uncharted site. But as far as SSA is concerned, the “rediscovery” is a backdoor attempt to deny them their share.

    Danilo Devis Pereira, the company’s longtime lawyer in Colombia, said the administration’s Dec. 5 announcement defies logic. “Either there are two San José galleons or they found the same one a second time,” he said from his office in the coastal city of Barranquilla.

    “If it’s true that they found the shipwreck in another area then I’ll rip my arm off.”

    Full article...







  • Shipwreck of Spanish galleon found

    San Jose found

    From 3News

    Colombia says it has found the shipwreck of a Spanish galleon laden with gold and precious stones, three centuries after it was sunk by the British in the Caribbean.

    "This is the most valuable treasure that has been found in the history of humanity," declared President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday (local time), speaking from the port city of Cartagena, close to where experts made the find.

    Treasure hunters had searched for the ship for decades, and although they found plenty of other wrecks, the San Jose's final resting place had remained a mystery.

    The San Jose was sunk in June 1708 off Colombia's Caribbean coast, during combat with British ships in the War of the Spanish Succession.

    The galleon was the main ship in a treasure fleet carrying gold, silver and other valuable items to Spain from its American colonies.

    Only a handful of the ship's crew of 600 survived when the San Jose sank.

    A team of Colombian and foreign researchers studied winds and currents of the Caribbean 307 years ago and delved into archives in Spain and Colombia searching for clues.

    Experts confirmed that they found the San Jose on November 27, Santos said.

    The experts confirmed that they located the San Jose because the ship was carrying unique bronze cannons with engraved dolphins.

    Full story...







  • New technology for shipwreck treasure

    In an undated handout photo, silver coins recovered from the San Jose at the Investigaciones Marinas del Istmo conservation lab in Panama

    By Frances Robles - The Age World

    The Spanish galleon San Jose was overloaded with 200 passengers and 700 tons of cargo on a summer night in 1631 when it smashed into a rock off the Pacific coast of Panama, spilling silver coins and bars into the Gulf of Panama.

    More than 400,000 coins and at least 1417 bars were lost over a 65 kilometre trail. Four hundred years later, that shipwreck has become one of the latest to land in a legal quagmire over who should have the rights to historic artifacts trapped under the sea.

    This one involves the United Nations, the US Department of Homeland Security, the government of Panama and Americans accused of being pirates.

    At issue is whether private companies should be able to claim and profit from historic treasures.

    Those questions are of particular interest to businesses in South Florida at a time when technology is making it easier to find and recover sunken loot.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that there are more than 1000 shipwrecks in the Florida Keys alone.

    Full story...







  • "Golden" anniversary

    Florida treasure hunters last month found more than 350 coins from a 1715 shipwreck

    From The Washington Post

    Diver William Bartlett had just started exploring a 300-year-old shipwreck with a metal detector late last month in the waters off Florida’s Atlantic Coast when he found his first Spanish gold coin.

    Then one coin became two, and two became so many he had to stuff them into his diving glove.

    When he resurfaced, “every fingertip was stacked with gold coins, and we knew then we were into something super special,” the captain of his boat, Jonah Martinez, said Thursday.

    Over the next two days, Martinez, Bartlett and another treasure hunter, Dan Beckingham, found 350 coins worth $4.5 million, the most valuable find from the 1715 shipwreck site in recent decades.

    Eleven treasure-laden ships that made up the 1715 Fleet were heading to Spain from Havana, Cuba, on July 31, 1715, when they encountered a hurricane off Florida’s central coast.

    The winds and waves smashed the ships onto reefs, claiming as many as 1,000 lives in one of colonial Spain’s biggest maritime disasters off Florida.

    Now it’s turning out to be a treasure trove.

    Full story...







  • Stunned divers find £600k buried treasure in 300-year-old shipwreck

    What a find: The family discovered over £600k worth of treasure on the sea floor

    By Cara O'Neil - The Mirror

    A family of divers were stunned when they discovered £600,000 worth of buried treasure in the wreck of a ship that sank almost 300-years-ago to the day.

    The Schmitt family, from Florida, retrieved 51 gold coins, a 40 foot ornate gold chain and a single coin, called a Royal, thought to have been made for King Phillip V of Spain.

    All together, the family's plunder totals a whopping $1million (or £638,000), with the Royal coin alone thought to be worth about half that amount.

    Even more unbelievably, their haul was found by diving in water just 15 feet deep. The treasure, which has been verified by 1715 Fleet - Queen Jewels LLC, is from a ship that sank on July 30, 1715, during a hurricane, which killed the entire crew.

    The vessel was en route from Havana, Cuba, to Spain and was one of 11 to sink in the terrible weather.

    Full article...







  • The quest to reproduce the world’s oldest shipwreck beer

    Oldest beer of the world

    By Mckenna Stayner - The New Yorker

    In the summer of 2010, Christian Ekström, a diver from the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of around sixty-five hundred isles off of Finland’s west coast, began searching for a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, based on a tip he’d received from a fisherman.

    The Baltic’s temperature is unusually consistent (between about thirty-nine and forty-three degrees Fahrenheit on its seabed), and it hasa salinity level that is less than a fifth that of oceans.

    Its coastal waters are also treacherously shallow. All of this makes it particularly well suited to sinking ships, and then, once they’ve sunk, to preserving them for centuries.

    (Creatures commonly known to erode wrecks, like shipworms, can’t survive in such brackish waters.)

    As a result, the Baltic has an estimated hundred thousand shipwrecks, only a fraction of which have been explored. Ekström and his dive partners soon found a small, wooden schooner, a hundred and fifty-five feet underwater, coated in sand and algae.

    Its hull had ruptured and there were no name signs or ship bells by which to identify it. Shining his headlamp into the large gash in the ship, Ekström saw some dark-green bottles, lying corked among broken planks of mossy wood. He reached in and pulled one free. As he rose to the surface with the bottle, the cork began to work its way out.

    He pushed it in with his thumb. Back on the boat, it poppedout completely.

    “All this aroma came through,” he told me recently. “It was phenomenal. And we tasted it without any knowledge of what we were drinking.”

    Full story...




  • Ship that could have changed Latin America history to be salvaged

    Treasure hunter Ruben Collado with a scale model of British warship, the Lord Clive

    From Latin American Herald Tribune

    The 60-gun British privateer Lord Clive, sunk in combat off the coast of Uruguay in 1763 during a raid that might have changed the history of Latin America, will be brought up from the floor of the River Plate.

    If that ship had not failed in the attempt to take the city of Colonia, nowadays we might all be speaking English in Latin America,” said Argentine treasure-hunter Ruben Collado, who found the wreck.

    The ship lies just 350 meters (380 yards) off Colonia del Sacramento.

    Spain and Britain were on opposite sides in the Seven Years War, a multifaceted European conflict that extended to the Americas, West Africa, India and the Philippines.

    British merchants desperate to break Madrid’s monopoly on trade with Spanish colonies in the New World saw in the war a chance to force their way into the South American market.

    The Lord Clive – launched in 1697 as the Royal Navy vessel HMS Kingston – was sold in 1762 to privateers linked to the British East India Company.

    The Clive arrived in the River Plate in 1763, carrying guns intended for would-be rebels in Spanish bastions such as Buenos Aires, Lima and Santiago.

    When the British raiders found Spanish defenders on the alert in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, they headed to Colonia del Sacramento, a Portuguese stronghold 180 kilometers (111 miles) west of Montevideo.

    Under the command of Capt. Robert McNamara, the small British force intended to take on supplies at the Portuguese post.

    What the British didn’t know was that their Portuguese allies had lost Colonia to Spanish troops two months earlier.

    At noon on Jan. 6, 1763, the Lord Clive’s 32 port-side cannons opened fire but the squat buildings and huts of Colonia remained untouched because of McNamara’s faulty ballistic calculations: with the ship so close to the coast, the shells sailed harmlessly over the targets.

    Full article...

  • Pirate Captain Kidd's 'treasure' found in Madagascar

    Captain Kidd's treasure ?

    From BBC News

    A 50kg (7st 9lb) silver bar was brought to shore on Thursday on the island of Sainte Marie, from what is thought to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley.

    The bar was presented to Madagascar's president at a special ceremony. US explorer Barry Clifford says he believes there are many more such bars still in the wreck.

    Capt Kidd was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless criminal and was executed in 1701.

    "Captain's Kidd's treasure is the stuff of legends. People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head - I thought what the heck just happened to me.

    I really didn't expect this," Mr Clifford said. "There's more down there.

    I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It's too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides."

    The BBC's Martin Vogl tweets that there is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford's team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.

    The team believes the bar, marked with what appears to be a letter S and a letter T, has its origins in 17th-Century Bolivia.

    It believes the ship it has found was built in England, however there is bound to be scepticism and calls for more proof that the bar was linked to Capt Kidd, our reporter says.

    Full article...

  • British salvage boat recovers treasure from wreck of SS City of Cairo

    SS City of Cairo

    By Henri Samuel -

    A British-led team has broken the world underwater salvage record after recovering almost 50 million dollars (£34 million) worth of silver coins from the wreck of a British steamship 17,000 feet under the sea, it emerged on Tuesday.

    The SS City of Cairo was sunk by a German submarine 480 miles south of St. Helena on November 4 1942 en route from Bombay to England with 100 tons of silver coins on board housed in 2,000 rectangular black boxes.

    The U-68 struck the slow-moving steamship with one torpedo but waited a further 20 minutes before inflicting the coup de grace, thus allowing all but six of the ship's 302 passengers and crew to escape on to lifeboats.

    The German captain, Karl-Friedrich Merten, then approached the lifeboats and famously told the survivors in perfect English: "Goodnight, sorry for sinking you."

    It took three weeks before the bulk of the crew were rescued, by which time 104 people on board the lifeboats had died.

    The ship's vast treasure in silver rupees belonging to the UK Treasury was thought lost forever.

    Full story...

  • Odyssey's HMS Victory faces judicial review

    HMS Victory

    From Seeking Alpha

    The confirmation of the legal moves came when a spokesperson for the MoD told thePipeLine that it would not be appropriate to comment on certain aspects of the HMS Victory 1744 controversy because "Lawyers representing Her Majesty's Government are awaiting service of proceedings from an individual who is seeking a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State's decision.

    A judicial review is effectively asking the courts to investigate the propriety of actions taken by the government - in this case the Ministry of Defense's (MOD) award of the HMS Victory to the MHF/OMEX.

    The first step is for someone to seek permission from the judge after serving the other side notice. Then it would be filed with the courts and await a hearing where a judge will decide if there is merit to the review or not.

    The process will at a minimum shine serious bright light on the decisions made by the MOD in their award: was their proper due diligence done?

    Is OMEX financially capable of completing the work ? Were there any improprieties in the bidding process ? etc.

    Ultimately it seems like it will certainly add a great deal of time and expense to the process if the judge approves it and at worst case possibly reverse the grant altogether.

    At a minimum, it will have to clarify the still vague language that the OMEX Bulls are hanging onto that OMEX will be able to sell the 'trade goods' and other personal artifacts that some are arguing fall outside the deed of gift, despite that appearing to be in contradiction to the UNESCO Annex and UK Museum Code as we elaborated on previously.

    After the Nov 7th letter officially warning OMEX for 4 infractions at the HMS Victory site (which we formally uncovered using the UK Freedom of Information Act), OMEX seems to be having a slow time getting the MMO license required to revisit the Victory site.

    Full article...

  • Le Griffon 1679 shipwreck found

    Le Griffon

    By Bonnie K. Goodman - Examiner

    By accident, two treasure hunters have found the holy grail of all shipwrecks Le Griffon that vanished on its maiden voyage in 1679, and its location not discovered until now.

    In 2011, Kevin Dykstra and Frederick Monroe looking for the mythical $2 million in Confederate gold lost as well in Lake Michigan, instead they hit on another treasure one with less monetary value.

    The treasure seekers kept their find a secret for nearly four years until they could confirm it was the famed lost ship.

    They waited all the way until December 2014 to take their incredible finding public.

    The news was met with skepticism from historians and archeologists. Still Dykstra and Monroe are convinced they solved one of North American history's great mysteries.

    The French explorer Robert LaSalle embarked on the maiden voyage on Sept. 18, 1679 in his new 40-foot ship with a crew of six travelling from today's Green Bay, Wisconsin to Niagara.

    The New France explorer's ship was full of furs, and it was during their return trip that they hit troubled waters.

    The ship vanished after a storm somewhere in the waters of Northern Lake Michigan. Since the ship was never found nor any of the crew conspiracies sprung up, among the most popular theories, natives captured the vessel, mutiny by the ship's crew and the most probable reason, a storm.

    An account of the voyage explained why it was impossible to find in over 330 years "with a light and very favorable wind from the West. It has not been possible to ascertain since what course they steered."

    Full story...

  • Underwater archaeologist still seeks Florida shipwreck

    From Examiner

    The term underwater archaeology conjures up images of discovering artifacts long-hidden on the seafloor. The more romantic notions involve treasure-hunting amongst shipwrecks.

    One notable underwater archaeologist is Robert Marx, who has written over 60 books on the subject. He was one of the founders of the Council on Underwater Archaeology as well as the Sea Research Society. Marx was also instrumental in creating the professional research degree of Doctor of Marine Histories.

    For these and more, Marx has earned the description of being “The True Father of Underwater Archaeology,” according to noted diving pioneer and magazine publisher, Dr. E. Lee Spence.

    Marx’s main quest nowadays is a 1715 Spanish shipwreck that occurred off the Florida coast, near what is now Sebastian Inlet. It involved the flagship Capitana, which was then skippered by Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla.

    “The 300th-year anniversary is coming up for the loss of that wreck and the whole fleet,” Marx informs. “I want to make sure people know about it.”

    Centuries ago, during the Age of Exploration, fleets carrying treasure from the Americas would travel to Spain in galleons loaded with precious cargo. The return trip to Spain was often more hazardous because crews by then were fatigued – or even plagued by malnutrition and tropical diseases.

    What’s more, the heavily laden fleet became vulnerable to pirate attacks. But bad weather was considered the greatest threat on account of its unpredictability.

    Spain was highly dependent on the influx of riches from the New World to fill its coffers. Unfortunately the expansion policies of France, Britain, the Dutch, and the Holy Roman Empire had practically dwindled the currency flow from the Americas to Spain.

    The English were a particularly formidable foe, effective in sinking many of Spain’s ships. By 1715 the War of Succession had ended, and Spain was in even more dire need of New World gold and silver to relieve its financial strain.


  • Shipwreck salvager recovers 15,500 gold, silver coins

    Central America

    By Frik Els - Mining

    Odyssey Marine Exploration announced Tuesday that it recovered recovered more than 15,500 silver and gold coins including Double Eagles, 45 gold ingots, gold dust, nuggets jewelry and other artifacts

    from the SS Central America shipwreck site since April.

    "While the exact value of the recovered Central America cargo will not be known until it is monetized, we know it is valued in the tens of millions of dollars and well in excess of the project costs,” said Mark

    Gordon, Odyssey's chief executive officer.

    The SS Central America wreck was discovered in 1988 at a depth of 7,200 feet and the Florida-based company said during the final month of the 2014 recovery season, the Odyssey Explorer performed a

    161,000-square-meter, high-resolution video survey of the shipwreck and surrounding seabed.

    An additional survey with Odyssey's new dual-head SeaBat 7125 deep tow survey system is currently underway and Odyssey will evaluate information and data gathered from the 2014 operations,

    including these new surveys, "to determine future plans".

    With one of the largest documented cargoes of gold ever lost at sea, the SS Central America contributed to the Panic of 1857

    The Central America, carrying mainly mine workers and bosses returning east from the California gold rush was caught in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857 roughly 260 kilometres off the South

    Carolina coast.

    Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m find

    477 passengers, mostly miners and businessmen returning east from California with their personal possessions and fortunes in gold accumulated after years of prospecting during the Gold Rush were on board the steamship during her final voyage.

    Full story...

  • Odyssey Marine Exploration's on Q3 2014 Results - Earnings

    SS Central America

    From Seeking Alpha - Mark Gordon Call Transcript


    "Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today to discuss Odyssey Marine Exploration’s Third Quarter Results ended September 30, 2014. With us today are Mark Gordon, Odyssey’s Chief Executive Officer and President as well as Philip Devine, the company’s Chief Financial Officer.

    Following their remarks, we will open up call for your question. Then before we conclude today’s call I’ll provide the necessary precautions regarding forward-looking statements made by management during this call as well as a special note to U.S. investors regarding disclosure of mineral deposits as referenced in the SEC’s Industry Guide 7.

    We would like to remind everyone that this call is available for replay through December 10, 2014 starting later this evening. A webcast replay will also be available via the link provided in company’s earnings release as well as available on Odyssey’s website.

    During this call, you can also send written questions by sending them via the webcast system. We may not have time to take everyone’s questions but if you submit questions via the webcast system we will answer all remaining questions via email after the call.

    Now I’d like to turn the call over to CEO Mark Gordon. Please go ahead, sir.

    Mark Gordon - Chairman & CEO

    Well thank you, operator. Good afternoon, everyone, thank you for joining us. This is my first conference call since taking over as CEO and I want to thank all of you who have expressed their congratulations and support over the past month or so. I hit the ground running in my new position and we’ve already started implementing refinements to the business plan. We want Odyssey to be the company investors want to invest in, the place the best and the brightest want to work, and an organization our partners want to do business with.

    We understand that our shareholders and the investment community want us to maintain a business model of leveraged returns but they also want us to focus of financial discipline in our business planning to generate more cash inflows from operations and from our investments.

    To this end, we've recently implemented and improved investment analysis process which I believe will have a great impact on our business planning process. I believe that in our future filings and calls you’ll see a significant and positive transformation in our operating results.

    In the few short months since our last call, we made significant progress on our shipwreck and mineral projects. We completed the 2014 season’s recovery operations at the SS Central America shipwreck site where we recovered more than 15,500 silver and gold coins, 45 gold ingots, gold dust, nuggets, jewelry and various other artifacts.

    We installed and are currently testing a new state of the art deep ocean search systems acquired for use in our deep ocean 20th century shipwreck and mineral exploration programs"....

    Full article...


  • Shipwreck recovery off South Carolina coast is suspended

    Gold ingot

    By John McDermott - The Post and Courier


    A deep-sea salvage vessel that's been pulling up gold and other treasure from a shipwreck off South Carolina has returned to Charleston and likely won't resume work at the site until next year.

    Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said Tuesday that its Odyssey Explorer is back in port for a few weeks for repairs and to be upfitted with new equipment.

    The company said it ended its first recovery phase after retrieving more than 15,500 gold and silver coins, 45 gold bars and hundreds of nuggets, jewelry and other artifacts from the SS Central America. The value of the items was not disclosed.

    Odyssey Explorer left Charleston in April. The wreck of the SS Central America is in 7,200 feet of water about 200 miles off the coast, Odyssey Marine said.

    Mark Gordon, the Tampa-based company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement that it was "an appropriate time to suspend recovery operations to take a break for repairs and review the work we've recently completed."

    Recovery efforts were hampered in recent weeks by Hurricane Cristobal and by the time required to complete a high-resolution video survey of the wreck and surrounding area, the company said.

    Odyssey Marine said "an extensive amount of knowledge has been gained" about the site and the scope of the work required.

    "Significant sections of the ship's structure, associated cultural heritage artifacts and coins were located some distance from the main shipwreck area, requiring excavation over a large area," the company said Tuesday.

    "Sizable areas remain to be inspected and excavated outside the main shipwreck."

    Gordon said the next step is to study the data collected over the past five months.

    Full story...


  • Shipwreck of S.S. Central America yields more gold

    SS Central America

    By Karla Zabludovsky - Newsweek

    More than 2,900 gold coins and 45 gold ingots have been recovered from the shipwrecked S.S. Central America since an archaeological excavation began in mid-April, Odyssey Marine Exploration, the company contracted to dive to the site, revealed on a report published Tuesday.

    Other 19th century artifacts recovered include luggage pieces, a pistol, a pocket watch, and several daguerreotypes, an early type of photography.

    Several samples of coral and sea anemones have also been collected through a science program which is studying deep sea biological diversity.

    Pine and oak specimens placed on the seabed in 1990 and 1991, during the last known dives to the shipwreck site, are being retrieved so that scientists can study the “shipworms” consuming and destroying the ship’s timbers.

    “The insights provided by this experiment have provided valuable new information about the degradation of shipwrecks in this environment, and it greatly aids our interpretation of the conditions we are observing on this site and can expect of other shipwrecks in similar circumstances,” says one of the reports previously released by Odyssey Marine Exploration.

    The S.S. Central America sank off the Carolina coast in 1857, at the height of the California Gold Rush, when it sailed into a hurricane.

    It had departed, days earlier, from Panama, with roughly 580 passengers who were carrying with them an unknown amount of gold.

    Estimates for the total gold cargo range between three and 21 tons of gold.

    Full story...

  • Buddhists lead attempt to find Burma’s lost bell

    Searching for a lost bell

    From The Scotsman

    Divers stand on the edge of a small wooden fishing boat ­gazing at the murky, choppy waters below.

    After receiving blessings from Buddhist monks, they lower their masks and plunge one-by-one into the mighty Rangoon River, clinging to garden hoses that will act as primitive breathing devices during their dizzying descent into darkness.

    From the shoreline, thousands of spectators look on, some peering through binoculars, praying the men will find what other salvage crews have not: the world’s largest copper bell, believed to have been lying deep beneath the riverbed for more than four centuries.

    Weighing an estimated 270 tons, the mysterious bell is a symbol of pride for many in a nation of 60 million that only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule and self-imposed isolation.

    And for the first time, search crews are largely relying on spirituality rather than science to try to find it.

    Burma’s superstitious leaders have in years past been part of a colourful cast of characters who believe reclaiming the treasure is important if the nation is ever to regain its position of glory as the crown jewel of Asia.

    It is a story of myth and mystery.

    King Dhammazedi, after whom the bell was named, was said to have ordered it cast in the late 15th century, donating it soon after to the Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s most sacred temple which sits on a hilltop in the old capital, Rangoon.

    The bell remained there for more than 130 years, when it was said to have been stolen by Portuguese mercenary Philip de Brito, who wanted to take it across the river so it could be melted down and turned into cannons for his ships.

    With tremendous difficulty, his men rolled the massive bell down a hill and transferred it to a rickety vessel, which then sank under the weight.

    Most people in Burma believe the bell is still lying deep beneath the riverbed, buried under layers of silt.

    Full story...

  • Lost French fleet of 1565 remains a mystery

    Searching for the lost French fleet of 1565

    By Matt Soergel - The St Augustine Record

    On a sunny, breezy Saturday, this is an inviting place — the sea placid, the coastline green and still wild.

    But from a diving boat a half-mile offshore, Chuck Meide can easily picture the desperate straits of the men of Jean Ribault’s doomed French fleet, fighting for their lives on perhaps this very spot, 449 years ago.

    Their struggle as a hurricane drove their ships unmercifully toward the land. Their fear as the ships broke up, throwing the sailors into the stormy seas, clinging to any bit of wreckage they could find. Their relief at making it to the sand.

    Their awful knowledge that they were stranded here, on the low coastline of a vast mysterious land, thousands of miles from home.

    And their certainty that their enemy — men sworn to kill them — was still out there, still looking for them.

    The French, who were trying to defend a colony in what is now Jacksonville, left signs of their presence at Canaveral: tools, jewelry and coins have been found at a survivors’ camp on the beach.

    Where, though, are their four ships ?

    After three weeks of searching the ocean floor, an expedition from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is no closer to finding out.

    Meide, the principal investigator on the group, spent most of those weeks on the water, looking during the day and sleeping fitfully on the cramped vessel — “It’s no Carnival cruise,” he said — at night.

    He was philosophical about it as the group wrapped up its search.

    “It’s a big ocean,” he said.

    Ribault’s fleet came to Florida in 1565 to support the struggling French colony at Fort Caroline. The Spanish, under Pedro Menendez de Aviles, arrived about the same time, with plans to wipe out the French.

    Full story...

  • Diver pinpoints Medieval shipwreck site found at Isles of Scilly

    Medieval shipwreck off the Isles of Scilly

    From Western Morning News

    Fragments of a ship believed to be one of the first ever documented to have fallen victim to the notorious rocks of the Isles of Scilly more than 700 years ago have been located.

    Diver and historian Todd Stevens, who has an impressive pedigree as a latter day underwater treasure hunter, has this summer located two potential archeological sites in the waters around his home on the islands.

    In one, he found pottery which he believes could have come from a ship which sank in 1305 - the only Medieval vessel which has been documented as lost at Scilly and possibly its oldest shipwreck site.

    Meanwhile on the second he found a bottle dated around 1780 to 1820 and remains of a cargo which he believes may have originated just 28 miles away in Penzance.

    Mr Stevens said they were exciting finds.

    “It is certainly one of the oldest sites at Scilly and could possibly be the oldest,” he said.

    “I have been working at these sites all season. It’s about following a trail which leads to a discovery.”

    The finds, which have been declared to the Receiver of Wrecks, who administers marine salvage, were located around Nut Rock, near to the inhabited island of Tresco.

    Mr Stevens said he found some items of pottery and lifted them from the site before suspecting there was actually a wreck in the area.

    However, after finding even more items, he realised he had stumbled across a wreck site.

    Full story...

  • Family finds 300-year-old sunken treasure off Florida's east coast

    A high karat gold Pyx which was believed to have been hand crafted in the late 1600's

    From The Telegraph

    A Florida family scavenging for sunken treasure on a shipwreck has found the missing piece of a 300-year-old gold filigree necklace sacred to Spanish priests.

    Eric Schmitt, a professional salvager, was scavenging with his parents when he found the crumpled, square-shaped ornament on a leisure trip to hunt for artifacts in the wreckage of a convoy of 11 ships that sank in 1715 during a hurricane off central Florida's east coast.

    After the discovery last month, a team of Spanish historians realized the piece fit together with another artifact recovered 25 years ago.

    It formed an accessory called a pyx, worn on a chain around a high priest's neck to carry the communion host. The dollar value is uncertain.

    "It's priceless, unique, one of a kind," said Brent Brisben, operations manager for Queens Jewels, which owns rights to the wreckage, located in 15-foot deep Atlantic Ocean waters.

    Mr Schmitt, who lives near Orlando, last year discovered about $300,000 worth of gold coins and chains from the same wreckage, Brisben said. Schmitt's parents have hunted for sunken treasure as a hobby for a decade.

    By law, the treasure will be placed into the custody of the US District Court in South Florida, Brisben said. The state of Florida may take possession of up to 20 percent of the find.

    The rest will be split evenly between Brisben's company and the Schmitt family.

  • 43 gold bars, 1,300 double eagle coins and thousands of pieces of silver

    SS Central America

    From Daily Mail

    Deep-sea explorers have recovered thousands of gold and silver coins and more than 40 heavy gold bars easily worth millions of dollars, along with a slew of personal items that are a virtual time capsule of the California Gold Rush in a 150-year-old shipwreck.

    Newly unsealed court documents provide the first detailed inventory of a treasure trove being resurrected from an 1857 shipwreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

    The operation is being directed by a court-appointed receiver of an Ohio company, led by a treasure hunter and dreamer named Tommy Thompson, that first found the Central America in 1988 in what was then a monumental achievement that was funded by a group of central Ohio investors.

    Immediately after finding the ship and recovering a fraction of its garden of gold, Thompson became embroiled in a decades-long legal battle over who had rights to the treasure and how it was being dispersed.

    None of the investors ever saw a return, and in August 2012 after failing to show up for several court hearings, a warrant was issued for Thompson's arrest. He has been a federal fugitive ever since.

    Meanwhile, the Central America and its gold sat untouched since 1991, the last time Thompson and his team were at the site.

    The new recovery operation was made possible after an Ohio court appointed a receiver over some of Thompson's companies, and he awarded a contract to conduct the efforts to Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration.

    The inventories, unsealed by a federal judge in Virginia late Wednesday, show that Odyssey Marine has brought up 43 solid gold bars, 1,300 $20 double eagle gold coins, and thousands more gold and silver coins.

    Full story...

  • Is treasure hunting the world's worst investment ?

    Treasure hunting ?

    By Peter B. Campbell & Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz - Bloomberg


    Dreams of undersea riches make treasure hunting a seductive investment. As professional underwater archaeologists, we don’t normally comment on the commercial salvage of historical shipwrecks.

    But in this case, our expert opinion is: Don’t waste your money.

    The fact is, no major treasure-hunting venture has ever been profitable for investors, according to a series of academic studies. And from an archaeological point of view, there are compelling scientific and legal reasons that investments in treasure hunting won’t pay off.

    Treasure hunting has recently been in the news. On Monday, Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said that it had recovered gold from the sunken ship SS Central America, with estimates that there may be as much as $86 million in precious metal at the wreck site off the coast of South Carolina.

    Investors are typically drawn to salvage ventures by these kinds of estimates. However, analysis of eventual sales of the recovered artifacts shows the projections are always inflated and never realized.

    When Mel Fisher found the wreck of the Atocha, a 17th-century Spanish galleon that sank off the Florida Keys, he estimated that the cargo was worth $400 million.

    Sales of recovered artifacts suggest a value of $13 million to $24 million, or no more than 6 percent of the original estimate. Over the years, Odyssey has projected a total of $3 billion for its various projects, but to date it has recovered only 2 percent of that amount.

    High operating expenses ultimately make treasure hunting unprofitable. Of the six largest salvage projects, all but the Atocha definitively lost money despite multimillion-dollar cargoes, according to a 2013 report.

    (It is debatable whether the Atocha venture was actually profitable and the data haven't been disclosed.)

    Shares of the eight public treasure-hunting companies trade at pennies, except for Odyssey.

    The news media often touts billion-dollar figures when a new wreck is found. Records of what was actually on the ships often directly contradict the inflated estimates.

    Full article...

  • Gold recovered from shipwreck in Atlantic Ocean

    SS Central America

    By Liezel Hill - WAtoday

    A marine salvager specialising in extracting cargoes from sunken ships has recovered its first gold from a 19th-century vessel lying more than a kilometre beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered almost 1000 ounces (28 kilograms) on April 15 during its first reconnaissance dive to the wreck of the SS Central America.

    The precious metal included five gold ingots and two $US20 Double Eagle coins, the Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey said on Monday.

    "Gold ingots and other artefacts were clearly visible on the surface of the site during the dive and no excavation was required for their removal," it said.

    The Central America, a sidewheel steamer, sank in 1857, more than 250 kilometres off the coast of South Carolina, with the loss of 425 lives.

    Previous recovery efforts in 1989 through to 1991 netted more than two tonnes of gold. Odyssey has said that, based on certain assumptions, including that the remaining items are in the form of Double Eagle coins, there may still be $US 86 million ($ 92 million) of gold at the site.

    Full story...

  • Expedition seeks $86 million in gold in 1857 shipwreck

    Odyssey Marine

    By Liezell Hill - Star Tribune

    Treasure-hunter Bob Evans has spent half his life dreaming about the SS Central America, a pre-Civil War steamship decaying in the lightless depths off South Carolina. Now he’s returning to the shipwreck after 23 years.

    Evans set out this week with deep-ocean explorer Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. to revisit the remains of the 19th-century side-wheel steamer, which sank in 1857 with the loss of 425 lives and an undetermined amount of gold.

    Despite recovery efforts in 1989 through 1991 that netted more than two tons of gold, Odyssey says there may still be $86 million of gold lying more than a mile deep.

    “This is the greatest lost treasure in United States history,” said Evans, who was chief scientist on earlier expeditions.

    Even with the plunge in gold prices last year, the metal is still worth more than triple its price in the early 1990s, when previous recovery efforts were suspended because of legal battles over rights to the treasure. And the rare coins that have been found at the site are selling for much more than their weight in gold.

    For Odyssey, the shipwreck is another chance to show the potential gains from deep-sea salvaging. While the Tampa-based company has recovered tons of treasure in past projects, it has failed at others.

    Odyssey is a “very atypical company in an atypical industry,” said Mark Argento, an analyst at Lake Street Capital Markets in Minneapolis. “It’s more like a biotech company: Not every biotech company gets every drug approved.”

    Odyssey is undeterred. “Our research department and the court-appointed experts all believe there is enough gold remaining at the SS Central America to warrant the expense of conducting an expedition,” Odyssey President Mark Gordon said.

    Full story...

  • Six bronze idols discovered underwater in Velankanni

    Bronze idolds found

    From The Hindu

    Six bronze idols were found under water here in Kaduvayar in Mahadanam panchayat in Velankanni on Friday.

    The idols along with two boxes made of iron were found underwater in Kalasambadi village by two inland fisherwomen on Friday evening.

    The two women, were fishing, when they hit upon the box consisting of two idols of Lakshmi of 1.5 ft height each; one idol of Vilakku Nachiyar of 3.5 ft height, and one idol each of Saraswathi, Vinayagar, and Chadrashekar, of varying heights of 1.5 feet to 2 feet.

    Alongside the idols, two boxes made of iron were also found. However, the purpose of the boxes was yet to be gauged.

    The undated idols were handed over to the Tahsildar of Nagapattinam.


  • Odyssey Marine to recover gold from Carolina shipwreck

    The Central America

    By Amanda Lee Myers - Tampa Tribune

    A Tampa company has reached an agreement to recover the remaining gold from a ship that sank off the Carolina coast in 1857 and more recently has been embroiled in legal fights involving a fugitive treasure hunter, the firm announced today.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration can begin working to recover gold bars and coins from the SS Central America as soon as April, pending approval of the agreement from an Ohio judge.

    In 1988, shipwreck enthusiast and Ohio native Tommy Thompson led an expedition that found the vessel, also known as the Ship of Gold. He took gold from the ship that later sold for between $50 million and $60 million.

    The treasure became the subject of various lawsuits involving a group of Ohio investors who paid $12.7 million to fund Thompson’s expedition but say they never saw any returns and workers who said they weren’t properly paid for signing confidentiality agreements to keep the ship’s location and other information secret.

    Thompson, described as a secretive Howard Hughes-like figure by an attorney on one of the cases, has been a wanted fugitive since August 2012 after he failed to show up for a key court hearing. He was last seen at a mansion he was renting in Vero Beach along Florida’s Treasure Coast.

    Liz Shows, a spokeswoman for Odyssey Marine, declined to say how much gold is believed remaining on the ship.

    Ira Kane, who was appointed receiver over Thompson’s companies after he fled, is overseeing the project to recover the remaining gold and has exclusive salvage rights over the shipwreck, granted to him by a federal court judge in Virginia.

    Kane chose Odyssey Marine for the salvage operation after considering proposals from nine companies, the Florida firm said in a news release.

    “We’re now looking forward to their team completing the work that was started more than 25 years ago,” Kane said in the news release.

    The S.S. Central America was in operation for four years during the California gold rush before it sank after sailing directly into a hurricane in September 1857; 425 people were killed and thousands of pounds of gold sank with it to the bottom of the ocean.

  • US treasure hunters ready to snatch gold from the jaws of Victory

    The 42-pounder bronze cannon recovered from the shipwreck site of HMS Victory in the English Channel in 2008 is lowered onto the deck of the Odyssey Explorer

    By Victoria Ward - The Telegraph

    US treasure hunters should be banned from raising the wreck of one of Britain’s greatest warships and taking some of the millions of pounds of gold coins she is believed to contain, leading archaeologists and descendants of the crew demand today.

    They said that allowing HMS Victory, predecessor to Nelson’s flagship, to be exploited for commercial gain would be a “flagrant breach” of the military covenant and an “appalling betrayal” of more than 1,000 Royal Navy sailors who died.

    The wreck was discovered by the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration in 2008, 264 years after it sank in a storm off the Channel Islands. Experts believe it may contain gold worth hundreds of millions of pounds as well as 100 bronze cannon.

    The Ministry of Defence concluded that recovery could go ahead under the auspices of a charity. Lord Lingfield, formerly Sir Robert Balchin , a descendant of Admiral Sir John Balchen , the ship’s commander, founded the Maritime Heritage Foundation for the purpose.

    The foundation has submitted its plans to the MoD and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and signed a contract with Odyssey which would give the Florida-based firm 80 per cent of the value of coins and bullion recovered and 50 per cent of the value of cultural artefacts.

    The Government is expected to make an announcement soon on whether it will sanction the proposals. No work can go ahead without the approval of Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, but the plans are fraught with controversy.

    Full story...

  • Duke of Argyll’s divers will search for Spanish gold in sunken galleon

    A mission has been launched to recover the treasure of a Spanish galleon

    By David Scott - Scotish Express

    Divers will next week begin to sift through the silt of Tobermory Bay in an attempt to find the £30million cargo, reputed to have been funding for the ill-fated Spanish invasion of England in 1588.

    It is the fourth time that Sir Torquhil Ian Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll, has mounted a search for the battle-scarred treasure ship.

    His family was given the rights to the wreck by Charles I, and has made 60 attempts to retrieve the lost fortune over the centuries.

    Following the armada’s defeat at the hands of Sir Francis Drake, many Spanish ships fled north, only to become caught up in violent storms.

    Exactly how the Almirante di Florencia or the San Juan de Sicilia – the vessel’s exact identity has never been established – foundered in Tobermory Bay is unknown.

    Legend has it that the ship was blown up after the Spaniards stocked up for their onward journey and tried to leave on November 5, 1588, without paying for their supplies. 

    It is said Donald Maclean of Duart boarded it and ignited its powder magazine, sending 350 Spaniards and the bullion to the bottom of the sea.

    The latest two-month search for the treasure ship will be undertaken by a 10 strong team from The Poop Company in Somerset.

    Full story...

  • Gold making people crazy in search for sunken treasure

    Gold pieces from shipwrecks are displayed at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, on Aug. 2, 2013

    By Vernon Silver - Bloomberg

    Captain Robert Mayne stands at the wheel as he guides the steel-hulled Aqua Quest from the docks in the Florida Keys, pointing the vessel toward what he’s been assured is a gold-laden shipwreck that may be worth tens of millions of dollars.

    Mayne, 60, says experience has taught him such gold hunts can be perilous: inspiring obsession, sending treasure hunters on endless journeys and blinding them to reason.

    “Gold makes people crazy,” says Mayne, who in his youth smuggled marijuana, and now has neatly combed, greying hair. “They become lost in their dream.”

    Even he finds the pull irresistible. Investors who hold rights to the site southwest of Key West say it may be the resting place of a galleon sunk by a 1622 hurricane.

    Mayne has agreed to cover the cost of the excursion in exchange for half of any treasure.

    Gold’s draw is a powerful one that drives both dreams and financial markets. It helped create a bubble in global gold prices, which gained more than sevenfold over a 12-year period. After peaking at $1,921.15 an ounce in September 2011, gold fell to as little as $1,180.50 in June.

    It closed at $1,281.83 on Nov. 13.

    The drop is battering fortunes, from individuals who bought coins through TV offers to billionaires who bet wrong. The gold fund of John Paulson, the New York hedge fund manager, declined 62 percent this year through September.

    Yet for treasure hunters, the recent drop hardly makes a dent in their ambitions. Gold prices are still higher than when they began their quests, years or decades ago.

    Full article...

  • Divers find huge trove of sunken treasure off the Dominican coast

    Shipwreck treasures

    From Fox News Latino

    In the briny waters off the Dominican Republic, a Florida-based treasure hunting firm discovered the remains of a 450-year sunken ship with the largest cache of 16th century pewter tableware ever discovered, extremely rare Spanish silver coins from the late 1400s through the mid 1500s and several gold artifacts.

    Divers from Anchor Research and Salvage working with the Punta Cana Foundation excavated the wreck site under contract with the Underwater Cultural Heritage division of the Dominican Minister of Culture.

    It is one of a number of dive sites the Florida company has been working on in Dominican waters.

    While it's possible to determine the price of the gold and silver found, the pewter – which includes plates, platters, porringers, salts and flagons – is going to take longer to nail down.

    It could go well into the millions, experts say.

    Shipwreck archaeologists estimate that there are several billion dollars of submerged treasures in the southern coastal area alone, and possibly 10 times that amount waiting in Anchor Research and Salvage target areas.

    "Sample artifacts from these newly discovered wreck sites indicate that we may have found an entire fleet of early Galleons that wrecked on their way back to Spain carrying the riches of the new world,” said Robert Pritchett, the CEO of Global Marine Exploration, Inc., the parent company of Anchor Research and Salvage.

    Full story...

  • Divers find unexpected treasures in shipwreck off Dominican Republic


    From E Turbo News

    A Florida based treasure hunting firm has discovered a 450-year-old ship that wrecked off the Dominican coast.

    Among its valuable cargo -- the single largest cache of 16th century pewter tableware ever discovered.

    The ship was also carrying extremely rare Spanish silver coins from the late 1400's through the mid 1500's and several gold artifacts.

    This unprecedented find of 16th century pewter will re-write history books, as many of the maker's marks stamped into the fine pewter have never been seen before.

    While the value of the gold and silver recovered is easily determined, surprisingly, experts place the value of this four and a half century old pewter collection into the millions. The collection includes plates, platters, porringers, salts and flagons in an array of sizes and styles.

    Divers from Anchor Research and Salvage (a Global Marine Exploration, Inc. company) working with the Punta Cana Foundation painstakingly excavated the wreck site under contract with the Underwater Cultural Heritage division of the Dominican Minister of Culture.

    Full story...

  • Gold Spanish shipwreck treasure found

    Treasure found

    By Meredith Bennett-Smith - The Huffington Post

    A Florida family with decades of experience in searching for treasure recently hit it big, discovering a treasure trove of Spanish coins and chains worth more than $300,000.

    The impressive haul was recovered Sept. 1 by Rick Schmitt's Booty Salvage treasure-hunting company about 150 yards off the coast of Fort Pierce, Fla., according to the Orlando Sentinel.

    Schmitt's family, together with friend Dale Zeak, pulled up between 60 and 70 feet of 18th-century gold chains, several gold coins from Peru and a ring initially valued between $300,000 and $350,000, according to local station WPTV.

    "It was a lot of emotion," treasure hunter Eric Schmitt told WPTV.

    "At first was excitement followed by a lot of, almost crying. It's amazing."

    Brent Brisben is the co-founder of 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC, the company that owns the rights to the area where Booty Salvage found the treasure.

    "To be the first person to touch an artifact in 300 years, is indescribable," Brisben told the Sentinel.

    "They were there 150 years before the Civil War. It's truly remarkable to be able to bring that back."

    The treasure is believed to have been lost after a Spanish fleet was shipwrecked in a storm on July 30, 1715, according to the Sentinel. Hundreds of people were killed in the storm that gave the area the nickname "Treasure Coast."

    Full story...

  • The £1m of treasure lying undiscovered

    Royal Charter

    From Wales Online

    Treasure worth £1m remains undiscovered in a shipwreck off the Welsh coast, an explorer claims.

    The Royal Charter was on the final leg of her voyage from Australia to Britain when she was smashed to pieces by one of the biggest storms ever to hit Britain off the coast of Anglesey on October 25, 1859.

    The ship was carrying hundreds of passengers and crew and a fortune from Australian gold fields.

    The death toll of 497 is the highest of any shipwreck on the Welsh coast and was written about by Charles Dickens.

    Treasure hunter Vincent Thurkettle, a full-time gold-panner who is leading the exploration of the wreck, admits it's increasingly difficult to find anything of value amongst the remains – but said there’s likely to still be £1m of gold on the sea bed.

    “She was probably carrying well over £100m in gold – at least £80m in cargo plus the passengers' personal belongings – and even if 99% has been recovered now that still leaves at least £1m undiscovered,” said Vincent, whose exploration is being filmed for S4C series Trysor Coll y Royal Charter (Lost Treasure of the Royal Charter).

    Vincent said: "The debris scattered on the seabed includes everything from broken plates to dress-making pins and coal. The last of the gold may never be found.”

    Vincent has uncovered relics which would have been very dear to some of the ship's passengers, including a small, beautifully crafted ring of gold, opal and diamonds and a snuff box engraved with the name Edward Bennett.

    Vincent said: “£1m is roughly 1% of the money that sunk with the ship.

    Full story...

  • A £23m payday: U.S. company recovers 48 tons of silver

    Silver ingots

    By Daniel Miller - Mail Online

    A US deep-sea exploration company says it has recovered about 48 tons of silver from a British cargo ship that was sunk by a torpedo during World War II.

    The haul comes from the SS Gairsoppa, which was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat about 300 miles off Ireland's coast in 1941. It now sits 15,420ft deep.

    Salvage firm Odyssey Marine Exploration said it is the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck ever made.

    So far, workers have brought up more than 1,200 silver bars, or about 1.4 million troy ounces, worth about £23.7 million (about $37 million). 

    The company is under contract with the British Government and will get to keep 80 per cent of the haul after expenses. The remaining 20 per cent will go to the Treasury.

    SS Gairsoppa was steaming home from India in 1941 while in the service of the Ministry of War Transport when she was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat.

    She sank in British waters about 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland. Only one of her 84 crew members survived.

    The 412-ft steamship has remained sitting upright on the seabed with its holds open, nearly three miles under water.

    The ship, recognisable by the red-and-black paintwork of the British-India Steam Navigation Company and the torpedo hole in its side, was sailing in a convoy from Calcutta in 1941.

    Buffeted by high winds and running low on coal, the captain decided he would not make it to Liverpool and broke from the convoy to head for Galway.

    A single torpedo from U-101 sank her in 20 minutes, on February 17, 1941.

    Three lifeboats were launched, but only Second Officer Richard Ayres made it to land, reaching the Cornish coast after 13 days.

    Full article and photos...

  • Gold ! $250K in centuries-old coins found

    By Leslie Holland - CNN

    "Constantly searching for a needle in a haystack" is what Brent Brisben says he does for a living, and on days like Saturday, the payoff makes the work worthwhile.

    Brisben owns the 1715 Treasure Fleet Queen's Jewels salvage company.

    This weekend, he and his crew of three found quite a few "needles" in their oceanic "haystack" -- 48 gold coins that date back 300 years, to be exact.

    The coins, called escudos, were part of the treasure aboard a fleet of 11 Spanish galleons wrecked by a hurricane off the Florida coast on July 31, 1715. It was this famous shipwreck that gave this part of Florida its nickname, The Treasure Coast.

    The coins appear to be in good condition, and still have some legible dates and markings. The oldest bears the date 1697; the youngest is dated 1714.

    The 48 coins have an estimated value of $200,000 to $250,000, said Brisben.

    Perhaps the most surprising thing about the expedition is that the coins were found just 100 feet from the shoreline, in only six feet of water.

    Fulll article...

  • Innocap Inc. set to begin shipwreck recovery efforts

    Chinese treasures 
    From Innocap

    From The Street

    Innocap, Inc. (or "Innocap") has received an agreement with a company based in the Republic of the Philippines under which Innocap agrees to organize, plan and supervise then will begin recovery efforts of a shipwreck located off the coast of the Philippines.

    The ship, based on preliminary studies, appears to contain a cargo of Chinese porcelain made during the Ming Dynasty. Efforts will be made by Innocap to further identify and evaluate the best method of recovery, which includes conservation and archeological study of the pieces when made available.

    Under the agreement, the Philippine company is responsible for obtaining all necessary Government and other approvals, permits and licenses.

    The preliminary recovery efforts will begin when all required permits and licenses are obtained.

    Under the terms of the agreement, Innocap will be entitled to 50% of any cargo that is recovered from the salvage.

    Although many ships from the Ming Dynasty era contained cargoes worth millions of dollars by today's standards, there is no way at this time to estimate the value of the cargo on this sunken ship.

    Full article...

  • Remote Michigan village abuzz over shipwreck search

    In this October 2012 image from video provided by David J. Ruck, diver Tom Kucharsky passes timbers protruding from the bottom of Lake Michigan that were discovered by Steve Libert, head of Great Lakes Exploration Group, in 2001
    Photo David J. Ruck

    By John Flesher - Detroit Free Press

    Commercial fisherman Larry Barbeau’s comings and goings usually don’t create much of a stir in this wind-swept Lake Michigan outpost, but in the past few days, his phone jangles the minute he arrives home.

    Barbeau’s 46-foot boat is the offshore nerve center for an expedition seeking the underwater grave of the Griffin, the first ship of European design to traverse the upper Great Lakes.

    Built on orders of legendary French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier de la Salle, it ventured from Niagara Falls to Lake Michigan’s Green Bay but disappeared during its return in 1679.

    Divers this weekend opened a pit at the base of a wooden beam that juts nearly 11 feet from the lake bottom, believing it could be a section of the vessel, the rest presumably entombed in mud.

    They picked up the pace Monday with more powerful equipment after a weekend of probing showed that whatever is buried is deeper than sonar readings indicated.

    U.S. and French experts insist it is too early to say whether there’s a shipwreck — let alone the Griffin. But anticipation is building at the prospect of solving a maritime puzzle that’s more than three centuries old.

    “After we get done for the day, everybody calls or comes to the house and they’re like, ‘What did you find ? What did you see ?

    Can you tell me anything ?’ “ Barbeau said in a Sunday interview aboard his ship, the Viking, which holds crucial expedition equipment, including “umbilical” cables that supply oxygen to divers. “People are really interested and they’re excited to see what it is.”

    Full article...

  • La Salle's long-lost ship ?

    The Grifin ? 
    Photo David J. Ruck

    By John Flesher - Philly

    As a teenager, Steve Libert was mesmerized by a teacher's stories of the brash 17th-century French explorer La Salle, who journeyed across the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi in a quest for a trade route to the Far East that he hoped would bring riches and renown.

    Particularly intriguing was the tale of the Griffin, a vessel that La Salle built and sailed from Niagara Falls to the shores of present-day Wisconsin before sending it back for more supplies.

    It departed with a crew of six and a cargo of furs in September 1679 - and was never seen again.

    Although widely considered the first wreck of a European-type ship in the upper Great Lakes, its fate has never been documented nor its gravesite found.

    After nearly three decades of research, dives, and tussles, Libert believes he's about to solve the mystery.

    He was to lead a diving expedition over the weekend to an underwater site in northern Lake Michigan, where archaeologists and technicians were to try to determine whether a timber jutting from the bottom and other items beneath layers of sediment were what remained of the legendary Griffin.

    "I'm numb from the excitement," said Libert, 59, a burly ex-football playe.

    The just-retired intelligence analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense has a passion for maritime mysteries and has journeyed from Okinawa to the Florida Keys for diving expeditions.

    A biography posted on his website says he's advised searches for the Titanic, five Navy torpedo bombers lost in the Bermuda Triangle during World War II, and John Paul Jones' warship Bon Homme Richard, among others.

    Full story...

  • 19th-century steamer found could be filled with gold


    By Effie Orfanides - Examiner

    A shipwreck could possibly have gold concealed under the sea. On June 5, NBC News reported that U.S. explorers found the wreck of a smuggling ship off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend.

    Many believe that the ship carried gold and that the gold could be lying at the bottom of the ocean as you read.

    "We have positively identified the vessel through the engine type, length, width, type of decking and other construction features, as well as its location, which matches perfectly with historical accounts," Dr. E. Lee Spence told Discovery News (via NBC News).

    The shipwreck could turn up gold because the ship was known for "extensive gun and money smuggling to Haiti."

    In the 1890's the ship sank after running into sandbars near Cape Romain.

    The ship was soon forgotten and not discovered until the late 70's. Even then the vessel was not identified and no one thought much of it.

    Now, however, researchers believe the identity of the boat is the SS Ozama and many are curious to see what is lying around the wreckage.

    "Whatever is still there, we have good reason to believe at least some of it will be intact, as I have already brought up some unbroken china," Spence said.

    If the shipwreck turns up any gold it may have to be turned in to the U.S. government. Even still this is an amazing find and Spence hopes to figure out the best way of diving in so to speak.

  • Spain's collapse of colonial power seen through prism of sunk galleon

    UW treasures

    By Fiona Govan - The Telegraph

    Almost four hundred years after its treasures were lost to the deep during a hurricane, the underwater exploration of a Spanish galleon has helped shed light on Spain's collapse as a colonial power.

    Using a deep sea probe named Merlin, marine archaeologists discovered the bounty lost when a flotilla of merchant ships went down 400 miles off the Florida Keys killing some 500 on board including 121 missionaries.

    The findings revealed today include 39 gold bars and 1,184 silver pieces of eight that were retrieved from the ocean floor by deep sea archaeologists, Odyssey Marine Exploration.

    The Tampa-based company believe they located the wreck of the 117-ton merchant galleon Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario, one of 28 vessels sailing from the colony of Cumana, in what is now Venezuela, for Spain when it was hit by a hurricane.

    Experts believe that the loss of the treasures helped break the Bank of Madrid, already weakened by a series of expensive wars and rising inflation.

    "It is the most important Spanish galleon to be found because of what its loss meant," Sean Kingsley, a British archaeologist who has been studying the remains since 2005, told The Times.

    Full article...

  • Treasure hunter searches for long-lost Spanish galleon in Nassau Sound

    First mate Keith Sonnemann (left) and Doug Pope stand on the deck of the Polly-L. The research vessel is having work done in dry-dock in Green Cove Springs.  Read more at

    By Drew Dixon - The Florida Times Union

    Nassau Sound is known for its tricky waters to navigate, shark infestations and a remote, narrow pass where the Nassau River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

    Doug Pope also sees the sound as a possible site of treasure from the long-lost Spanish galleon San Miguel that wrecked in 1715.

    Pope is president of Amelia Research & Recovery LLC, based in Fernandina Beach, and his quest to find the San Miguel’s loot is the basis of his business.

    Pope said the find of a jeweler’s furnace in 1993 near Amelia Island is believed to be from the ship that was part of a fleet of about a dozen that went down during a hurricane nearly 300 years ago.

    The treasure salvaging season for Pope commences in about two weeks, when area waters are most calm.

    Curious Britannia, a historical research organization in the United Kingdom, estimates the lost San Miguel treasure with gold and silver bars along with coins, jewels and other valuables to have a value of up to $2 billion.

    The organization’s website, named the San Miguel as potentially one of the most valuable shipwrecks that has yet to be recovered.

    “You got to be excited. There’s a lot of anticipation this year,” Pope said last week. “We’ve got a little more research leaning toward where the San Miguel is and the value of it.”

    Full article...

  • American group sues Colombia for human rights violations

    Galleon San José

    From Sea Search Armada

    In a case filed March 29 with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a group of American investors claim the government of Colombia has violated their human rights by preventing them from salvaging their jointly owned property, a Spanish galleon sunk in 800 feet of water near Cartagena, Colombia.

    The investment group, named Sea Search Armada (SSA), brought the suit after more than 20 years of various legal efforts to affirm SSA’s initial agreement with Colombia.

    Jack Harbeston, SSA managing director since 1988, said that “Colombian courts have invariably ruled in favor of SSA (Constitutional Court, Administrative Court and Civil Court, including the Supreme Court) for more than 20 years.

    “However, the Presidents of Colombia have bitterly refused to implement the court rulings,” he said.  “In a true demonstration of hostility, they have threatened SSA with military force if it tried to salvage this galleon.

    This is in spite of the ruling by the Colombian Supreme Court that we own 50% of the ship wreck and Colombian law that says we should have free access to it.  Such denial of access is detailed as a human rights violation to IACHR in SSA’s petition.”

    Initially the U.S. group partnered with Colombia in a search for the San Jose, a Spanish ship laden with treasure which was sunk by British war ships in 1708 as it sailed from Portobello, Panama, toward Cartagena.

    Spain and France were at war against England, Holland and other European nations, and the treasure on board, including two tons of platinum as well as gold from Peru, was intended to help Spanish ally Louis XIV of France pay for the war.

    In 1979 SSA signed a search license agreement with the Colombian government that they would each own 50% of any shipwrecks found and SSA would have preferential rights to salvage its finds. 

    SSA funded the search with an initial $10 million investment in hopes of finding the San Jose, often called the “Holy Grail of shipwrecks.

    After three years of archival research in Europe and an extensive deep water search financed exclusively by the Americans, SSA found what they believe to be the San Jose and, as part of their agreement, officially notified Colombia they had located the galleon. 

    At that time, the ship’s value was estimated to be between $3 billion and $10 billion. Recent estimates of value exceed $17 billion.

    Immediately after being advised of the ship’s location, the government of Colombia (GOC) changed the rules of its agreement with SSA.  It issued edicts and laws rescinding SSA’s 50% share while offering instead a five percent finder’s fee. 

    This was accompanied by a threat to cancel the agreement completely if SSA complained.

    SSA’s preferential right to salvage was also ignored. The GOC negotiated a contract with a third party who later admitted to paying “commissions” to high level government officials. 

    A major scandal erupted when the Colombian Senate learned of secret meetings between representatives of the firm selected to salvage SSA’s property and the President of Colombia and his immediate staff.   In the glare of the scandal, that particular attempt to take all of the San Jose without payment unraveled.

    However, the individual involved in that effort was appointed by President Uribe as an official on the Antiquities Commission.  The Commission has again introduced legislation aimed at taking the San Jose without compensating SSA as required by Colombian law.

    In January 1989, following five years of rebuffed SSA attempts to settle with the GOC, the Americans filed suit in the 10th Civil Circuit Court in Barranquilla, Colombia.  In the years that followed, a succession of five Colombian presidents personally represented Colombia’s interests in Colombian courts—and lost in each instance.

    SSA’s Jack Harbeston said, “During 20 years of litigation, Colombia’s courts at every level and in every case ruled that SSA actions were consistent with the law, while the GOC actions were not. Colombian citizens can be proud of their courts, which were not only wise but courageous. 

    In one instance, a court went so far as to officially reprimand the office of the president for attempting to coerce a ruling from the judges that would uphold the GOC’s illegal actions.”

    By 2010 SSA had won all of its court cases in Colombia, but Presidents Uribe and Santos insisted they would not implement the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court, and if SSA tried to implement the law on its own, the Colombian armed forces would prevent it from doing so.

    With no wish to confront the GOC's armed forces, the only recourse remaining for SSA was to seek damages in U.S. courts for the losses incurred as a result of GOC illegal actions.

    In December 2010 SSA filed a law suit in U.S. District Court to recover the funds it had lost because of the GOC’s intransigence.

    A year later the District Court dismissed the case on the grounds that too much time had passed between the GOC's illegal acts and SSA's filing of the lawsuit in the U.S. Then, on April 8, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the District Court dismissal. Immediately, the GOC heralded the District Court dismissal as a reversal of the Colombia Supreme Court decision, and that SSA had been stripped of its property rights by the U.S. District Court.

    James DelSordo, SSA’s legal counsel in the case, said, “Nothing could be further from the truth. The outcome of this U.S. lawsuit in no way changes the rulings of Colombia’s Supreme Court, or SSA’s ownership of property and its preferential right to salvage what it found.

    The legal views circulated by the GOC are simply inconsistent with the facts."

    In the meantime, Colombian officials are attempting to circumvent their legal system through their legislative system.  Harbeston said, “The leaders of this latest predatory attempt to take the San Jose are the same corrupt officials who in years past attempted to take SSA’s property by government fiat.  This time they are conspiring to pass a law designed solely to take over the San Jose

    Bill 125 now being debated in Colombia’s Congress really should be entitled “A License to Steal from American Investors.” 

    The bill has been before the Congress for more than a year.

    Among the bill’s opponents are a group of legislators who want to keep the San Jose entirely, not to benefit them financially but because they view it as Colombia’s patrimony. 

    Harbeston says he does not oppose Colombia keeping the whole ship, commenting, “If they want to keep the San Jose entirely as patrimony, I understand and appreciate their position and would welcome discussions with them that would lead to a fair and reasonable settlement for SSA’s property.

    He added, “SSA cannot legally deny them the legal process of eminent domain, whereby the government may take possession of private property.  The corollary for that law is that government must pay full market value for what it takes.

    “In fact,” he continued, “this is the basis for all of SSA’s legal efforts, first with the GOC, then with the U.S. court system and now with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: that certain GOC officials want to take our share of the San Jose and not pay for it.

    Other legal actions are being considered.  Aside from a false offer in 1984 that was almost immediately withdrawn, the GOC has never made an offer of any kind, express or implied.   It just keeps trying to take our property without paying for it, the most recent example being Bill 125.

    The IACHR must first decide if the SSA petition is admissible and qualifies under its rules as violations of human rights.  Once approved, a more detailed legal process will ensue.  The Commission is a judicial agency of the Organization of American States (OAS). 

    In filing the petition, Harbeston said, “SSA hopes to bring global attention to the GOC’s dishonest officials who willfully refuse to be ruled by their own laws.

  • Treasure hunters battle over a trove of emeralds

    Treasure hunters battle over a trove of emeralds

    By Kyle Swenson - Miami New Times

    When Jay Miscovich stepped off Duval Street into the Bull & Whistle bar in January 2010, Key West was shivering through a cold spell, the thermometer parked at a rare 70 degrees.

    A bearish guy in his 50s with a beach-ball gut and an ever-present baseball cap pulled over his bald head, he crossed the stone floor, extending a hand to an old acquaintance.

    The room was nearly empty. Afternoon shadows mossed the high ceilings. Steer horns poked from the corners.

    The walls surrounding the U-shaped bar were splashed with fading murals of Florida legends, yellowed like old photos: a beer-bloated Hemingway; railroad baron Henry Flagler; and next to a pair of regal galleons, Mel Fisher, the famous treasure hunter.

    Even though Miscovich hadn't seen him in over a decade, Mike Cunningham looked the same. A drifter, he was tanned and whittled thin from day labor. A clean white sweatshirt hung off his shoulders.

    "How's it going ?" Miscovich asked, his consonants sloshing around in a wet lisp.

    When he'd known Cunningham years earlier, back in their hometown of Latrobe, the handyman had been painfully shy, preferring to mow grass or paint walls alone.

    Back then, Miscovich hired him regularly, and Cunningham still checked in a few times a year after moving to Florida for year-round work. Knowing that his former employer had an interest in treasure hunting, he'd asked to meet today.

    Full article...

  • Shipwreck discovered off Gulf of Mexico has bounty of real treasure

    Some of the 27 gold bars recovered from the wreck of Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario

    By Hugo Gye - Daily Mail

    The stunning treasures from a sunken Spanish galleon have been revealed for the first time after the ship was rediscovered nearly 400 years on from its wreck in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The loss of the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario along with seven other ships destroyed the Bank of Madrid - and even contributed to the collapse of the Spanish Empire.

    Now deep-sea divers believe they have found its wreck 400m deep, with 17,000 objects on board revealing that it was carrying gold, pearls - and even parrots.

    The discovery unveiled today gives a fascinating glimpse into the sometimes unexpected treasures which made the colonial economy run. The wreck site, around 400 miles from the Florida Keys, contains 39 gold bars, and nearly 1,200 silver pieces of eight.

    More unusually, the site features more than 6,600 pearls being exported to Europe from the coast of Venezuela.

    The gems came from a type of oyster which was unique to South America but which was nearly extinct by the early 17th century thanks to over-exploitation by colonial traders.

    And it was not only wildlife to suffer from the oyster trade - 60,000 Caribbean natives are believed to have died while diving for pearls on behalf of the Spanish.

    In addition to the precious metals and jewels, two bird's bones were found at the site, thought to have come from a blue-headed parrot.

    Full article...

  • Lake search for Nazi gold

    Jewish stolen gold

    By Tony Paterson - New Zealand Herald

    An Israeli journalist has launched a search for nearly half-a-tonne of Jewish-owned gold and platinum believed to have been stolen by the nazis and dumped in a remote lake north of Berlin during the last days of World War II.

    Yaron Svoray, who is also an anti-Nazi campaigner, has begun a new attempt to find the stolen gold using sophisticated sonar equipment, following a number of previous failed bids.

    "It's about the people the treasure belongs to. It is time that they obtained a little justice," Svoray said.

    The lost gold and platinum is thought to be encased in 18 crates lying at the bottom of eastern Germany's Stolpsee Lake.

    In 1981, the Stasi - the Communist secret police - used army dredging barges to scour the 12m-deep lake but found nothing.

    Svoray's previous efforts to track down property stolen by the Nazis resulted in the recovery of 40 uncut Jewish-owned diamonds decades after the end of the war.

    The 59-year-old has also written a book entitled In Hitler's Shadow, which was later turned into a film.

    German authorities in the state of Brandenburg said they were assisting him in the Stolpsee search.

    According to some reports, the crates contain 350kg of gold and 100kg of platinum in bars which were stolen from prisoners at the Ravensbruck concentration camp near the Stolpsee.

    Another version holds that the precious metals were seized during the Kristallnacht pogrom in which countless Jewish businesses were ransacked by the Nazis in November 1938.

    Full article...

  • A tale of two brothers who took diving to new depths

    From This Is Kent

    It begins: "If it had not fallen to the lot of Whitstable to be celebrated for its oysters and its company of free dredgers, it might have claimed a word of notice for producing that rarest of all workmen, the sea diver."

    Dickens, who had reputedly stayed at the King's Head pub in Island Wall and conversed in depth with the divers, went on to describe the work they carried out, some of it in gruesome detail.

    In subsequent research I was often referred to a local story about brothers Charles and John Deane visiting a farm in Seasalter when the barn, housing horses, caught alight.

    A fire engine arrived, but the firefighters could not get through the smoke.

    Charles, wearing a fireman's helmet on his head and with a pipe from the now empty water-pump feeding air into it, was able to get through the smoke and free the horses.

    A tale from the past that might have some basis, but it is a fact that in 1823 Charles Deane patented a smoke helmet and air pump for firefighters.

    He and his brother tried to sell this to the insurance companies that owned most of the country's fire engines, but with little success.

    The Deanes worked with locals who were involved in salvaging using a diving bell and became convinced that this helmet with a suit could be developed for use under water. They spent much of 1827 and 1828 on the suit until they had a successful prototype ready in 1829.

    Gradually, together with help from local seamen, the Deanes developed new salvaging techniques and made a name for themselves in successful salvage operations. Their big break came in 1834.

    The Deanes and their team discovered and salvaged the Enterprise, a slave ship that had foundered near Copeland Island, off Ireland, in 1803 with £200,000 of silver dollars, the proceeds from the sale of slaves in America.



  • Quang Ngai’s shipwreck to be excavated in two months

    An ancient bowl collected from the shipwreck.

    By Mai Lan -Vietnam Net

    Dr. Nguyen Dang Vu, Director of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Ngai province, says that the Department signed a contract with Doan Anh Duong Co., Ltd. on the excavation of antiques in the shipwreck in the waters of Binh Chau commune, Binh Son district on January 29.

    The excavation began on January 30 and will last for 60 days. Doan Anh Duong Co., Ltd. is responsible for excavating the shipwreck on an area of 600 m2, at the cost of more than VND40 billion ($2 million).

    There are about 40,000 artifacts in the shipwreck.

    It is estimated that over VND54 billion ($2.5 million) can be collected from auctions. The State will hold the shipwreck and exclusive artifacts.

    The remaining objects will be divided in three parts, with two parts for the excavator and one part for the State.

    "This division has been approved by the People's Committee and it is strictly in accordance with law," Dr. Vu said.

    According to experts, the shipwreck dated back to the late Yuan Dynasty in China in the 14th century. The antiques are mainly household ceramic wares such as bowls, pots, cups, plates, incense ...

    The unique feature of these artifacts are being decorated by the patterns of chrysanthemum, orchid, lotus and wrestlers.

    The artifacts in the shipwreck in Binh Chau are the oldest compared to the underwater antiquities found in Vietnam so far.

  • Divers find second ship at same site off Plymouth

    Treasure hunters finds

    From  This Is Plymouth

    A group of amateur treasure-hunters who discovered the remains of an 18th century Dutch merchant vessel lost off the Devon coast during a violent storm in 1721, have uncovered a second wreck – on the same spot.

    Sunk in similar circumstances, the two ships lie side by side in the shallow waters of Jennycliff Bay, Plymouth Sound, twin tragedies separated by decades but found by the same four-man team...

    Scuba diver Howard Jones, whose recent book Blind Faith detailed his search for the wreck of the Aagtekerke, a 1000-ton Dutch East India Company vessel, now claims to have conclusive evidence of the final resting place of HMS Pallas, a Royal Navy frigate that met its end in treacherous conditions 77 years later.

    Mr Jones, 50, a former Royal Marine and Falklands veteran, said: "We decided to widen our search for the Aagtekerke, and within a matter of only a few yards came across a very small iron swivel gun."

    The 176lb, 38in swivel gun, lying on the seabed in two pieces, was a small bore cannon, designed for side-mounting on a ship's rails and was engaged during short-range combat or to cover the crew during boarding parties.

    "We retrieved the gun in its entirety and carefully removed hundreds of years of encrustation expecting to find another relic from the Dutch wreck, but we were amazed.

    "Not only did the two pieces match exactly, but to find a prominent British broad arrow marking on the barrel of the gun was a revelation."

    Originally a heraldic crest, the broad arrow symbol was adopted by Henry VIII to mark goods purchased from the monarchy's own purse. By the 17th century it signified all government-owned armaments and is still used today to mark property belonging to the MoD.

    Full article...

  • Emeralds case moves north

    By Adam Linhardt - Keys News

    The final chapter in the emeralds trial will be heard in Miami two weeks from today, a federal judge said Wednesday night to the surprise of the Key West courthouse.

    U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King cited scheduling conflicts. King is trying to determine if Jay Miscovich, who found about 154 pounds of emeralds on the seafloor, should pay the legal fees of a Mel Fisher-related company that sued him, then withdrew its claim.

    King also wanted to delve into the Fishers' claim of fraud.

    Attorneys were still questioning Duval Street-based Emeralds International owner Manuel Marcial at 6 p.m. Thursday, and expected to call more witnesses today. But closing arguments were scheduled to be heard Dec. 21 in Miami.

    Marcial testified that the 60,000 or so gems were not worth the millions that Miscovich claims.

    "With very few exceptions, they are of very poor quality," Marcial said on the stand, adding that he assessed them at $50,000 total.

    "No respected retailer would ever be interested in even looking at these. They are more suitable for collectors or tourists. My assessment ... is generous and perhaps excessive."

    Miscovich testified earlier in the week that experts at the Smithsonian and auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's had said some of the emeralds were priceless and museum quality.

    Marcial told the judge that most of the emeralds probably came from Brazil, not Colombia, and thus were worth nowhere near the purported millions.

    Marcial worked for the late Mel Fisher upon his discovery of the Spanish galleons Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita in the 1980s.

    The most heated exchange of the day, though, came from Bruce Silverstein, an investor in Miscovich's company. He dueled with the attorneys for Kim Fisher, son of Mel.

    The Fishers company originally sued Miscovich, alleging the emeralds came from the family's Atocha and Santa Margarita treasure sites.

    They claimed Miscovich committed fraud by concocting an elaborate scheme to swindle investors' money.

    The Fishers dropped their claim to the gems in August after Marcial's assessment.

    Full article...

  • Treasure hunter found £40m haul...then lost it

    Richard Knight

    By Ben James - The Argus


    A new documentary reveals how a Sussex treasure hunter reportedly found and then lost a £40 million bounty of one of history’s most infamous pirates.

    The incredible story of Richard Knight’s journey across the globe to find Captain Kidd’s bounty is told in The Hunt for Pirate Treasure.

    The documentary on digital channel Yesterday explains how the Lancing man gave up his job as an actor after becoming convinced of the whereabouts of the 17th century pirate’s treasure.

    While other hunters were fixated on the Caribbean, Mr Knight’s research led him to think that the treasure was instead somewhere in the South China Sea.

    After studying maps and charts drawn by the pirate, he became convinced that the bounty was buried on the small Vietnamese island of Hon Tre Lon.

    When he later learned that the island’s name translated as Grand Pirate’s Island in Vietnamese, he set off, trawling the bars of Australia and Hong Kong in search of companions.

    Full article...


  • Cargo of gold and whiskey fuels legend of the Westmoreland

    n artist's rendering of the wreck of the Westmoreland, a propellor steamer that sank on Dec. 7, 1854 in Platte Bay, 
    From Garret Ellison

    By Garett Ellison - MLive

    After 18 hours spent battling a blizzard on Lake Michigan, the fate of the Westmoreland was sealed less than three miles from safety.

    At 10 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1854, rising water in the bilge finally extinguished the fire in the boiler, leaving the cargo-laden steamer powerless and thrown to the mercy of heavy, icy seas off a then-remote stretch of Lake Michigan coastline.

    Half the souls on board the Westmoreland would soon perish in the deep, frigid waters of Platte Bay.

    The other half would spread the legend of a ship reputed to be carrying $100,000 in gold coins in her safe, and 280 barrels of whiskey in her hold, sparking more than a century of treasure hunters that would search in vain for the wreck.

    Search in vain, that is, until 155 years after the sinking, when a diver and shipwreck sleuth from Grand Rapids would find what others could not; the wreck of the Westmoreland sitting upright on the lake bed, 200 feet under the surface of a bay where summer vacationers frolic in the shadow of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore.

    “It is probably one of the most well-preserved shipwrecks from the 1850s on the planet,” said Ross Richardson, who found the wreck on July 7, 2010.

    “It’s in amazing condition.”

    Richardson, a former 17-year Steelcase employee who lived in Grand Rapids for 40 years before relocating to Lake Ann in 2008, will return to West Michigan on Thursday, Nov. 15 for a presentation on the search and discovery of the Westmoreland at the Grand Rapids Public Library main branch downtown.

    Full article...

  • Japanese shipwreck secrets to be unlocked

    Mother of pearl

    From Nine News

    The Arafura Sea off the Northern Territory coast can be a treacherous stretch of water during a storm.

    So it was in 1937 when Japanese pearling mother ship the Sanyo Maru went down in Boucaut Bay, with 20 people aboard and about 200 tonnes of mother of pearl, worth about 70,000 pounds at the time.

    "It was an absolute fortune," maritime archaeologist David Steinberg said on Friday.

    Mr Steinberg, from the NT's Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment will next week lead a team of six divers who will investigate the wreck.

    It is thought the Sanyo Maru went down because it was carrying too much cargo during the rough weather.

    Two people died when it sunk and another perished during a salvage operation a few months later, Mr Steinberg said.

    Two of the bodies have since been recovered, but it is possible one remains at the site.

    As a sign of respect, the diving team will perform a traditional ceremony where they take a sip of saki and then pour the rest of the bottle over the wreck.

    "We are just going to treat this site with respect, as if it is a grave site," Mr Steinberg said.

    It is likely that the salvage team in the 1930s only took part of the huge reserves of mother of pearl on board.

    But before treasure hunters with visions of finding large numbers of pearls on the site pack their bags, Mr Steinberg cautioned that the Sanyo Maru is protected by law as a significant shipwreck.


  • Treasure hunter mum on bounty

    Greg Brooks

    By Doug Fraser - Cape Cod Online

    Treasure hunters looking to find billions of dollars in platinum they say was loaded on a World War II cargo ship are getting ready to wrap things up without any sign yet that they have retrieved anything.

    Sub Sea Research owner Greg Brooks, based in Portland, Maine, wants to retrieve at least one of the platinum bars he claims was onboard the 431-foot-long Port Nicholson when it was sunk by a German sub on June 16, 1942, approximately 50 miles northeast of Provincetown.

    The ship lies in about 700 feet of water. As many as 30 boxes, possibly containing platinum bars, lie scattered around the ship, part of a haul worth as much as $5 billion, Brooks said.

    Brooks wrote in a recent email response to the Times that he had "an exclusive proprietary agreement with another media source" and would not grant any interviews that could violate that pact.

    Brooks gave numerous interviews earlier in the year before the Sea Hunter embarked from Boston in the summer to the wreck site.

    At that time, the group was raising funds from investors to continue a search it said has been under way for the past three years.

    The group already has spent $6 million on the project, and this past winter it put on a media blitz hoping to raise another $800,000 from investors.

    Brooks' senior researcher, Edward Michaud, said in an earlier interview the group wants to get a bar on deck to convince skeptics and investors there is treasure on the freighter.

    However, the remote-operated vehicle the group was using was not built to lift boxes weighing hundreds of pounds.

    The crew took delivery last month of a beefier Super Mohawk ROV from the marine equipment rental firm Deep Down Inc., according to photographs on the Sub Sea website.

    Full article...

  • Celebrities saved millions using tax breaks from shipwreck

    By Alexi Mostrous - The Times


    Celebrities and some of Britain’s most senior businessmen invested more than £110 million into marine treasure hunts, which allowed them to avoid tax on millions of pounds, The Times has learnt.

    Bear Grylls, the TV adventurer and Chief Scout, David Harding, the City’s highest earner, and Stephen and Julie Pankhurst, the co-founders of website Friends Reunited, are among 129 people who invested in 18 shipwreck salvage companies offering tax breaks now under investigations by HM Revenue & Customs...



  • Tomb raider’s treasure stays missing, but fortunes are being made

    By Alexi Mostrous - The Times

    When General Louis Palma di Cesnola, the 19th century tomb raider, loaded his favourite vessel with 62 boxes of treasure, he could hardly imagine its contents would become the focus of a modern-day tax dispute.

    On June 20, 1872, the 130ft Enigma caught fire, sinking with di Cesnola’s entire cargo of 4,000 stolen Phoenician relics.

    The general suspected foul-play but could do nothing.

    The ship is still on the seabed, somewhere off the coast of Cyprus.

    Since 2010, Robert Fraser Marine, a branch of a private London bank, once, part owned by Robert Maxwell has spent millions of pounds searching for sunken treasures...

    Full article... 

  • Huong River divers find treasure trove of antiquities

    Huong river

    From VietNamNet Bridge

    Over three decades ago, a scrap merchant got an "amazingly" high price for a ceramic item he found on the bed of the Huong (Perfume) River in the former imperial city of Hue.

    Since then, several divers joined the business of searching for antiques on the riverbed, and many precious items have been found.

    Nguyen Van Can and Pham Van Thuan are among these antique seekers, and both of them have over 20 years of experience on the job.

    They say the Huong River is over 100km long but the antiques are to be found on a 20km stretch in the lower reaches that run from Long Tho Hill to the Thuan An Estuary.

    Different sections of this stretch hold different groups of antiques, they say.

    Ancient stones and weapons have been found in front of the well-known Thien Mu Pagoda while the next section – from Kim Long Village to the area in front of the Hue Citadel – has released old bowls and dishes, jewellery and coins.

    From the Phu Xuan Bridge to a tributary of the Dong Ba River branch, a section holds a lot of military equipment and weapons from the former US-backed Sai Gon regime.

    The section to the south of Hen (Oyster) Islet keeps a lot of mushroom-shaped lime-pots of the former Champa civilisation, while another that runs from the Bai Dau area to the Sinh Crossroads has a lot of Vietnamese Chu Dau, Chinese and Champa ceramic wares of different types.

    Researcher Ho Tan Phan, who has a big collection of antiques lifted from the bed of the Huong river, says the "allocation" of different kinds of antiques to different sections of the river is testimony to a "very special" cultural phenomenon in Hue.

    He says many more studies need to be carried out to discover and clarify many cultural and historical aspects of the ancient city of Hue in particular and of Viet Nam in general.

  • Go on a treasure hunt in Russia

    Treasure hunt in Russia

    From Indrus

    Reports of treasure-trove discoveries appear in the Russian media about twice a year.

    With its vast territory and tumultuous history of war, pillage and sudden power shifts, Russia is hardly a surprising destination for flocks of treasure hunters.

    Given the fact that Russia’s banking system developed relatively late and left people to bury valuables in the ground for safekeeping, Russia has become something of a treasure hunter’s paradise.

    In reality, treasure is discovered in Russia much more frequently than the press would have us believe.

    Current legislation, however, means that treasure hunters are generally better advised to keep quiet about their findings: any unearthed treasure must be equally divided between the finder and the landowner.

    If the find is thought to contain items of “cultural or historical significance,” half of the appraised value goes to the state, while the finder can claim only half of the remaining 50 percent. 

    Moreover, the treasure is often fraudulently appraised, so the finder really only receives a fraction of the real value.

    Of course, this is not just about the money.

    Treasure hunters believe in fairy-tales, and, in their minds, they are never far from discovering a legendary find.  RBTH details the 12 most sought-after treasure-troves in Russia.

  • Odyssey plunges on North Atlantic work delay

    SS Mantola

    From Associated Press


    Deep sea exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration said Tuesday that the recovery operation on two shipwrecks in the North Atlantic is being delayed because of bad weather and other commitments.

    Shares of Odyssey fell 69 cents, or 18.7 percent, to $3 in afternoon trading on very heavy volume. That was a recovery from a low of $2.51 hit earlier in the session.

    The company said the project is being delayed because of weather and because its Seabed Worker ship is committed to another charter.

    Odyssey will resume work on the SS Gairsoppa and SS Mantola in the second quarter of 2013.

    Odyssey said it has recovered about 1,200 silver bars from the Gairsoppa, which is worth about $44 million based on current silver prices. The company said the find will add $26 million to its net income in 2012.

    The Gairsoppa sunk in 1941 after it was hit by a German U-boat about 300 miles off the coast of Ireland.

    The wreck is more than 15,000 below the surface and Odyssey said earlier this year that it had already recovered 48 million tons of silver from the wreck, making it heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals ever taken from a shipwreck.

    Odyssey said has searched about 70 percent of the holds and compartments on the Gairsoppa that were suitable for transporting silver. It believes 1,600 bars and other uninsured silver are still in the shipwreck and expects to finish its operation in 30 to 45 days after work resumes.

    The company found the wreck of the Mantola while searching for the Gairsoppa, and said it has tested ship and equipment capabilities on the Mantola.

    It will resume those operations after work on the Gairsoppa ends. The Mantola sank in 1917 after it was torpedoed by a German submarine. The wrecks of the Gairsoppa and Mantola are about 100 miles apart.

    Odyssey shares have traded between $2.11 and $4.36 in the past 52 weeks. Tuesday's volume of more than 3.8 million shares was more than six times normal trading volume.



  • Odyssey to begin commodity wreck program

    Commodities cargo

    From Coin Week

    Odyssey Marine Exploration, pioneers in the field of deep-ocean exploration, announced that the company has received project approval and salvage contracts from ship owners for a major multi-year commodity shipwreck program with a potential total recovery value of more than $230 million based upon current commodity prices and related assumptions.

    The company has negotiated salvage contracts with ship owners that will award 90% of the net recovered cargo value to Odyssey for four separate deep-ocean shipwrecks carrying valuable commodities when they sank.

    There are additional valuable shipwrecks that do not require salvage agreements that can be added to the program and undertaken while Odyssey has a ship and equipment nearby.

    Planning is underway to assemble the necessary ship and equipment for the recovery of these cargoes, which is targeted to begin as early as the second quarter of 2013.

    Search operations are anticipated to be completed very quickly with the recovery vessel so operations can flow directly from confirmation to cargo recovery.

    In addition, Odyssey has received an expression of interest from an investment group interest in providing non-dilutive funding to take the project to the stage where it will generate positive cash flow.

    Odyssey will evaluate this proposal, other potential non-dilutive options, and the possibility of self-funding the operation to determine the best course of action for long-term shareholder value.

    Full article...

  • First bars of sunken silver arrive in Odyssey's robotic hands

    Silver from the Gairsoppa

    By Stef DiPietrantonio - My Fox Tampa Bay


    Odyssey Marine, the Tampa-based treasure-hunting company, has done it again. They've recovering $200-million worth of silver from inside a British cargo ship, which sank during World War II.

    And unlike last time, Odyssey won't have to surrender the loot to another country.

    The folks at Odyssey Marine have successfully recovered about 48 tons of silver bullion, from three miles under the sea, as of Wednesday. And that was just the first batch from the S.S. Gairsoppa, a British cargo ship, which sank in February 1941.

    The first sets of silver bars were surgically plucked from theGairsoppa, using a giant robotic arm controlled by joysticks.

    There were cheers and hugs, even a few tears as they celebrated aboard their ship, as the recovered silver bricks were loaded onto the deck.

    "[I'm] very happy, very happy man," said Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig, who had a huge smile plastered on his face. He and his team are on a boat off the coast of Ireland, where they're recovering silver from two modern-day shipwrecks, the Gairsoppaand the Mantola.

    "The Gairsoppa is an interesting wreck. It was torpedoed by a U-boat in World War II.  It's reportedly up to seven-million in ounces of silver bullion, so at today's silver prices, north of $200 million of value there," said Odyssey President and C.O.O. Mark Gordon.

    He noted around 48 tons of silver bullion have been fished out so far.

    During the war, the U.K. government insured privately owned cargo under their war risk insurance program. The government paid the silver owners what the lost loot was worth back in 1941, but then the government became its owner.

    "Finding it was a milestone, and I think getting out here, getting started, it's kind of indescribable, it hasn't really sank in yet, that it's worked out," continued Craig.

    "And it's worked out in a place most people had written off."

    Unlike the gold coins Odyssey was forced to surrender to the Spanish government recently, the British government contracted with Odyssey to do this recovery.

    Under the deal, Odyssey bears all the risk, but gets 80-percent of whatever they can haul to the surface, after recovering their expenses.




  • Shipwreck hunter close to lost treasure

    Hugh Edwards with the anchor of what he believes is the Aagtekerke at the Abrolhos

    By Joseph Catanzaro - The West Australian

    A WA shipwreck hunter credited with finding the watery grave of the Batavia believes he has discovered the great ghost ship of the Abrolhos, a Dutch merchantman that mysteriously disappeared almost 300 years ago with 200 souls and a fortune in silver aboard.

    The Aagtekerke, which vanished in 1726 on a journey from Africa to Indonesia, has eluded Hugh Edwards for almost 50 years

    But the 79-year-old said that decades of research and many expeditions meant the ocean might be about to give up a jealously guarded secret.

    Mr Edwards believes the sunken grave of the Aagtekerke - and up to three tonnes of silver coins which would be worth millions of dollars today - lie just a few hours from Geraldton by boat.

    In his Swanbourne home yesterday, he unrolled a map on a desk littered with relics and pointed at a treacherous section of reef off the Abrolhos Islands.

    "We believe we've found it," Mr Edwards said.

    In 1966, Mr Edwards was spear-fishing off the Abrolhos when he found an elephant tusk on the ocean floor. He knew then and there it would lead him to a wreck. He just didn't realise it would be the lost Aagtekerke.

    The tusk was a mere 300m away from where, in 1963, Mr Edwards and his team had found evidence of the wreck of another Dutch merchantman, the Zeewyk.

    The ships had been built like identical twins.

    The Zeewyk wreck would later prove to be the major obstacle and the key to unlocking the mystery of her missing sister ship's supposed location.

    In the 1700s, Dutch trading vessels, loaded with chests full of silver destined for the China spice trade, frequently made the dangerous voyage between the Cape of Good Hope and Indonesia.

    Full story...

  • Randy Barnhouse makes a hobby of diving for treasures and sunken ships

    Randy Barnhouse holds up a piece from the Brick Wreck that sank in a hurricane as it was transporting bricks to the Dry Tortugas for a Union fort that was being built during the Civil War. 
    Photo Laura Simon

    By Lori Trepasso - Southeast Missourian

    To some, diving for sunken treasure in the sea sounds like the stuff of mysterious novels or movies.

    But to Randy Barnhouse, sunken treasure diving is a passion that he has pursued for nearly 30 years.

    "I always liked swimming and being around lakes, rivers and streams," says Barnhouse. "In 1980, I decided to take scuba lessons from a local dive shop that was then located here in town.

    I got my basic certification and then later my advanced certification, and that's [what eventually led me] to treasure diving."

    Barnhouse goes treasure diving about once a year off the east coast of Florida.

    "There was a fleet of Spanish ships that sank back in 1715 during a hurricane," says Barnhouse. "We know the location of about a half a dozen of those ships.

    Some of the treasure [that those ships carried] has still not been found."

    In 1985, Barnhouse was lucky enough to be involved in a dive that discovered the Spanish ship "Nuestra Señora De Atocha." It was the culmination of a 16-year search headed by Mel Fisher, whom Barnhouse calls "the undisputed king of sunken treasure."

    "The Spaniards could never find that ship after it sank, so we really hit the mother lode when we found it," says Barnhouse. Thousands of emeralds, 150 pounds of gold and 50 tons of silver bars were found on that dive, along with a huge collection of gold chains, rings and crucifixes.

    "We actually ended up lowering shopping carts down into the water with us to haul all of the treasure out," says Barnhouse.

    Painstaking measures are taken to document everything found on treasure dives, according to Barnhouse.

    "We take photographs and document things like the location of the item, how the artifact lies in relation to the wreckage and which ship wreck it came from," he explains.

    "We treat each find as a time capsule. Otherwise, the historical integrity [of the artifacts] can be lost."

    Full story...

  • South Pacific wreck may be full of pirate treasure

    Treasure ship site

    By Kathy Marks - The Independent

    The wreck of a 19th-century pirate ship believed to contain a hoard of treasure may finally have been found off Tonga, according to officials on the South Pacific island.

    The Port-au-Prince, a British privateer which had seized treasure from French and Spanish vessels, sailed into Tongan waters in 1806 in search of whales.

    However, it was seized by the local chief, Finau Ulukalala II, whose warriors massacred most of the crew, including the captain, William Thompson, and then scuttled it, so Tongan legend goes.

    Although the chief salvaged cannons and iron – then of great value in Tonga – from the ship, the rest of the treasure was supposedly left intact.

    Sandra Fifita, a local tourism official, said the Port-au-Prince's hold was believed to contain "a considerable amount of copper, silver and gold … along with a number of silver candlesticks, incense pans, crucifixes and chalices".

    Full story...

  • Discovering the Westmoreland Treasure Ship

    Westmoreland ship

    By Elizabeth Edwards - My North

    Northern Michigan: Over 150 years after she went down, shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson found Lake Michigan’s legendary treasure ship, the Westmoreland. Now What ?

    On Father’s Day 2010 Ross Richardson indulged his obsessive search for a shipwreck he refers to almost exclusively (and with a hint of passion in his voice) as She.

    As evening set in after a family outing, he put his 1984 20-foot Bayliner Trophy hardtop into Lake Michigan in Glen Arbor and ran it 16 miles through darkening waters until he’d rounded the glowing face of Empire bluffs.

    Offshore from the mouth of Benzie County’s Otter Creek and under a star-spattered sky, Richardson maneuvered his boat through the now black waters in a perfect mile-grid pattern.

    All the while, he studied the screen of his Hummingbird side-scan sonar, alert for any marks on the screen that could signal traces of the propeller steamer the Westmoreland—a ship perhaps not seen since she sank in a snowstorm in 1854.

    A ship that legend has it went down with a winter’s pay for the entire garrison stationed at Fort Mackinac—gold pieces that would be worth millions today.

    A ship whose whereabouts is one of Lake Michigan’s great unsolved mysteries.

    That short list also includes the whereabouts of the 17th-century Le Griffon—the first European sailing ship on the Great Lakes, and the Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 that disappeared in 1950 with 58 people onboard.

    All three wrecks have been doggedly pursued since they were lost, and sometimes hunters become so obsessive their names become intertwined with the wreck’s narrative.

    To wit, Le Griffon and Robert Libert, who believes he found LaSalle’s ship off the coast of Charlevoix in 2001 after searching 30 years, and then brashly involved the French government in his tangle with the state of Michigan over salvage rights.

    Then there’s adventure novelist Clive Cussler—the mind behind his novels’ hero, suave, craggily handsome Dirk Pitt—who uses the organization he founded and funds, National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA), to mount annual searches for Flight 2501.

    Full story...

  • Deep water treasure hunters recover 48 tons of silver

    Silver bulliom from the Gairsoppa

    From gCaptain 

    Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., a deep-ocean exploration company, said it recovered about 48 tons of silver from a World War II shipwreck three miles (4.8 kilometers) beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

    The company retrieved 1,203 silver bars, or about 1.4 million ounces of the metal, from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot (126-meter) British cargo ship that sank after being torpedoed by German U-boat in February 1941, Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey said today in a statement.

    The metal, worth $38 million at today’s prices, is being held at a secure facility in the U.K.

    Odyssey said the recovered silver represents about 20 percent of the bullion that may be on board the Gairsoppa, which lies about 300 miles off the coast of Ireland.

    The operation, the largest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck, should be completed in the third quarter.

    “With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation,” Greg Stemm, Odyssey chief executive officer, said in the statement.

    “Our success on the Gairsoppa marks the beginning of a new paradigm for Odyssey in which we expect modern shipwreck projects will complement our archaeological shipwreck excavations.”

    Full story...


  • Is there gold buried off the coast of the Grand Strand ?

    By Joel Allen - Carolina Live


    Salvagers are working an old shipwreck offshore, with the hope of finding treasure.

    The dredging boat Rio Bravo is docked at Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet this week.

    The boat's crew wouldn't allow NewsChannel 15 cameras on board or tell us what they're doing, though officials at the marina say the boat is involved in a salvage operation.

    And Kehl Carter says he knows what they're up to.

    Carter has been diving the area for years and says he was contracted by the salvage company, Marex, in 1996 to work a shipwreck that local divers call the "Copper Pot".

    "Some other businessmen here at the beach put together a full fledged salvage operation of the wreck site," Carter said. He said the Rio Bravo is doing another excavation of that same site he worked years ago.

    What divers call the "Copper Pot" wreck is really the steamship SS North Carolina. The boat was owned by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the world's richest men in the 19th century.

    In 1840, the ship collided with a sister ship off Murrells Inlet and sank, with 56 people on board. No one died in the wreck, but about a dozen senators and congressmen who were on board lost many of their possessions, some of which were later salvaged by Carter.



  • Ocean explorers comb Keys’ deep waters for ship

    By Cammy Clark - The Miami Herald

    Long before GPS, the coral reef tract that runs along the Florida Keys routinely sank unsuspecting ships. Storms also blew boats into the hard, shallow structures, contributing to a massive underwater graveyard.

    An American schooner named Kate, the British brig Lion and the French ship Cora Nelly all met their demise on this popular marine trade route.

    So did the Spanish warship Arcuana and the Winchester, a British man-of-war captained by John Soule that hit a reef so hard it tore a hole in its hull in 1695.

    “It’s a fascinating world out there of all the shipwrecks in our own backyard,” says Brenda Altmeier, a support specialist for maritime heritage resources at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

    Some shipwreck sites have been well known for decades. The Winchester was discovered in 1938 and was the subject of a National Geographic article.

    But the whereabouts of many of the sunken vessels — or what little is likely left of them — remains a mystery.

    Key Largo-based ocean explorer Ian Koblick and his partner Craig Mullen are hoping to change that by conducting the first comprehensive survey of the Keys ocean floor.

    “We’re treasure hunting for cultural jewels,” Mullen says.

    They began by dusting off a 1988 report by researcher Judy Halas, who spent endless hours scouring 18 volumes of admiralty records, newspaper articles and other sources to document 877 ships that were lost, bilged, saved, sunk, rammed, stranded, “ashore” or torpedoed in the waters of the island chain.

    Full story...

  • Does Alaska shipwreck hold millions in gold-rush riches ?

    SS Islander

    By Ben Anderson - Alaska Dispatch

    The Alaska Office of History and Archaeology estimates there could be as many as 3,000 shipwrecks lining the state’s 44,000 miles of coastline.

    Now, the multi-million-dollar mystery behind one of those wrecks may finally be answered, when a Seattle-based company attempts to salvage the remains of the SS Islander, which sank in 1901 while carrying Klondike gold rushers – and, reportedly, lots of their gold -- from Skagway to the city of Victoria in British Columbia.

    A federal judge in April declared that Ocean Mar, Inc. and its president, 62-year-old Theodore Jaynes, could move ahead with plans to survey and possibly salvage the more-than-century-old shipwreck.

    The decision ended more than a decade of legal wrangling over the salvage rights to the ship, and could finally answer the question of just how much -- if any -- gold remains on the sea floor where the SS Islander sunk in Southeast Alaska.

    But there’s more to this story about how a luxury ferry -- built in Scotland and considered “unsinkable” by some -- found its way to Alaska, and then to the seabed off of Alaska’s Admiralty Island.

    Along with the ship, about 40 people met their fate on an August night at the beginning of the 20th century.

    A 1992 report by the Community Development Department of the Borough of Juneau recounts in detail the life and sinking of the SS Islander.

    Built in 1888 in Glasgow at a cost of about $200,000, the 240-foot-long vessel was a model of late 19th-century luxury, built specifically for northern waters.

    Like the more famous Titanic, many presumed the ship to be “unsinkable,” constructed with airtight compartments that could flood individually without the entire ship sinking.

    The Islander operated during the peak of the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s, plying the waters of Southeast Alaska as the region saw a huge influx of hopeful prospectors seeking their fortunes.

    The treacherous waters of the Alaska Panhandle, combined with the heightened shipping traffic, claimed more than a few vessels.

    Full story...

  • Treasure hunter searches for fabled gold Madonna statue

     By Alexia Campbell - Sun Sentinel

    West Palm Beach treasure hunter Bob Bouchlas has spent decades searching for a piece of sunken treasure: a gold Madonna and Child statue listed aboard a Spanish galleon that sank in the 1656 near the Bahamas.

    The statue was never found among the later recovered loot of gold, silver and jewels.

    Bouchlas, 80, says the elusive statue may be buried off the coast of Palm Beach County, and is seeking the rights to salvage the wreckage of a what he believes is the San Miguel Arcangel.

    The Spanish ship went down near what is now Palm Beach County around the same time as the legendary Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas galleon, which sank near the Bahamas with a cargo of gold and gems partly salvaged in the 70s and 80s.

    On Friday, Bouchlas filed a claim in federal court in West Palm Beach seeking the exclusive rights to explore an area off the coast of Juno Beach under federal admiralty laws. His claim is the latest in a dispute among treasure hunters who want the right to look off the coast of Palm Beach County for untold riches.

    "I'm not after the silver and gold, I want the Madonna," said Bouchlas, who said he is also an ordained priest in a little-known Ukrainian National Orthodox Christian church. He said the 3-foot statue should go to the Vatican.

    The exact location of the elusive San Miguel shipwreck has sparked debate among South Florida treasure hunters who have dedicated their lives to explore the area's underwater loot. Jupiter Capt. Dominic Addario believes the thousands of gold and silver coins and other artifacts he's excavated off the coast of Jupiter belong to the San Miguel.

    A federal court judge in 1987 awarded him the rights to salvage artifacts from the site near Jupiter, which include coins that date back to 1658 and 1659.

    During his 25 years digging through the site, Addario has never found the ship, so it's unclear from which wreck they came.



  • Treasure hunter’s bankruptcy filing a surprise to investors

    SS central America

    By Kathy Lynn Gray - The Columbus Dispatch


    Investors hoping for returns on millions they gave to treasure hunter Tommy Thompson decades ago got a jolt recently when they learned that Thompson’s company had filed for bankruptcy in late March.

    But the worry was short-lived. By early May, Thompson’s company, Recovery Limited Partnership, had dismissed the bankruptcy filing in “the interests of all creditors,” court bankruptcy documents show.

    Investors — many of them from central Ohio — have not received a penny of the estimated $400 million in gold that Thompson and his crew pulled out of the SS Central America shipwreck in 1988.

    The steamer sank in 1857 off the Carolina coast with 21 tons of gold in its hold. Thompson’s crew was able to retrieve only some of the loot. Thompson sold at least some of the recovered gold to California Gold Group in 2000 for $52 million, but none of the money went to investors.

    In 2005, investors Donald C. Fanta and The Dispatch Printing Co., owner of The Dispatch, sued Thompson and his companies to obtain an accounting of the companies’ finances.

    Legal maneuvers have delayed the case for years, and it has bounced from Franklin County Common Pleas Court to U.S. District Court in Columbus and back.

    In 2008, the investors filed a motion to have a receiver take over the companies, Recovery Limited and Columbus Exploration LLC.

    Full story...


  • Wreck of pirate ship found off the Scillies

    From This Is Cornwall


    It is a swashbuckling tale of a time when no ship travelling the high seas was safe from the Pirate King of Scilly. In the mid-1600s, Captain John Mucknell's name was a byword for looting and kidnap which the King of England himself had been urged to stamp out.

    Now the Western Morning News can reveal that a Scillonian shipwreck hunter's claim to have found the remains of the pirate's flagship, the John, has prompted a major investigation.

    Maritime archeologists will later this month dive to the remains of the ship to start an analysis which could result in a rare protection order being issued. Todd Stevens, who located the wreck, said the story of the John and its colourful captain read like the script of a Hollywood blockbuster.

    "It's like a movie," he said. "John Mucknell wasn't even 50 when he died, but he lived an amazing life, any part of which would make a great film, but looked at together is almost unreal."

    Mr Stevens unravelled the fantastic story almost by accident when diving off the coast of St Mary's, the main inhabited island in the archipelago. He was aware there was a wreck in the shallow waters, but knew it hadn't really been explored because of strong rip currents.

    However, when he decided to have a closer look, he was astonished to find the remains of a large wooden ship measuring about 80 feet long.

    "I followed the lines in the sand and found there was more and more.

    "I was fighting the tide, but I could dig in with my hands to hold on.

    "I could tell it was a very big vessel, had been armed and from the construction technique that it was pre-1750.

    Full story...


  • Sunken treasure recovery operation mounted by Odyssey

    SS Gairsoppa

    From Marine Link

    Historical records indicate the Gairsoppa was carrying up to seven million ounces of silver and the Mantola was carrying approximately 600,000 ounces of silver when each sank.

    Odyssey discovered both shipwrecks in Q3 2011 and conducted a series of reconnaissance dives to both sites in March and April 2012.

    Both the Gairsoppa and Mantola projects are being conducted under contract with the UK Department for Transport.

    Under these contracts, which follow standard commercial practices, Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of the cargoes after recovery of expenses.

    Both merchant ships were torpedoed by German submarines, the Gairsoppa during WWII and theMantola during WWI. At that time, the UK government insured privately owned cargo under their War Risk Insurance program.

    Odyssey has chartered Swire Seabed's 291-foot Seabed Worker for this recovery operation. The Seabed Worker is equipped with advanced deep-ocean capabilities, including the specialized tools necessary to salvage modern steel wrecks, such as redundant deep ROV systems and a 100-ton active heave compensated crane.

    Odyssey has also acquired advanced specialty tooling for the project that will provide exceptional flexibility in accessing the bullion.

    "Modern steel wrecks such as Gairsoppa and Mantola require an advanced set of tools capable of surgically cutting through steel decks and removing bullion.

    After stringent review of available capabilities, we believe Seabed Worker is perfect for these projects. The ship has the ability to carry up to 300 tons of cargo below her decks.

    With the potential of over 240 tons of silver that may be brought up from both sites, we're confident that we've brought together the right team, the tools and transport features necessary to make this a secure and successful operation," said Mark Gordon, Odyssey COO & President. 

  • Wreck of jewel-laden ship 'found' near Stockholm

    From The Local

    Divers working in the Stockholm archipelago believe they have discovered the wreck of the legendary Swedish royal ship the “Resande Man” which famously disappeared carrying the crown jewels en route to Poland in 1660.

    The missing wreck of the Resande has near mythical-status in Swedish maritime history, as the ship was said to have been carrying a wealth of royal treasure to Poland when it sank in tempestuous weather.

    The divers, who made the discovery off the shores of Nynasham, south of Stockholm, believe the evidence points towards their find being the same ship, wrote the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

    We have the 17th century sources about the sinking and we’ve studied the currents and the winds and gone through earlier recorded searches for the ship,” explained expedition leader Michael Ågren to the paper.

    The ship we’ve found is in the right relation to the currents and winds that caused the accident, is from the right era, and is the same size as the Resande.

    Ågren has also speculated on what may remain inside the ship, even though some of the relics were salvaged in 1661, wrote SvD.

    We chose to search for this ship because it has such an interesting and well documented history. And not everything was salvaged. There may be gold, as well as jewels and seal of the crown,” he told the paper.

    The divers had access to such precise information of the ship’s sinking thanks to a crewman who survived the ordeal and wrote meticulous notes about the incident.

    The ship, which carried over 60 passengers and crew, sank on the 18th November in 1660.

    Full story...

  • Technical Divers Explore Japanese WWII Gold Shipwreck

    Kuda Maru

    By Joel Scanlon - Azo Mining

    A team of bold technical divers with the help of rebreathers carried out 16 amazing trimix dives to a depth of 300 ft during May first week, 2012.

    These dives were performed on an area of the WWII shipwreck, which is considered to be the Kuda Maru off the Cebu coast in Philippines.

    AP Diving manufactured rebreathers were used by the team. Life support systems were manufactured by AP Diving for the dive vessel of James Cameron. This vessel was recently used to dive into the ocean’s deepest area.

    The Kuda Maru is believed to have contained stolen gold which is now guarded by the Japanese sailors’ ghosts who perished during WWII. The aim of the journey was to discover the shipwreck positively as the Kuda Maru.

    According to Theuns van Niekerk, spokesperson of the expedition, they were unable to spend over 45 min at the bottom part, because it was really deep and there was a need for long decompression times.

    It was difficult to find the name on the shipwreck’s hull, as the ship was present at a considerable depth and was corroded for 70 years.

    Wide HD video of the shipwreck was taken. For further identifications, a comparison will be made between the drawings and pictures of Kuda Maru and the wreck’s specific features, Theuns stated.

    Scotty's Action Sports Network in Philippines sponsored this expedition. Damjan Perenic, Lou Holder, Patrice Laborda, Scott Livingston, and Theuns van Niekerk were the expedition divers.

  • Coins key to ship mystery

    Hugh Edwards with an anchor possibly from the Aagtekerke 
    Photo Cathina Ingleman Sunberg

    By Angela Pownall - The West Australian

    Shipwreck hunters will make a new expedition to the Abrolhos Islands in a bid to solve the 300-year-old mystery of the lost Dutch ship the Aagtekerke, which is thought to have gone down along the WA coast.

    Hugh Edwards and his team believe the Aagtekerke struck Half Moon Reef in the archipelago off Geraldton when it disappeared en route to Indonesia in 1726.

    Next month they hope to find some of the three tonnes of silver coins the ship was carrying between the Cape of Good Hope and Jakarta that could prove the wreck is in the Abrolhos Islands.

    In light of the growing evidence gathered by Mr Edwards and his team, WA Museum maritime archaeologists are now also planning to survey the archipelago.

    In 1968, Mr Edwards was among the finders of the Zeewijk, which sank on Half Moon Reef in 1727.

    But the discovery of elephant tusks, which were not listed on the Zeewijk's inventory but were part of the Aagterkerke's cargo, has led experts to believe the reef could be home to both wrecks.

    "We have looked all over the archipelago for the other ship but have never been able to find it," Mr Edwards said.

    "So we have come to the conclusion there are two wrecks at that site."

    Mr Edwards said they also found 44 guns at the Zeewijk wreck site, more than the usual number of 36 on such a ship. Nine anchors were also found when the Zeewijk would not usually have had more than six.

    "The Aagtekerke loaded 214 elephant tusks as part of the cargo at the Cape of Good Hope," Mr Edwards said.

    "The Zeewijk did not have elephant tusks. But among the difficulties is that both ships were built in the same shipyard by the same shipwrights.

    Full story...

  • Divers Stumble upon Bronze Statue in Bulgarian Black Sea

    A bronze statue portraying an elderly woman in a sit-down position has been found in Bulgarian Black Sea waters

    From Novinite


    Two divers, father and son, from Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Burgas, found in the waters near the historical town of Sozopol an utterly intriguing statue.

    The bronze statue, located at a depth of 2 meters, some 20 meters away from the shoreline, portrays an elderly woman in a sit-down position. It is 1.4-meter tall and believed to be modern, not ancient work.

    The Director of the Archeological Museum in Sozopol, Dimitar Nedev, has been notified. Nedev, together with two other experts from the National ArcheologyInstitute and Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, BAS, have already done an initial examination.

    The statue is temporarily kept at the Sozopol museum until its origins are definitively established.


  • Archaeologists accuse MoD of allowing US company to 'plunder' shipwreck

    HMS Victory

    From the Guardian

    Experts take legal advice in effort to block lucrative deal on underwater excavation of HMS Victory.

    The Ministry of Defence is facing a legal battle and parliamentary questions after letting a US company excavate a British 18th-century warship laden with a potentially lucrative cargo.

    Lord Renfrew is among leading archaeologists condemning a deal struck over HMS Victory, considered the world's mightiest ship when she sank in the Channel in 1744.

    In return for excavating the vessel's historic remains, which may include gold and silver worth many millions of pounds, Odyssey Marine Exploration is entitled to receive "a percentage of the recovered artefacts' fair value" or "artefacts in lieu of cash".

    Lord Renfrew, a Cambridge academic, said: "That is against the Unesco convention, in particular against the annexe, which states that underwater cultural heritage may not be sold off or exploited for commercial gain. Odyssey is a commercial salvager.

    It's not clear that payment could be obtained other than by the sale of the artefacts which are raised – which, of course, is how Odyssey has operated in the past. To raise artefacts simply for sale would be regarded by most responsible archaeologists as plundering."

    Two bronze guns have already been recovered from the wreck and sold to the National Museum of the Royal Navy, funded out of the MoD's grant.

    The archaeologists accuse the MoD of dereliction of duty in passing responsibility for the wreck to the Maritime Heritage Foundation (MHF), a charitable trust "which appears to have no financial, archaeological or management resources" while embarking on a project "that will cost millions".

    Archaeologists are determined to halt the excavation and are taking advice from maritime lawyers. The issue was raised by the All-party Parliamentary Archaeology Group.

    An Odyssey spokeswoman said that the MHF will work with an advisory group including representatives from the MoD and English Heritage, "to ensure that best archaeological practices are adopted in line with the annexe".

  • Odyssey Marine searches will be subject of TV specials

    By Ivan Penn - Tampa Bay Times

    Although Odyssey Marine Exploration hasn't always been able to capitalize on treasures it pulled from the bottom of the sea, the Tampa outfit is hoping its adventures are more successful on air.

    An Emmy Award-winning video production crew will travel aboard Odyssey's ships in June to film the company as it searches three shipwrecks for sunken treasure. The footage will air as three one-hour television shows.

    Odyssey's adventures to date have proved good source material for a Hollywood drama: hundreds of millions in gold and silver pulled from the Atlantic Ocean; international political intrigue involving the Kingdom of Spain, the U.S. State Department and a multimillion-dollar painting stolen by the Nazis; and treasure troves with nicknames like "Black Swan."

    The company announced the planned TV miniseries that it is filming with JWM Productions, which has produced shows for National Geographic and PBS, during its corporate earnings conference call Friday.

    "After the recovery work … you'll have a front-row seat for all of the action, as camera crews are presently aboard and are filming for three one-hour television specials," said Mark Gordon, Odyssey's president and chief operating officer, during the conference call.

    The company did not offer further details about the television program.

    But Gordon said he expects this year to mark a substantial shift in the company's financial operations because of three salvage projects that will be the subject of the TV shows.

    "One of Odyssey's goals is to share the excitement, stories and knowledge we gain from our shipwreck projects with the general public, and television programming is a great way to do that," said Liz Shows, an Odyssey spokeswoman.

    Full story...

  • Shipwreck explorers funded for excavations of historic ships

    HMS Victory treasure

    From Marine Link

    Odyssey Marine Exploration soon to begin three high-value marine recovery projects, receives US$ 8 million investment.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. deep-ocean shipwreck explorers, announce  it has delivered an additional closing notice for the Second Tranche of the financing that was previously announced in November 2011.

    The Company and the investor have agreed to a Second Tranche amount of $8 million. 

    Odyssey is planning to conduct the archaeological excavation of HMS Victory (1744) under contract with the Maritime Heritage Foundation and cargo recovery operations on SS Gairsoppa and SS Mantola under contract with the UK Department for Transport in 2012.

    The Company has several other projects and government agreements in various stages of development throughout the world.

    Under the terms of the agreement, the indebtedness under the note for the Second Tranche is not convertible into equity for six months, during which time the Company has the right to redeem the note for 110% of the amount outstanding at the time of redemption.

    The note will bear interest at the rate of 9% per year.

    Full story...

  • The trouble with treasure

    By Armen Keteyian - CBS News

    A man walks into a sounds like the setup to a joke, but that's how this story begins. Amateur diver Jay Miscovich walks into a bar in Key West, Florida, is shown a treasure map and a shard of pottery by a diver friend, and then -- although he's almost broke -- buys the map, convinced there is treasure and fortune to be found deep in the Gulf waters off Florida.

    Three year later, there's certainly plenty of treasure -- Miscovich says he's discovered tens of thousands of emeralds -- but so far no fortune.

    Last year, we got wind of a story that seemed -- on the surface -- too good to be true. An amateur diver and part-time treasure hunter had made one of the largest discoveries of sunken treasure in history: a sea bed covered in raw emeralds off the coast of Key West, Florida.

    We were able to track him down at his home in Pennsylvania. He's an unassuming real estate investor by the name of Jay Miscovich. 

    He poured out a laundry basket full of emeralds before our eyes and said he believed they were worth hundreds of millions of dollars and likely came from an ancient shipwreck. What's more, he said, Wall Street investors were backing him and the Smithsonian was buzzing.

    We set out to get to the bottom of the story only to discover just like those pirate tales of old, there's trouble, lots of trouble with treasure.

    Our search began on dry land, on Madison Avenue to be exact, at one of New York City's high-end jewelry stores.

    [Armen Keteyian: Look at that!]

    Jay Miscovich showed off a sample of his find.

    Jay Miscovich: We've brought up over 80 pounds so far. This-- you are seeing probably 30 pounds of it here.

    Greg Kwiat: That is an impressive pile.

    Ed Peterson: Holy cow.

    Armen Keteyian: Any question on the authenticity of these stones, at all?

    Ed Peterson: No. No this is the real McCoy.

    Gemologist Ed Peterson and owner Greg Kwiat could hardly believe their eyes.

    Greg Kwiat: I think this piece could go to the Oscars.

    Armen Keteyian: Is it possible to put a price on something like that ?

    Full story... 

  • Kihei man makes a living from finding lost treasures

    By Melissa Tanji - The Maui News


    Dave Sheldon makes a living searching for lost rings.

    The 38-year-old Kihei resident has returned more than 600 personal items to people who have lost their belongings - mostly men's wedding bands - found mainly underwater offshore of Maui.

    Sheldon is the owner of Dave's Metal Detecting, an underwater and land-based metal detecting business, which goes beyond locating wedding rings.

    He has been called out to look for dentures, teeth and prescription glasses that had fallen into the ocean. He also found a four-karat diamond ring that had been a 40th anniversary gift worth $60,000 to $80,000.

    But his latest find came accidentally.

    Last month, Sheldon was cruising around with his underwater metal detector gear at Kapalua Bay when he came across a 1958 Baldwin High School class ring.

    "That is completely amazing," Sheldon said after learning how long ago the ring went missing. "It was 52, 53 years ago."

    On land, it would be easy to find something in a spot where it had been lost 100 years ago, he said. But in the ocean, it's far more difficult because of currents and many other variables that change the bottom of nearshore waters all the time.

    The ring was found in about 3 feet of water and around 15 to 20 feet from shore. It had the initials A.Y. inscribed on it along with the graduation date.

    Sheldon called Baldwin High School officials for help and eventually got the name of the graduate from staffers who looked through old yearbooks. The ring belonged to 72-year-old Annette Yoda of Wailuku.

    "It took me almost a few seconds before I realized that I had lost my ring," Yoda said of her conversation with Sheldon.



  • What lies beneath

    By Skeeter Tower - Observer Today

    What kid does not dream of finding a buried treasure ? We have a buried treasure right off the Dunkirk shore. Where is the fanfare and jubilation that something quite wonderful, something authentic, something with historic significance has been discovered ?

    Richard Kullberg found the treasure. He is majority owner of North East Research, LLC, a company designed to locate and salvage shipwrecks.

    With more than 40 years of underwater recovery in the Florida Keys, they came seeking the wreck of a British payroll ship sunk on Aug. 8, 1813 and said to be carrying $400 million in gold coins to pay the British troops. Today, this would translate to billions!

    Kullberg is not a low-key kind of guy. When he returned to Dunkirk to pursue this discovery, he rolled into town in a Ferrari and a cigarette boat, armed with investment funds to get the job done.

    He became known as "Cape Cod Rich" along our waterfront, referencing the connection to Kullberg's business endeavor in the early '80s when he started the first whale watch service out of Barnstable Harbor on Cape Cod.

    It was a "no-brainer" for Kullberg, a Massachusetts native, who knew that for 35,000 years whales had come to this area to gorge on the krill released with the 11-foot tides.

    Kullberg, a 1977 graduate of Harvard Business School, describes his business philosophy as "Shots on goal," (hockey terminology) which, quoting Wayne Gretzky, says: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take," and, "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."

    Full story...

  • Lake Minnetonka reveals a new trove of shipwrecks

    The Excelsior steamboat carried tourists around the big lake. Its wreck had been discovered earlier; new work has found three more.

    By Tom Meersman - Star Tribune

    Archaeologists are scanning the bottom of one of Minnesota's largest lakes for unknown shipwrecks, and have already found some.

    A renewed effort to see what's lurking at the bottom of Lake Minnetonka has uncovered three historically significant shipwrecks from when the lake was a popular tourist attraction at the turn of the 20th century.

    Tempted to don a diving suit and seek out a treasure chest ?

    You'd come up empty-handed, because these wrecks and others, mostly steamboats, ferries or barges, were stripped clean of anything valuable and some were intentionally sunk when they became outdated.

    "Artifacts for us are the fittings on the boats, the different cleats, the wheels if they're left on," said Ann Merriman of Maritime Heritage Minnesota, which found the remains during a sonar survey that also turned up several dozen smaller images that may be rowboats, cars or other long-lost items.

    Seeing how the boats were crafted and used is historically important and their locations will be mapped so that they can be recognized as state archaeological sites. That would help keep them safe from disruption and allow divers to explore their wreckage.

    "Our goal is to keep wrecks safe from looting, and safe from damage from anchors, but it's certainly not to limit scuba divers' enjoyment of them," Merriman said.

    Merriman and her husband, Chris Olson, trolled the eastern, or lower half, of the large lake last fall and took hundreds of sonar images. The couple will survey the other half of Lake Minnetonka next month, looking for more.

    Full story...

  • Secrets lie on the bottom of the Bays de Noc

    By Karen Wils-Daily Press

    A foghorn moans out on Little Bay de Noc.

    From the waters of Green Bay to the head of our "little bay," a secret is out there.

    Slip back in time. When the moonbeams touch the water, time knows no boundaries. The year 2012, blends and flows and stirs up voices from decades past.

    The sad song of a Frenchman rolls with the waves. Feel the wind from a September gale ruffle the slightly tinged leaves along Washington Island, St. Martin's Island, the Stonington Peninsula and Sand Point (Escanaba). The secret is out there.

    Suddenly the waves close in from three directions. There is the smell of wet furs, smoke and then silence.

    Into a dark, murky, icy, tomb is cast The GRIFFON.

    It was the first European ship, (not native birch bark or dug-out canoe) to ever sail the Upper Great Lakes. And it is out there only a hop and a skip away from Escanaba.

    History books tells us that the Griffon was built above Niagara Falls and came to Lake Michigan in 1679. The ship belonged to King Louis XIV of France. It was the flagship for explorer, Robert LaSalle.

    After stopping over on an island, LaSalle sent the Griffon on ahead towards home with 6,000 pound of fur and other trade items. But the storm called out instead stealing the sailors, the furs, and an iron cannon with the insignia of King Louis on it.

    Looking southward from our sandy Escanaba shores, out over the water horizon, perhaps we can almost see where the Griffon was last seen.

    U.S. Navy man and shipwreck hunter, Steve Libert, found what he believes is the Griffon in 2001. Is the mystery solved about the long-lost ship ? Maybe, but now there is a storm of legal battles to weather.

    The ship is believed to be between Escanaba and St. Martin Island.

    Is it in Wisconsin waters or Michigan's ? Does it belong to the United States or France ?

    Full story...

  • Indonesia's shipwrecks mean riches and headaches

    By Robin McDowel - Seattlepi


    Mamat Evendi straps on his primitive breathing device — a garden hose attached to a compressor on the back of his wooden fishing boat. Pulling down his goggles, he splashes flippers-first into the crystal blue water.

    A few minutes later he's flashing a "thumbs up," pointing first to a massive, coral-encrusted anchor, then a bronze cannon and finally, peeking up from the sand, the buried deck of a 17th century European ship.

    Nearby are pieces of blue-and-white ceramics. A tiny perfume bottle. A sword handle. Broken wine flasks, one still sealed with a wooden cork.

    The wreck is just 6 meters (20 feet) underwater, one of four pushed into view after a tsunami slammed into the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia just over a year ago.

    They are among possibly 10,000 vessels littering the ocean floor of what for more than a millennium has been a crossroads for world trade.

    For historians, the wrecks are time capsules, a chance to peer directly into a single day, from the habits of the crew and the early arrival of religion to contemporary tastes in ceramics. But for Evendi and other fishermen involved in the new discoveries, it's not the past they see.

    It's the future. A chance, maybe, to strike it rich.

    "They keep telling me, 'Let's just break them open, get the stuff out,'" said Hardimansyah, a local maritime official who has taken it upon himself to protect the wrecks as the government wrangles over a new policy on underwater heritage.

    "To be honest, I'm getting frustrated, too," he says, noting he's already given the best artifacts pulled from the coral and sand to military and political officials who stop by his office from time to time to see what's been found. "Gifts," he calls them, or "offerings."

    "It's hard to say no if they ask."

  • Treasure mysteriously appears in the Bermuda Triangle

    Rare and virtually un-circulated silver "piece of eight" recovered from the world's deepest shipwreck, which sank in the Bermuda Triangle in 1810

    From Coast Explorer Magazine

    The Bermuda Triangle is famous for mysterious disappearances but this time the triangle has given back a trove of silver coins lost in the 18th century, which are now at Cannon Beach Treasure Company.

    As if right out of a Hollywood blockbuster, deep-sea submersible Mir 1 (of Titanic fame) slowly pushes through the pitch-black water, three miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

    The lights soon reveal what appears to be the rigging of a sailing ship scattered on the bottom.

    Then another shape emerges from the dark depths revealing itself to be the bow of an 18th century sailing ship thought to be lost forever in the Bermuda Triangle in 1810.

    As Mir 1 approaches the stern of the wreck, the remains of a wooden chest come into view and it is filled with silver coins.

    "There were only 1,315 coins recovered from this shipwreck, which makes them extremely rare," says historian and treasure hunter, Robert Lewis Knecht who owns Cannon Beach Treasure Company with his wife, April.

    "They were recovered in 16,000 feet of water from the world's deepest, known treasure shipwreck."

    Full story...

  • Price of bullion leads to sea-bed treasure hunt

    Gold bullion

    By Mark Keenan - Independent

    The high price of gold and silver bullion has led to a "treasure hunt" of sea-bed wrecks off the Irish coast.

    A source at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht says heritage orders will be applied "wherever the Government sees fit", as improved technology increasingly allows treasure firms access to deeper and more hazardous locations in Irish national waters -- and privateers race to get to wrecks before Irish legislation prohibits them from doing so.

    The world's largest marine commodity recovery operator, Omex, is already preparing to extract tens of millions worth of silver bullion from Irish waters within weeks.

    Only once has an underwater heritage order been applied to a shipwreck -- in reaction to the investigation by a private exploration firm of the Lusitania in 1995. After a lengthy court battle with the owners, which ended in a compromise agreement in 2006, the heritage rights of the Irish State were eventually upheld.

    The department source adds: "Treasure hunters are currently most interested in First World War wrecks, not only because they are most likely to have valuable cargoes on board, but because there is an increasingly small window in which to harvest their contents."

    Under Irish law, wrecks which are 100 years old automatically become national monuments. This means treasure hunters seeking unfettered access in order to cash in on currently high precious metal values need to get in before the deadline.

    Officials are concerned that treasure hunters might turn their attentions to unprotected wrecks like that of the Aud, the German vessel scuppered off Cork harbour in 1916 and laden with munitions for the Rising -- or to a series of German U-boats located off the Cork coast, which heritage officials believe have a high historic value to the State.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration (Omex) -- a Nasdaq-quoted US exploration company -- told its shareholders that it is coming into Irish coastal waters this spring to harvest silver bullion from the wreck of the SS Mantola, a First World War wreck located within the 200 miles zone which OMEX says contains $18m (€13m) worth of silver bullion.

    Omex, which features in the TV series Treasure Quest, is entangled in a court battle with the Spanish government after the company hoovered up 17 tons of silver and gold from an 1804 wreck, which the Spanish government is now claiming.

    With its share price affected by its perceived lack of success in the so-called "black swan" case, Omex announced its discovery last year of two British bullion ships off the Irish coast, the SS Gairsoppa and the SS Mantola.

    Omex is backed by the British government, which claims ownership and has made a deal to receive 20 per cent of the salvage.

    A game of cat and mouse appears to have ensued between Irish state officials and Omex, which has turned up unexpectedly in Irish waters on a number of occasions and has been intercepted more than once by the Irish naval services eager to see what they are doing.

    Last year Omex was discovered exploring a wreck 25 miles off the Great Blasket and its vessel was boarded.

    The crew were cooperative and there is no suggestion unlawful activities were taking place.

    Full story...

  • Sunken WWII treasure found ? Port Nicholson

    From Fox News - The interview news

    Treasure hunter claims discovery of $3 billion wreck... True story or hoax !??

  • Deal may yield world’s richest shipwreck trove

    A cannon was recovered in 2008 from wreckage of the H.M.S. Victory in the English Channel 
    Photo Odyssey Marine Exploration


    By William J. Broad - The New York Times

    A deal was struck on Wednesday to save what could prove to be one of the richest treasure wrecks of all time.

    Four years ago, in the depths of the English Channel, explorers found the remains of a legendary British warship that sank in 1744 and lost more than 1,000 men.

    But intruders disturbed the site, dragging and damaging some of the 44 bronze cannons visible on the sandy bottom and hauling one of them away.

    The wreck’s fate became a topic of public debate in Britain, and not just because of the nation’s efforts to preserve its maritime heritage: documents suggested that the warship, the H.M.S. Victory, had carried a secret cargo of gold coins weighing about four tons.

    If melted down, the gold might be worth $160 million. But if sold for their historic value, the coins might fetch $1 billion.

    On Wednesday, the discoverers of the wreck said they had signed an agreement in which they would document and recover the artifacts, ending a long period of uncertainty. They praised the accord as an innovative new way for nations to save historic wrecks.

    “We’ve come up with the model that everybody’s been looking for,” said Gregory P. Stemm, head of the discovery team and chief executive of Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Fla., a publicly traded company that specializes in deep-sea exploration and recovery.

    Odyssey will recover the warship’s remains for the Maritime Heritage Foundation, a British charity that received the title to the wreck from British authorities. Its chairman, Lord Lingfield, the Conservative peer formerly known as Sir Robert Balchin, said teaming up with Odyssey was aimed at preserving an important aspect of British history.

    “Therefore, we have planned an archaeological survey that will record the site before it deteriorates further,” he said.

    Lord Lingfield is a relative of Adm. Sir John Balchin, who commanded the Victory when it went down in a gale. The agreement between the foundation and Odyssey is to be formally announced on Thursday.

    The Victory was armed with as many as 110 bronze cannons, making it one of the deadliest vessels of the age. The largest cannon weighed four tons and could fire cannonballs of 42 pounds, making it the most powerful gun then used in naval warfare.

    In July 1744, the flagship Victory and a fleet of warships were sent to rescue a Mediterranean convoy blockaded by a French fleet at Lisbon. After chasing the French away, the Victory escorted the convoy as far as Gibraltar and then headed home.

    A raging storm hit the British fleet shortly after it entered the English Channel, and on Oct. 5, 1744, somewhere off the Channel Islands, the Victory went down with all hands.

    A month after the loss, a Dutch newspaper reported that the Victory had been carrying from Lisbon £400,000 destined for Dutch merchants. Odyssey has extensively researched the reliability of that report and concluded that the claimed shipment was most likely genuine and consisted of nearly four tons of gold coins.

    Full story...

  • £12b sunken loot could be found by new technology

    Neil Cunningham Dobson believes Monck's treasure could be revealed by new technology

    From Deadline News

    A hoard of treasure worth at least £12bn could be buried in the sands of a Scottish firth, a world-renowned marine expert claimed today.

    Historians have argued for centuries about the fate of the fleet of Roundhead general Monck, whose troops sacked Monarchist Dundee in 1651 and are thought to have filled several ships with booty.

    No trace has ever been found of the fleet, which was hit by a storm, but marine archaeologist Neil Cunningham Dobson believes the vessels may have been quickly covered by the shifting sands of the Tay.

    Mr Dobson, who works for a US marine exploration firm and has previously helped find wrecks from both world wars, said new equipment and technology could finally revealed the location of the lost fleet.

    Historic Scotland agree it remains “possible” that Monck’s fleet lies on the bed of the Tay and said its discovery would be of “historical and archaeological significance”.

    The loot stolen from Dundee is believed to have included around 200,000 gold coins, estimated to be worth £12.5bn at today’s prices. Many of Scotland’s wealthiest families stashed their wealth in the city, wrongly believing it was safe from the Roundheads.

    Mr Dobson, 55, principal marine archaeologist with Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration, said:

    “If historical records are investigated and proved to indicate that a fleet of ships floundering leaving the River Tay bound for London, then evidence of their remains and valuable cargoes could be laying under thousands of tonnes of sand somewhere along the south shore of the River Tay from Broughty Ferry out past the Abertay Sands to the east and southeast.

    Full story...

  • Treasure hunters prepare to recover $3 billion in platinum

    By Karen Anderson - WBZ TV


    Here on the Sea Hunter docked at Pier 1 in East Boston, the crew is getting ready to get their shipwrecked treasure. After three years working on this project, they are ready to recover the $3 billion in platinum.

    MV Sea Hunter Captain Gary Esper says, “We’re just about ready to pull it up. It’s fantastic, can’t wait for it. Been a couple years, we’re ready.”

    Kevin LaChance, the MV Sea Hunter Deck Boss, says, “We’ll bring ‘em up to show once and for all, we’re on the money.”

    The British vessel, the Port Nicholson, was carrying a $53 million dollar payment in platinum from the former Soviet Union to the U.S., when it was torpedoed by German U-Boat in 1942. It sank, and the location was kept secret until recently.

    The Sea Hunter crew located the wreck three years ago, about 50 miles off the coast of Provincetown 700 feet below sea level in 2008.

    Their equipment hasn’t been strong enough to battle the powerful current and grueling conditions.

    They will head back out, heavily armed, with stronger equipment, as soon as they get a weather window of good conditions.

    They have federal rights to the ship now, and say so far no one has claimed the treasure. When it’s salvaged, a judge will decide where it goes. The crew says the US was paid by insurance already.

    This team has found a few wrecks in Haiti, but never anything this large. This could be the richest shipwreck in history.



  • Nelson's £1million sword discovered at the bottom of the Med

    HMS Victoria

    By Rick Dewsbury - Daily Mail


    Lord Nelson's sword is hidden in a ship wreck 500ft below the surface of the Mediterranean sea, an explorer has claimed.

    Diver Mark Ellyatt says that he discovered the weapon in the ruins of HMS Victoria, which sank off the coast of Lebanon in 1893.

    The sword is said to have been among a haul of Nelson memorabilia that belonged to Vice Admiral George Tyron. Collectors could pay up to £1m for the artifact  - which is the same one that the Naval Lord shown holding on Nelson's Column in central London.

    However, there are concerns about who would claim ownership of the sword if it is recovered from the sea.

    Mr Ellyatt said he found the sword in Tryon's cabin which had an adjoining cupboard  containing a number of items that belonged to Nelson.

    'The MoD wanted to know the whereabouts of anything to do with Nelson. They didn't want it appearing on auction websites,' Mr Ellyatt told the Telegraph.

    'They were very interested in the sword but seemed to get cold feet when I offered to bring it up for them. I don't want people to go and strip the ship bare.

    Full story...

  • Lost treasure champagne on sale next summer

    Sunken champagne

    From YLE 

    Eleven bottles of the famous champagne found in an early 19th century shipwreck near Finland’s Åland Islands will go on auction next summer, according to reports by Åland media. The bottles are believed to be some of the oldest—if not the oldest—champagne in the world. 

    The government of the semi-autonomous maritime province of Åland had decided to sell several precious bottles some time ago, but now it settled on how many would be sold.

    Newspaper Ålandstidningen reports that four of the bottles to be auctioned in summer 2012 are from the champagne house Veuve Clicquot, six are Juglars and one is a Heidsieck.

    The latter arouses particular interest since only four such bottles were recovered and just one will go for sale. 

    Last June, the province auctioned off two bottles of the 145 found in the shipwreck. A Juglar went for 24,000 euros, while a Veuve Clicquot fetched 30,000.

    The cargo of intact, corked bottles was found in the summer of 2010.


  • Treasure-laden wreck of first Victory may be raised by American company

    A bronze cannon protruding from a sandbank at the shipwreck site of HMS Victory

    From Yorkshire Post

    The remains of the first HMS Victory could be raised from the sea bed nearly 300 years after it sank.

    The vessel, predecessor of Nelson’s famous flagship, went down in a storm off the Channel Islands in 1744, taking more than 1,000 soldiers to their deaths.

    Along with a bronze cannon collection, some believe the ship was carrying a large quantity of gold coins from Lisbon to Britain, which would now be worth a reported £500m.

    According to reports, the wreck is set to be handed over to the Maritime Heritage Foundation, which is expected to employ Odyssey Marine Exploration to carry out its recovery.

    The American company found the ship four years ago.

    A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “Efforts to protect key parts of British Naval history such as the wreck of HMS Victory 1744 are very welcome and we hope to make an announcement shortly.”

    The guns and other artefacts will be displayed in British museums, while Odyssey is likely to receive the bulk of any treasure under the laws of salvage. 

    Public interest in the Victory’s recovery, driven by the legend of its purported cargo, could match that seen for the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982 which involved a £4m operation to safeguard the 16th century remains.

    The Maritime Heritage Foundation was set up by Lord Lingfield, the Tory peer formerly known as Sir Robert Balchin, who is a relative of Admiral Sir John Balchin who was on board the Victory when it sank, although he stressed he would not profit personally from the ship’s cargo.

    Lord Lingfield told The Sunday Times: “The foundation seeks to prevent damage to this historically important site and maximise its archaeological, scientific and educational value.

    Full story...

  • Kaiser Willhelm's urinal found at bottom of Baltic

    Kaiser Wilhelm II

    By Matthew Day - The Telegraph

    German maritime archaeologists claimed to have found a urinal used by Kaiser Wilhelm II lying on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

    The piece of porcelain history was discovered in the wreck of the Udine, a light-cruiser which was sunk in the First World War by the Royal Navy, that now lies 28 nautical miles off the German island of Rugen.

    "It was sunk by the British in 1915," said Reinhard Oser, the archaeologist leading the expedition. "We managed to take some great photographs, and made this unusual discovery."

    At the time the significance of the urinal went unnoticed until later research revealed that the urinal was part of a special bathroom laid on for the emperor's convenience.

    "Kaiser Wilhelm was on board the ship when it was launched in Kiel on December 11, 1902, and went on its maiden voyage," explained Mr Oser, who added the team had been surprised by the identity of the urinal's user.

    The discovery of the regal lavatory has helped focus attention on the vast array of wrecks that litter the seabed of the Baltic. Archaeologists estimate that there as many as 3,000 ships, many of them victims of fighting in either the first or second world war, lie beneath the waves.

  • “El oro de la ‘Mercedes’ era de particulares, no del Gobierno español”

    Mark Gordon

    La Gaceta

    El director de Operaciones de Odyssey Marine Exploration explica la actuación de su empresa, denunciada por España ante la Justicia.

    Sustrajeron 15 toneladas de oro del buque español. La polémica empresa cazatesoros Odyssey ha tenido numerosas fricciones con el Gobierno español a causa de su apresamiento de pecios de barcos como el Salvador, la Concepción y la Mercedes.

    Sobre este último, con un cargamento de 17 toneladas de oro y plata, los juzgados están decidiendo a favor de España. Hoy, los espectadores pueden ver la entrevista completa a Mark Gordon en Visión Global (Business TV), a las 18.30 horas.

    -Un juez estadounidense ratifica que el cargamento pertenece a España… -

    Las monedas están aún en poder de Odissey y el caso judicial está lejos de haberse terminado. Hay en marcha un proceso para volver al mismo tribunal y tras eso al Supremo…

    Y nuestra intención es seguir este camino hasta el final. Muchos casos de barcos hundidos han llegado hasta el Tribunal Supremo antes de que decidieran a favor del rescatador.

    -¿Cuál es su principal argumento ?

    -Hay muchas leyes conflictivas, y eso es lo que tiene que determinar el tribunal para todas las partes implicadas. El barco naufragado fue encontrado a más de 30 millas de Portugal, así que no tiene nada que ver con las aguas estadounidenses…

    Hay mucha política involucrada en este caso. Hubo unas revelaciones que se destaparon el año pasado, en la primera oleada de WikiLeaks, sobre que el Gobierno estadounidense estaba dispuesto a apoyar activamente a España, a cambio de una pintura que está en Madrid… Así que, ¿quién sabe lo que está ocurriendo aquí ?

    -¿Cree, pues, que su caso no es sólo contra el Gobierno español, sino también contra el suyo propio ?

    -Hemos trabajado con el Gobierno español en el pasado, y queremos seguir cooperando con España. Ahora hemos estado colaborando con el Gobierno británico en un acuerdo en el que nosotros asumiremos todo el riesgo como empresa y el Estado se lleva su parte: 80% para nosotros por asumir el riesgo, 20% para el Gobierno, para los contribuyentes, que no se gastan ni un penique…

    Es el mismo tipo de acuerdo que nos encantaría ver. En contraste, el Gobierno español se ha estado gastando mucho dinero en abogados.

  • Couple to scour Minnesota River for steamboat wrecks

    The steamboat "Henrietta" arrived in Mankato on April 27, 1897

    By Tim Krohn - Mankato Free Press

    Husband and wife team Ann Merriman and Chris Olson are shipwreck hunters, using high-tech gear and historic records to scour Lake Superior, Lake Minnetonka and other big bodies of water for wrecks.

    Next summer they will begin surveying what may seem a less likely maritime route — the Minnesota River.

    “On the Minnesota, there were many reports of sunk or snagged (steamboats), five or six at least,” Merriman said. “How much is left of them, no one knows.”

    The steamboats that plied the Minnesota River from 1823 to near the turn of the century were substantial crafts — many 125 feet long, 25 feet wide, two stories high and carrying up to 160 tons of cargo and people.

    Merriman and her husband founded the nonprofit Maritime Heritage Minnesota ( in 2005 to document and preserve the state’s maritime history.

    They recently received a grant from the state’s Legacy Fund to conduct sonar imaging of the Minnesota River from St. Paul to Henderson.

    A second round of funding would allow them to map from Henderson to past Mankato — which was generally as far as most steamboats could venture.

    Full story...

  • Former NBA team owner on his passion for dead pirates

    Francis Drake expedition dive

    By Emily Smith - CNN

    Pat Croce is a man on a mission -- a mission to find his all time favorite pirate.

    The highly successful businessman, who rose from being a trainer in the locker room to president of one of the most storied franchises of the NBA, is on a quest to find the body of English explorer Sir Francis Drake, who was buried out at sea more than 400 years ago.

    Sir Francis Drake was an adventurer and a true pirate of the 16th century. Drake is credited with being the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. He led several voyages, many of them aimed at capturing Spanish territories and taking their treasure. While he made enemies with Spain, he enchanted Queen Elizabeth I, who is believed to have fondly called him "my pirate".

    But the Spanish got their revenge. Drake's voyage to the West Indies was disastrous, with the Spanish fleets prepared for the English. The adventure was to be his last and in 1596 he fell ill with dysentery. Dressed in armor, Drake's body was placed in a lead casket and thrown overboard off the coast of Panama. Days later two ships in the fleet were scuttled nearby, ensuring they wouldn't get into the hands of Drake's enemy, the Spanish.

    Now, centuries after he was laid to rest, Croce is on a quest to locate Drake's coffin. "I'm a businessman with a passion for pirates and I'm all about taking action on your passion," Croce enthuses.

    Croce has invested a great deal of time and money -- somewhere in the region of hundreds of thousands of dollars according to some experts -- into finding Drake's final resting place. Last month he had a major breakthrough.

    Armed with high-tech equipment, a team of archeologists and divers and using the information given to him by a researcher he has hired -- Croce set about combing the seabed in an area off the Panama coast. What they came across Croce describes as a tremendous find.

    They uncovered two ships that appeared to be burnt out, lying perpendicular to one another, in an area which Croce now likes to call 'Drake's alcove'. They didn't find a name on either ships, or the ships' bells, yet Croce and experts are quite convinced the ships are the "Delight" and "Elizabeth" -- the two ships in Drake's final voyage that were scuttled.

    Full story...

  • Seeking lost treasure after 94 years

    By Lena Smirnova - The Moscow Times

    It’s been nearly 100 years since a jewel case containing family and imperial jewelry crashed through the ice to the bottom of Lake Baikal. The last hands it touched before disappearing into the watery depths were those of a Russian woman who was fleeing the country to save her life.

    The year was 1917. The Bolsheviks had seized power, and White Russians were forced to move out of their homes or face execution.

    Vadim and Zinaida Smit had no hope of staying in the country. Vadim was railway minister for the east-west Siberian route and a personal friend of Tsar Nicholas II, and Zinaida was the godchild of the queen mother.

    With little time to think, they packed up whatever they could and fled St. Petersburg to China, from which they would catch a boat to Europe. They traveled by any means and walked when no transportation was available. They trudged through the Siberian snow and ice, losing their belongings in their haste to get to safety.

    Just when they were crossing the frozen Lake Baikal, they heard the crack.

    The ice had shattered beneath them, and the case that Zinaida was carrying slipped from her grip and plummeted to the bottom of the lake. It contained jewels that her husband and the imperial family had given to her. The Smits couldn’t afford to stop to search for it. They continued on, paying bribes at border checkpoints until they finally arrived at their destination in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

    The story of the jewel case was passed down through generations of the Smit family until it reached Helen Cleary, Vadim and Zinaida Smit’s great-granddaughter. Cleary, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, was in her 40s when she first heard the story from her mother.

    Cleary’s grandmother and father, direct descendants of the Smits, have already died, but her 81-year-old mother still hopes to find out what happened to the sunken treasure.

    “It would be amazing for it to be found,” Cleary said by telephone. “It’s astonishing that it all happened.”

    The family has waited 94 years to solve the mystery of the lost treasure chest. Now some people in Russia could be getting close to the answer.



  • Sea hunt for Sir Francis Drake's coffin proves fruitless

    Sir Francis Drake

    From This is Plymouth

    Treasure hunters who believed they were on the verge of finding Sir Francis Drake’s final resting place have failed to locate his coffin.

    The international team last month found two ships which were scuttled off the coast of Panama over 400 years ago.

    They believed Drake’s lead-lined coffin could be near to the location of the two wrecks ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Delight’ and launched a search for the historical artefact.

    Pat Croce, who led the underwater expedition, said the mission was unsuccessful – but pledged to return to the site to continue his search.

    The 56-year-old, a self-confessed pirate enthusiast and former president of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, said: “The expedition was unsuccessful in locating the lead-lined coffin of Sir Francis Drake.

    But we do have several anomalies or hotspots discovered by the sophisticated remote sensing equipment that coincide with my research. One in particular.”

    He said that before he left Portobello, he urged researchers he was travelling with to explore the exact location. They sent a diver down to the 100-foot seabed with a hand-held metal detector to investigate.

    Mr Croce said: “Unfortunately, the current was so strong that our diver, who was tethered to the survey vessel by an ‘umbilical’ breathing apparatus, considered the conditions too dangerous and he wisely abandoned the search.

    “For now, I say to Sir Francis Drake, ‘I’ll be back!’.”

    Full story...

  • Lawyer lobbies to help salvors

    By Adam Linhardt - Storm Keys news

    Fortunes in sunken treasure await discovery off the Colombian coast and new opportunities "beyond anything anyone ever dreamed" lay ahead for salvors, despite a recent U.S. court decision, said a former attorney for a company vying for billions of dollars in treasure. 

    A federal court on Monday dismissed a claim by the Seattle-based Sea Search Armada salvage company to half of the treasure it claims is buried within the Spanish galleon San Jose, which sank after an explosion while trying to outrun a fleet of British warships on June 8, 1708.

    Salvors say the San Jose now rests in 700 feet of water on the edge of the Continental Shelf near the port of Cartagena, but whether they are right, and whether untold riches lay with the wreck, remains to be seen as no treasure has yet been lifted from the seabed. 

    Sea Search Armada has been at legal loggerheads with the Colombian government for 20 years over who owns what some believe to be as much as $17 billion in gold, silver and emeralds aboard the ill-fated San Jose.

    "If this really is the San Jose, honest to God, it will be beyond belief," said former Sea Search Armada attorney and Key West resident David Paul Horan.

    According to a summary of the Sea Search complaint, Sea Search Armada claims to have found the San Jose in 1981. The Colombian government agreed that it would split the riches with the salvor. But the Colombian government later reneged and passed a law stating that Sea Search Armada could have only 5 percent of the treasure as part of a finder's fee, the complaint states.

    That law lit a slow-burning powder keg of legal tumult that appeared to culminate -- barring an appeal -- in Sea Search Armada's claim in U.S. federal court. On Monday, the U.S. court basically said the statute of limitations had run out for Sea Search Armada. 

    James DelSordo, an attorney representing Sea Search Armada, told the Associated Press on Monday that his client is considering its legal options and that the U.S. decision was "inaccurate" and "incorrect."

    Horan quit working for Sea Search Armada in the mid-1980s, citing fears that drug cartels were controlling the government or their negotiators, but he has been watching the case closely and believes the Colombian government is ready to forge a more permanent accord with salvors.

    In other words, lobbyists for treasure salvors are ready to strike a deal with Colombian lawmakers that would better benefit salvors as well as the government.

    The government, Horan intends to argue, need salvors to find the treasure. If they run them all off, nobody wins, he said. 

    The Colombian legislature is drafting future laws on how to deal with future salvage cases, Horan said. There needs to be standing law that benefits salvors and the government, because both sides benefit, he said.


  • Underwater treasure hunting

    From Xinhuanet


    Treasure hunters have swarmed to the South China Sea in great number in recent years, seeking to uncover the region's massive quantities of underwater relics. However, their actions have also endangered the region's cultural heritage, prompting authorities to take action.

    China's Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, occupy an area of 15,000 square km in the South China Sea. Speculators and local fishermen have been surveying the waters around the islands for treasure since 1996, when a local fisherman discovered an ancient shipwreck in the area.

    Many of the hunters use crude means to retrieve underwater relics, lacking both proper equipment and government approval. Destructive looting has done irreversible damage to the shipwrecks of the Xisha Islands.

    Lying on the route of the ancient maritime Silk Road, the waters around the Xisha Islands were and still are heavily traveled shipping lanes, with ships transporting goods between China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

    However, the waters around the islands are also known for their poor navigability, as they are surrounded by coral reefs. Historical records show that a number of ships struck hidden reefs and sank near the islands, taking their treasures with them to the ocean floor.

    Official archaeological surveys show that there are at least 122 wrecked ships on the bottom of the South China Sea. Many of them date back to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1276) dynasties, when trade with foreign countries was thriving.

    "According to studies of previously salvaged ships, most of the sunken ships departed from China's costal regions, bound for overseas countries," said Wang Yiping, director-general of the Hainan Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage.

    "Previously, official maritime archaeological surveys were largely limited to coastal waters due to a lack of technology and funds. However, archaeological research and salvages of several wreckages have helped to fill in knowledge gaps regarding Chinese and foreign interaction, production, consumption and trade relations centuries ago," Wang added.

    The valuable artifacts discovered in the ancient ships, including porcelain, gold and bronzeware, have helped to shed new light on commerce and shipbuilding as they were practiced centuries ago. They are the "missing links" on the Silk Road trade route that linked ancient China with the Western world, Wang said.

    Looting destroys the archaeological and anthropological context in which the relics exist, preventing people from fully appreciating the historic significance of the region, Wang said.



  • US court rules in favor of Colombia in Holy Grail of shipwrecks case

    Underwater treasure

    From Fox News Latino

    A U.S. court ruled in favor of Colombia in a decades-long legal dispute over the ownership of pieces of a sunken galleon found in Colombian territorial waters 300 years ago.

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the Andean country does not have to pay $17 billion to Sea Search Armada, a U.S.-based salvage company. The company claimed the South American country breached a contract granting it the right to salvage Galleon San José, a British Navy ship that sank June 8, 1708, off the coast of Colombia.

    The Spanish ship, which was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships, came loaded with more than 200 tons of gold, silver and emeralds when a mysterious explosion made it sink 700 feet below the surface, near the Rosario Islands. The treasure was owned by Peruvian and European merchants.

    The Spanish galleon San José was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships off Colombia on June 8, 1708, when a mysterious explosion sent it to the bottom of the sea with gold, silver and emeralds owned by private Peruvian and European merchants, and lies about 700 feet below the water’s surface, a few miles from the historic Caribbean port of Cartagena, on the edge of the Continental Shelf.

    Sea Search Armada said it found the shipwreck in the 1980s, and was given exclusive rights to claim 50 percent of what it found. Colombia later signed a decree – which eventually became law – giving the company a 5 percent “finders fee” – triggering Sea Search to sue Colombia for a larger share of its find.

    The treasure is reportedly worth $4 billion to $17 billion.

    “Without a doubt, the San José is the Holy Grail of treasure shipwrecks,” Robert Cembrola, director of the Naval War College Museum in Newport, R.I., said when the lawsuit was first filed.  

    Full story...

  • Sport divers go deep for trinkets and treasure

    By Rob Lovitt - MSNBC

    Forget the gold in them thar hills; these days, big treasure troves are being found at the bottom of the ocean.

    Consider, for example, the Mantola, a sunken British steam ship found off the coast of Ireland in early October. Torpedoed in 1917, the vessel is believed to hold 20 tons of silver with a current worth of around $18 million.

    It’s enough to make a recreational diver grab his or her scuba tanks and dive overboard — even if the potential haul is a bit less precious.

    “What we’d consider treasure, those guys would just laugh at,” said Dave Sommers, owner of Dive Hatteras in Cape Hatteras, N.C. “A lot of us are just artifact hounds, looking for fittings, portholes, china … That’s what we call treasure.”

    For recreational divers, there’s still plenty to be found, especially in the wreck-rich waters along the Eastern Seaboard. “Once you start wreck diving,” said Sommers, “a lot of other types of diving pale in comparison.”

    To get in on the action, would-be treasure hunters should have the appropriate certification, be aware of laws regarding artifact removal and consider going with operators who are familiar with area wrecks and local water conditions.

    Patience is also important, said Cameron Sebastian, operations manager for Coastal Scuba in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.: “If you’re going to try to look for trinkets and treasures, you’re going to spend a lot of time in one spot just digging through the sand.”

    Such “trinkets,” of course, won’t make you rich, but longtime wreck divers suggest there’s also value in simply experiencing the history of various vessels.

    “These ships are like time capsules,” said Ted Green, owner of O.C. Diver in West Ocean City, Md. “Yes, you’re hunting for stuff, but most people have a good time whether they’re successful or not.”



  • Silver treasure, worth $18 Million, found in North Atlantic

    SS Mantola

    By William J. Broad - The New York Times

    Sea explorers announced Monday the discovery of a new sunken treasure that they plan to retrieve from the bottom of the North Atlantic.

    Off Ireland in 1917, a German torpedo sank the British steamship Mantola, sending the vessel and its cargo of an estimated 20 tons of silver to the seabed more than a mile down. At today’s prices, the metal would be worth about $18 million.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration, based in Tampa, Fla., said it had visually confirmed the identity of the Mantola with a tethered robot last month during an expedition and had been contracted by the British Department for Transport (a successor to the Ministry of War Transport) to retrieve the lost riches.

    In recent years, strapped governments have started looking to lost cargoes as a way to raise money. They do so because the latest generation of robots, lights, cameras and claws can withstand the deep sea’s crushing pressures and have opened up a new world of shipwreck recovery.

    “A lot of new and interesting opportunities are presenting themselves,” said Greg Stemm, the chief executive of Odyssey. The new finding, he added, is the company’s second discovery of a deep-ocean wreck for the British government this year.

    In such arrangements, private companies put their own money at risk in costly expeditions and split any profits. In this case, Odyssey is to get 80 percent of the silver’s value and the British government 20 percent. It plans to attempt the recovery in the spring, along with that of its previous find.

    Last month, Odyssey announced its discovery of the British steamship Gairsoppa off Ireland and estimated its cargo at up to 240 tons of silver — a trove worth more than $200 million. The Gairsoppa was torpedoed in 1941.

    Both ships had been owned by the British Indian Steam Navigation Company, and both were found by Odyssey during expeditions in the past few months. Odyssey said that the Mantola’s sinking in 1917 had prompted the British government to pay out an insurance claim on about 600,000 troy ounces of silver, or more than 20 tons.

    Mr. Stemm said the Mantola’s silver should make “a great target for testing some new technology” of deep-sea retrieval.


    Full story...

  • Divers set sights on silver-laden WWII ship

    A deepwater robot took this photo of the S.S. Gairsoppa, which sank in 1941 off the Irish coast 
    Photo OMEX

    By William J. Broad - New York Times

    In 1941, a Nazi torpedo tore a hole in a British merchant ship carrying a fortune in silver to England from India.

    The ship was part of a convoy headed for Liverpool, but it went down about 300 miles southwest of Ireland, disappearing in icy waters nearly three miles deep, deeper than the resting place of the Titanic.

    Now, divers say they have found the wreck intact and they estimate its cargo at up to 240 tons of silver — a trove worth more than $200 million. They plan to recover it this spring.

    The recovery, if successful, would be history’s deepest and largest retrieval of a precious cargo lost at sea and highlight the growing power of ocean technology, according to Odyssey Marine Exploration, the company that found the ship.

    It is working under contract to the British government and says it verified the ship’s identity this month.

    “We were fortunate to find the shipwreck sitting upright, with the holds open and easily accessible,” said Greg Stemm, chief executive of Odyssey, which is based in Tampa, Fla. “This should enable to us to unload cargo through the hatches, as would happen with a ship alongside a cargo terminal.”

    Mr. Stemm added that a growing number of seafaring nations view cargo recovery as a creative way to increase revenues.

    In such arrangements, private contractors put their own money at risk in costly expeditions and split any profits. Odyssey, for instance, is to get 80 percent of the silver’s value, and the British government 20 percent.

    “It doesn’t cost taxpayers a dollar and accrues right to the bottom line,” Mr. Stemm said in an interview. “Governments are waking up to the potential.”

    The ship carrying the valuable cargo was the S.S. Gairsoppa, a vessel of the British Indian Steam Navigation Company that was named for a spectacular waterfall near India’s western coast. In December 1940, it sailed from Calcutta laden with tea, iron and tons of silver.

    In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the ship joined a military convoy headed to the British Isles and the contested waters of the North Atlantic.

    The merchant steamship, 412 feet long, had 83 crewmen and two gunners on board, according to Lloyd’s of London, which compiles information about cargo lost in war.

    High winds and a heavy swell soon forced the Gairsoppa to slow. As the weather deteriorated, the captain judged that the wallowing ship had insufficient coal to make it to Liverpool and broke from the convoy for Galway, in western Ireland.

    Then, a highly decorated German U-boat captain, Ernst Mengersen, moved in for the attack. It was Feb. 17, 1941. A single torpedo ripped through the Gairsoppa’s hull and exploded, causing the forward mast to topple and the antenna to snap, cutting off the ship from the world. The U-boat opened fire as the Gairsoppa sank.

    All 85 men died save one — the second officer, who survived 13 days in a lifeboat.

    In recent years, the famous lost cargo of silver began to beckon as technological strides resulted in new generations of sturdy robots, lights, cameras and claws that can withstand the crushing pressure of the deep. At least one company tried, and failed, to find the shipwreck.

    In early 2010, Odyssey won an exclusive contract from Britain’s Department for Transport to salvage the cargo. This past summer, it hired a Russian ship and performed a preliminary survey in international waters, finding what it considered solid clues.

    And this month, the company took its main ship, the Odyssey Explorer, to investigate the area. Its tethered robot took three and a half hours to descend 2.9 miles through dark waters to the muddy seabed. Then came a eureka moment, when the robot found a gaping hole where the torpedo struck 70 years ago.

    The hulk of the Gairsoppa was covered in rivulets of rust known as rusticles, which look like brownish icicles. But still standing bright and shiny on the deck was a waist-high compass used by the helmsmen.

    There, small creatures with long tentacles had made themselves at home.

    Odyssey says it confirmed the wreck’s identity from evidence including the number of holds, the anchor type, the scupper locations and red-and-black hull colors that matched the scheme used by the British Indian Steam Navigation Company.

    Full story...

  • Discovery of English shipwreck at the mouth of the Thames

    From Sail World

    A mystery sunken sailing ship lying in 110 metres of water at the entrance to the Thames River is tipped to be a ship of the English Royal Africa Company, according to items retrieved from the vessel.

    This is the conclusion of the discoverer of the items, Odyssey Marine Exploration, a world leader in deep-ocean shipwreck exploration. 

    Discovered during the Atlas Project, believed to be the most extensive shipwreck search operation ever launched encompassing 5,000 square miles of ocean in 2005/6, the significant items in the wreck were :

    An unmarked 17th-century tobacco pipe, Three glass bottle bases, A wooden folding rule, Manilla bracelets and... Elephant tusks.

    An examination of these artifacts has established that the wreck is of a late 17th-century shipwreck that the company calls 35F. Close study of the artifacts by Odyssey’s archaeological team has led to the hypothesis that the wreck may represent the westernmost example of a West African trader and the only example of this date known off the UK. 

    If accurate, the evidence suggests site 35F would be the first English Royal Africa Company shipwreck identified worldwide. 

    Using advanced robotic technology, Odyssey conducted a pre-disturbance survey, including a photomosaic, and archaeologically recovered sample artifacts from the site. By studying the site’s formation and composition, and the recovered items, Odyssey was able to piece together likely history of this mysterious wreck.

    Although the team cannot conclusively identify the shipwreck, the work conducted so far certainly indicates that the site is of historical significance: 

    The discovery of manilla bracelets (a highly valuable form of primitive currency) and elephant tusks undoubtedly links the ship to the triangular trade route between Africa, Europe and the Caribbean/Americas. 

    The wooden folding rule (an early version of the modern calculator and the earliest example to be found on a shipwreck) utilizes the English inch indicating the presence of a British carpenter on the ship. 

    Although the generic tobacco pipe discovered was not adorned with a maker’s mark, its style is consistent with pipes produced in England some time between 1660-1690, allowing the team to establish a date range and national origin of the wreck.

    Full story...

  • Amateur diver finds 13th-century chest

    13th-Century Chest

    From Erkki Sivonen - ERR


    Recreational diver Andrei Ossiptshuk, diving in the Bay of Tallinn in August, came up with a merchant's chest dropped some eight centuries ago.

    The chest lay among the rocks a little off the Tallinn waterfront at the depth of seven meters.

    When opened, it yielded yellow brass scales, a set of tin weights, several leather knife sheaths, knife handles and some 13th-century coins.

    According to Maili Roio, advisor at the Heritage Board, the find is unique and very well preserved. "I don't think there has been a find quite like this one".

    The objects probably belonged to a petty merchant in Tallinn, which by the 13th century had already become a major Baltic port and trade hub.

    The Estonian History Museum has been tasked with the conservation of the rare antiques.

  • Sunken treasure sparks legal tussle

    By Tom Hals - Swissinfo

    It was an eye-popping investment pitch no one else could match -- in return for $2 million (1 million pounds), Manhattan accountant Neil Ash was offering investors a stake in the one of the biggest sunken treasures ever, an underwater site teeming with emeralds.

    The hitch: When Ash took backers to a Citibank vault to inspect gems that had quietly been recovered from the sea, they were gone.

    That set in motion a complicated and colourful legal scramble to lay claim to a trove of emeralds worth up to $500 million, according to court documents.

    It's a story marked by accusations of double-dealing, corporate mutiny and deceit. The cast includes an investor who once oversaw Citigroup's hedge fund business, a Democratic Party insider who has hosted the Obama family at his Hawaii getaway and an unlikely amateur treasure hunter.

    The main legal dispute has played out quietly in Delaware's Chancery Court, where Jay Miscovich, a retired doctor who apparently found the emeralds, has battled against his investors who tried to seize control of the company that they say owns the treasure.

    A settlement was approved Friday, but if the treasure is as striking as court documents suggest, there are probably more legal fights to come.

    "It's just amazing to me, it's nearly like a movie script," said Paul Horan, Key West's go-to attorney for treasure salvors, of the case. "You just scratch your head and ask what the hell is going on."

    The main players in the drama are bound to silence by confidentiality agreements. Most sensitive details have been redacted from court documents. It's never even revealed where the sunken treasure is located, or thought to be located. The filings from each side that are public contradict eachother, and despite the settlement each side negates the other's accusations.


    To the degree a story can be pieced together, it goes something like this.

    In early 2010, Miscovich, an investor in sunken treasure excavations, claimed to have located a site and recovered a "cache" of precious stones.

    To pay for the pricey recovery work, Miscovich turned for assistance to his brother Scott, a Hawaiian physician. Scott connected Jay with Dean Barr, the former Citigroup hedge fund executive, who in turn, brought in Ash the accountant. In the summer of 2010, the pair agreed to pony up roughly $2 million, according to the partnership agreement, although the two sides differ on how much of that they actually invested.

    Almost immediately, things soured. The investors suspected the Miscoviches were scheming to keep the most highly prized gems for themselves -- a concern fuelled by the empty safe deposit box episode.

    Their worst fears seemed to be confirmed when Ash, the accountant, was contacted by Gerry Edwards, a diver working on the recovery efforts in Florida. Recounting the conversation to Reuters, Edwards said he told Ash that boxes of emeralds were being stashed out of the investors' reach in Key West.

    Soon after Edwards' call to Ash, the investors sued. They wanted a ruling that Jay Miscovich had breached his contract with the investors and that they could seize control of the partnership.




  • Premier treasure-hunting: Putin dives into “Russian Atlantis”

    From RT

    Known for his keen interest in exotic adventures, Vladimir Putin has tried himself as a sea treasure hunter.

    While visiting an excavation of an ancient city in south Russia, the prime minister could not resist the temptation to take part in some research to shed light on the fate of the historic site.

    The PM put on a diving suit and dived deep into the Taman Bay where, to everyone’s utter surprise, he managed to find two ancient amphorae dating back to the 6th century AD.

    Putin said he had seen at a depth of about two meters – the sea was still and the water transparent.

    The chief archeologist explained to Putin that amphorae often broke when the ancient ships were loaded or unloaded, so the sailors just threw them into the sea.

    The city of Phanagoria, founded about 2,550 years ago, is Russia’s biggest ancient settlement. For unknown reasons, it was abandoned in the late 9th century AD – this is why archeologists call it the “Russian Atlantis.”

    The PM suggested that the excavation should become an underwater museum – the attraction, he believes, will gather crowds from all over the world.

    Putin also told journalists that the Taman dive was his third-ever attempt at scuba diving. He added that swimming in a diving suit is much more interesting than in a submarine.

    Back in 2009, the PM dived into the Baikal Lake on a Mir-1 – a special submersible.

  • Britain gripped by rush for nazi gold


    From RT

    Underwater treasures can charm the hearts and capture the minds of even the most practical people in the world.

    A team of British businessmen seems, too, to have fallen under the spell of hidden nazi gold.

    The businessmen managed to find the directions to the treasures in a secret SS letter stored in the nazi archives in Koblenz, British media report.

    The document says the gold was sunk in Berlin’s Stolpsee Lake by the end of World War II as ordered by Luftwaffe Commander Hermann Göring. Whom the 18 boxes belonged to is unknown.

    The British treasure-hunters have found a witness to the sinking.

    “There were 20 to 30 men wearing death camp uniforms; they stored the heavy boxes on boats,” Eckard Litz told The Sun. “The boats took to the middle of the lake where the boxes were thrown into the water.

    Then the boats were refilled – about six times. After all the boxes were sunk, the Nazi’s shot all the men.”

    Back in 1981, East Germany’s Defense Minister Erich Mielke ordered to search for the gold in the lake, but nothing was found. Local residents say the lake is filled with garbage, which could seriously complicate the search operation.

    "I am not surprised they have not found anything as the lake is 1,040 acres in size. They didn't have the technology to properly examine the lake,” priest Erich Koehler told the Sun.

    “But there are enough local people still around to know that the gold is there – and the bodies of the poor souls forced to dump it into the water."

    The British businessmen, however, are will not give up that easy: they are planning to rent a submarine.

  • Gold rush frenzy for nazi loot

    Gold rush ... 18 boxes of Nazi gold buried in German lake, priest claims

    From The Sun

    Germany is in the grip of a Gold Rush sparked by a priest who says nearly 20 boxes of Nazi loot lie hidden in a lake. 

    An army of treasure hunters have flocked to the site after a local 77-year-old priest claimed the precious metal was hidden somewhere under the surface.

    A total of 18 boxes of pure gold were allegedly buried in lake Stolpsee, an hour from Berlin, by Polish workers at the request of notorious nazi Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering whose country retreat Carinhall was located nearby.

    He emptied his home of prized valuables before ordering the home be razed with dynamite in the closing weeks of the Second World War as the Russian army marched on the capital.

    It is said the men took the gold to the middle of the lake in inflatable boats to throw overboard.

    But the boats were then allegedly shot and sank and the workers slaughtered with machine guns.

    A mission to trawl the lake with SUBMARINES is being financed by a group of unidentified businessmen.

    Previous attempts to find the gold have failed.

    In 1986, East Germany's Stasi secret police boss Erich Mielke had the lake searched after a 'treasure map' was discovered that appeared to reveal the gold was hidden there.

    Full story...

  • Divers find gold in Holyhead, as wreck gives up ghosts

    The Royal Charter

    By Jasper Copping - The Independent

    Treasure hunters have recovered gold from a Victorian shipwreck that sunk off Anglesey Island in Wales while returning laden with riches from the Australian gold rush.

    For more than 150 years it has lain tantalisingly close to the shore. Now the ship that sank in a storm in 1859, claiming 450 lives, has given up its most precious secret: gold.

    But this treasure trove is not in a distant tropical lagoon -- it is near the ferry port of Holyhead, in the remains of an iron-clad steam clipper called the Royal Charter.

    A team of divers at the ship, which sunk off Anglesey while returning with riches from the Australian gold rush of the 1850s, has brought gold coins and nuggets to the surface and expects to find more.

    The ship foundered on rocks just yards from the shore after a hurricane hit on the last leg of its journey from Melbourne to Liverpool in October 1859. On board were gold prospectors returning with their fortunes. By daybreak the ship had sunk and 450 passengers and crew, along with the gold, had been lost.

    Vincent Thurkettle, a full-time gold panner who is leading the expedition, said: "We have got some gold dust, nuggets and coins as well as about 200 artefacts. And there is more gold down there."

    The finds have all been reported to the Receiver of Wreck, who administers all shipwrecks. People connected to the passengers can claim ownership -- although claims are thought to be unlikely. The gold will then be returned to the team or sold to a museum, with a fee passed to the divers.

    The treasure has yet to be valued and the team have declined to say how big their haul is. However, the value, particularly of the coins, will be inflated because of where they were found.

    Mr Thurkettle said: "To have a coin from the Royal Charter will probably be worth double or treble what it would otherwise be worth."

    His team of about 12 divers and gold panners have been visiting the wreck for the past seven summers, but only now have they agreed to reveal details. They estimate there's another two years' worth of exploring left.

    Full story...

  • With some virtual help, Key West diver finds valuable coin in ship wreckage

    From News Press


    Soon after the 523-foot warship Hoyt S. Vandenberg was sunk as an artificial reef off Key West, documentary filmmaker Pat Clyne hid a $2,400 silver coin from the 17th-century aboard the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha.

    Anyone finding the coin could keep it, and on Saturday, almost two years later, Key West diver Randy Pekarik found it in a corridor beneath the ship’s bridge at a depth of 97 feet.

    To aid in the search, Clyne posted a series of clues on his YouTube site.

    “I started following the clues, but it’s a huge ship,” said Pekarik, who made more than 30 dives looking for the coin.

    “Even though the first clues eliminated three-quarters of the ship, that’s still a humongous amount of ship.

    It was like finding a needle in a haystack.”

  • Odyssey to commence Gairsoppa silver project

    SS Gairsoppa

    From Market Watch

    Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. has executed a charter agreement to utilize the Russian Research Vessel Yuzhmorgeologiya to conduct search operations for the SS Gairsoppa.

    The Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in February 1941 while enlisted in the service of the United Kingdom Ministry of War Transport. Contemporary research and official documents indicate that the ship was carrying as much as 7,000,000 ounces of silver.

    In 2010, the United Kingdom (UK) Government Department for Transport awarded Odyssey, through a competitive bid, the exclusive salvage contract for the cargo of the SS Gairsoppa. Under the salvage contract, Odyssey will retain 80% of the bullion value of the cargo after expenses. 

    Odyssey expects to commence operations on the SS Gairsoppa project in July 2011 using the Yuzhmorgeologiya, a vessel owned by the Russian government and managed by CGGE International. The timing of the recovery operation will depend on the physical disposition of the shipwreck and weather.

    The UK Dept for Transport has extended Odyssey's salvage agreement for an additional year to take into account a salvage operation that is expected to extend into 2012.

    "We look forward to beginning work with the R/V Yuzhmorgeologiya, an impressive ship that can withstand the extreme weather conditions in the search area," said Greg Stemm, CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.

    "With work on advanced-stage projects keeping the Odyssey Explorer busy for the foreseeable future, it made sense to charter an additional vessel for the prime weather window for Gairsoppa operations.

    We're confident in our team, the technology and research that we have lined up for the project and we're looking forward to locating and recovering the cargo of the Gairsoppa.

    The search area for this ship is clearly delineated based on specific locational reports from the U-Boat captain that sank the ship, as well as the navigational data from the other ships that had been in the same fleet in the Atlantic and the account of the ship's second officer who survived the shipwreck."


  • Treasure hunter Capt Carl Fismer brings new discoveries

    From Cannon Beach Gazette 

    Ever wondered what it's like to hold genuine "pieces of eight" that were just recovered from a long lost Spanish galleon in Florida ? Curious Cannon Beachers can do just that at the Cannon Beach Treasure Company June 16 to 20, and they'll also get a chance to visit with veteran treasure hunter Capt. Carl "Fizz" Fismer, the man who discovered them.

    Fismer is the president of Spanish Main Treasure Company, and he has been a

    professional treasure hunter for 43 years. Proprietors Robert and April Knecht promise visitors plenty of treasure talk and the unveiling of a few new discoveries fresh from the famous 1715 Fleet shipwreck, located off the coast of Vero Beach, Fla.

    "I started diving with Fizz over 20 years ago documenting his discoveries and treasure hunting with him," said Knecht, who lived and dived in the Florida Keys for almost two decades. "I've made over 900 dives, and many of them have been with Carl."

    Fismer is an expert in shipwreck and artifact identification and he has explored, salvaged and consulted on nearly 300 shipwrecks in the Bahamas, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, and the Southeast United States.

    In that time, he has made thousands of dives in six countries and has recovered more than $10 million in sunken treasure. He has served as curator of several maritime museums, and he's been featured on the covers of numerous treasure magazines. He's also the star of the Australian TV series "Treasure Divers" and has appeared as a shipwreck artifact expert on the TV show "Pawn Stars."

    The Knechts invite one and all to hear the Captain spin treasure-hunting tales and perhaps grab an autograph. The Cannon Beach Treasure Company will host a "Coffee with the Captain" event each morning around 10 a.m. Rumor has it the Captain will also be out on the town enjoying adult beverages at the Lumberyard and Bill's Tavern after hours, and he'll be looking for some good company.


  • Even recovered, ship's gold remains mystery

    By Kathy Lynn Gray - Dispatch

    The proposal seemed preposterous: Tommy Thompson, an engineer and shipwreck-enthusiast, said he could find a steamer that had sunk in 1857 off the Carolina coast with 21 tons of gold in its hold.

    Wealthy central Ohio men and women listened, and one by one anteed up money so Thompson's expedition could move forward. The chance that Thompson would find the ship was one in a million, they knew.

    On the other hand, he was so confident, so persuasive, so sure he could find it.

    Still, perhaps no one was more surprised than those 161 investors when Thompson actually found the SS Central America in 1988 - 8,000 feet down - and eventually brought up a treasure-trove of gold coins and bars worth up to $400 million.

    But as difficult as the search-and-recovery expedition was, unraveling who is entitled to the riches has been even more difficult.

    Twenty-three years later, investors have not seen a cent of profit, and crew members who claim they are owed part of the proceeds haven't received that, either.

    A trial is scheduled in federal court late next month that could untangle some of the secrecy that has always surrounded the "gold ship."

    Nine people hired by Thompson to help find the wreck say that, under their contract, they're entitled to about 2 percent of the sale proceeds of the treasure because they helped to pinpoint the wreck with sonar and other devices.

    Thompson argues in court documents that they have been paid what they're due - a fee for their work. He says their work did not pinpoint the wreck site, so they're not entitled to the additional amount, estimated at $2million to $5million.

    That's just one of a flurry of lawsuits that have been filed over the years since the gold's discovery. Another was filed by The Dispatch Printing Company and Donald C. Fanta in 2005 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Fanta is a former president of The Ohio Company, an investment firm that was bought by Fifth-Third Bancorp in 1998. Dispatch Printing owns The Columbus Dispatch.

    Dispatch Printing and Fanta invested a total of $1.5million in the treasure hunt and have sued four directors of Thompson's company - Columbus Exploration Limited Partnership - to obtain an accounting of the expedition's profits.

    That lawsuit argues that investors have not received any "meaningful information" about the companies' finances or what happened to the investors' money since 2000.


  • Deep-sea explorers fight Spain over shipwreck treasure

    From the Washington Post


    Florida deep-sea explorers asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to overturn an earlier ruling that 17 tons of treasure recovered from a sunken Spanish galleon belongs to Spain, deepening a long-running battle over a trove worth an estimated $500 million that has unfolded not on the high seas but in federal courtrooms.

    Attorneys for Odyssey Marine Exploration asked the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the “finders keepers” rule that would give the treasure hunters the rights to silver coins, copper ingots, gold cufflinks and other artifacts salvaged about four years ago from the galleon off the coast of Portugal.

    Spain’s lawyers countered that U.S. courts are obligated by international treaty and maritime law to uphold Spain’s claim to the haul.

    The ship, called the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, was sunk by British warships in the Atlantic in 1804 while sailing back from South America with more than 200 people on board. Odyssey created an international splash in May 2007 when it announced that it raised more than 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts from the wreck and flew the treasure back to Tampa.

    Spain went to the U.S. District Court in Tampa, where the company is based, claiming ownership while Odyssey disputed the Spanish government’s ownership of the valuable cargo.

    A federal judge sided with Spain in the first round of the tug-of-war in June 2009, accepting the Spanish government’s argument that it never surrendered ownership of the ship and its contents. But the two sides — along with a horde of other lawyers representing outside parties — were back in court Tuesday to argue a case that could spill over to treasure hunts for years to come.

    Much of Tuesday’s arguments centered on whether the Mercedes was classified as a warship or merchant ship. That’s an important distinction because Odyssey’s attorneys argued that if the vessel was destroyed during commercial activity, Spain would have no firm claim to the property.

    International treaties generally hold that warships sunk in battle are protected from treasure seekers.

    “There is no vessel. There is no ship. There is no graveyard,” said Odyssey attorney Melinda MacConnel, who added that the company never raised any remnants of the actual ship.

    “The commercial activity of this ship could not be more clear.”

  • Cluster of shipwrecks with cargo discovery

    From Hydro International

    Oceanic Research and Recovery and Deep Marine Salvage have agreed upon their first intended "cluster" of five commodity-based salvage targets.

    These targets have been selected from ORRV's vast portfolio of shipwrecks lost in northern hemisphere waters.

    The combined manifested value of these cargos is a minimum of USD2 billion at current commodity prices, and consists of platinum, gold, silver, copper and zinc.

    Cluster Targeting, a new approach to salvage planning developed by DMS, leverages the close proximity of valuable shipwrecks to maximising the amount of time the primary salvage ship can remain on site during each recovery cycle, minimising the high cost of vessel mobilisation, location transit and vessel demobilisation and minimising the risk that undersea working conditions on a wreck might make salvage unprofitable thereby forcing a return to port. 

    "This cluster has been selected because the wrecks are close to each other and because they lie at shallow depths," said Scott Heimdal, CEO of ORRV. "

    On the water time is money, the faster you can put it on the deck the higher your margins," continued Mr. Heimdal.

    "Working depth is a big factor in feasibility planning. Selecting this cluster ensures minimal daily operating costs."


  • Seafarer crew hunting for Spanish gold off Juno Beach

    ByLona O'Connor - The Palm Beach post

    With his dark slacks, pale skin and battered leather briefcase, it is clear that Kyle Kennedy is the office guy of the treasure-hunting company Seafarer Explorations.

    Just granted a state permit to explore the area off Juno Beach for the next three years, Seafarer hopes to raise a fortune for its shareholders.

    "One of my shareholders says, 'It's like having a lottery ticket with no expiration date,'" said Kennedy, whose company is based in Tampa. The salvaging operation is expected to begin next week.

    The crew, including Capt. Rodney Grambo, look much more like the seafarers they are, wearing flip-flops and shorts, their skin tanned the same color as Kennedy's briefcase and their biceps richly tattooed. They also have good seafaring nicknames like Ringo.

    Their boat, dwarfed by the luxury yachts and fishing boats around it, has an equally colorful name, Iron Maiden. Her stern is distinguished by two giant blowers that push away tons of sand, speeding the tedious excavation process.

    Funny story about those sand blowers: A few years back, when Captain Rodney was looking for a treasure chest full of emeralds from the Atocha, Mel Fisher's $400 million treasure ship, the blowers did their job too well.

    "The blowers blew the emeralds everywhere," said Grambo. "Still to this day they call that site the Emerald City."

    Here's how the treasure-hunting process works: About 20 years ago Palm Beach County treasure hunter and historian Jud Laird found an anchor off the coast of northern Palm Beach County.

    Laird worked the site for a few years, then recently joined forces with Seafarer.

    By the positioning of the anchor's fluke, or barbed end, they determined that the ship anchored offshore during a storm.

    By the distribution of lead musket balls, lead hull sheathing, cannonballs and serpentine jade from the ship's ballast pile, they estimated how far the ship was dragged by the storm before it sank.

  • Gulf Shores company planning to recover shipwreck artifacts

    Wreck locations

    By Brendan Kirby - Press-Register

    Their work slowed by last year’s oil spill and typical winter weather, explorers who discovered four shipwrecks near the mouth of Mobile Bay seven years ago plan to recover additional artifacts in the coming months, attorneys indicated last week.

    A Gulf Shores company called Fathom Exploration filed a federal lawsuit in 2004 in an attempt to secure the four underwater spots.

    The legal proceedings have been on hold since then while Fathom Exploration tries to analyze the artifacts.

    If the sites can be positively identified, a judge will decide who has rights to the artifacts — the state, the company or a Mobile man who believes one of the sites might be the 19th century clipper ship Robert H. Dixey. He is a descendent of the ship’s captain.

    The parties file reports every three months updating the court on their progress. In the most recent report, attorneys stated that the BP oil spill in the summer curtailed Fathom’s offshore activities.

    Weather and sea conditions also limited activity during the winter, the attorneys wrote.

    “As we move deeper into the spring and early summer season, weather conditions typically improve and allow for the safe resumption of offshore work,” the joint statement read.



  • ORRV team discovers two shipwrecks in the Philippines

    From PRNewswire

    Oceanic Research and Recovery Inc., a marine salvage and exploration company, today announced that team members have discovered two shipwrecks in the Philippines.

    Preliminary investigations indicate that at least one of the ships located is believed to be a Manila Galleon that was outbound from Manila to Acapulco, Mexico.

    The second wreck is believed to be an inbound Manila Galleon which would be carrying silver and gold to be traded for oriental goods; a local guide presented team members with a silver coin dated 1786 (King Carlos III) reported to be from this site.

    "The objective of the Tradewinds Project has been to locate one of the fabled Manila Galleons; it looks like we might have been successful," said Scott Heimdal, CEO of ORRV. "One ballast pile is located where research said the ship sank and the dimensions are correct.

    The pile is estimated at over 50 meters long and 15 meters wide. It also lies at depths which made it impossible for any type of salvage operation at the time of loss."

    "The other site shows a perfect side scan image of the hull of a sailing ship with a long bowsprit sitting on the bottom minus the masts; the amount of structural preservation is astounding," continued Mr. Heimdal. "This wreck was located where historical records indicate a Manila Galleon was lost. Hundreds of porcelain shards were collected from a reef close to this site which led to the discovery of the wreck. Both wrecks are also of extraordinary size for sailing vessels and Manila Galleons were some of the largest sailing ships ever built."

    The Tradewinds Project is the culmination of almost 4 years of development efforts. It is a long term effort planned and organized to locate and recover multiple shipwrecks in the Philippines over the next 5 years.

    The next phase of operations, planned to start in the next few weeks, will be conducted while working in cooperation with the National Museum of the Philippines and other governmental agencies. Currently ORRV is organizing legal, logistical and operational requirements to proceed with the next phase.

    Scheduled work involves additional non-invasive studies of the sites including: high resolution side scan imagery, creation of overall photo mosaics and setting survey points.

    This data will then be utilized as baseline data in the marine archaeology GIS system regularly used by ORRV on all its projects.

    This will provide the baseline data used to begin excavation of the wrecks by the team of archaeologists. More information on this sophisticated archaeological tool is available on the ORRV website.


  • Divers find 'oldest shipwreck in the Caribbean'

    Buried treasure: Silver coins worth millions, ancient Mayan jewellery and a mirrored object possibly for a Shamanic ritual were all found on the wreck

    By Amy Oliver - Daily Mail

    A chance encounter with a fisherman has led one team of treasure hunters to discover what they believe is the oldest shipwreck in the Caribbean.

    And after only diving the site - located off the Dominican Republic coast - a handful of times, the team at Deep Blue Marine has unearthed some serious treasure.

    At the last count Captain Billy Rawson and his crew had uncovered 700 silver coins that could be worth millions, jade figurines and even a mirrored stone that was possibly used in Shamanic rituals.

    Everything was in pretty good condition, despite dating back to the 1500s.

    'We only started diving last autumn and haven't gone down that much because it's been the winter,' said Randy Champion, vice president of the Utah-based company.

    'We have just scratched the surface,' he added. 'All of the stuff we've found is just from mucking about really.'

    Although the team haven't officially confirmed which ship they are diving, Mr Champion said they had a pretty fair idea - but were keeping quiet for now.

    'If it's the ship we think it is, she probably went down in a hurricane,' Mr Champion said.

    'We have looked at the prevailing currents and wind directions in archives and found a cannon and ballast stone on the wreck that was all going in the wrong direction.

    'That suggests it was probably a hurricane as winds go counter clockwise.'

    The Blue Water Marine team believe this ship was heading back to Spain with a haul of newly minted coins.


  • ORRV enters into joint venture agreement with the Mares Del Sur association

    From News Channel 5

    Oceanic Research and Recovery Inc., a marine salvage and exploration company, today announced that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with the Mares Del Sur Association to pursue shipwreck projects in Peru.

    This project will focus on working in partnership with Mar Del Sur Association, a Peruvian based organization dedicated to locating and recovering Colonial era Spanish galleons lost along the coast.

    Named Southern Cross, the venture is due to begin in the late May to early June timeframe.

    During the colonial years of 1550 to 1800 what was then the Viceroyalty of Peru was one of the richest of Spain's possessions in the New World.

    Tons of silver and gold regularly shipped out of Peru on board ships of the South Seas Armada which transported the vast wealth to Panama where it was then shipped across the isthmus and put on board ships bound for Spain.

    "Southern Cross has been in development for almost three years," said Scott Heimdal, CEO of ORRV. "This is only one of the exciting developments that will be announced in the coming weeks."

  • The Black Swan Conspiracy

    By Lloyd Sowers - My Fox Tampa Bay

    It's one of the richest overnight arrivals at any airport, anywhere, ever -- bucket after bucket, filled with 17 tons of silver and gold coins.

    "It took an entire 757 to transport all of the coins back to the United States. Every square inch, including every seat of the plane, had a bucket of coins belted in," said Mark Gordon, Chief Operating Officer of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

    Now, for the first time, they show what's inside one of the buckets: it's a clump of coins, fused together by two hundred years on the bottom of the sea.

    One bucket contains about a hundred coins. Gordon shows it, saying it's one of the smaller ones.

    "We actually picked up coins from the Black Swan site in clumps of a thousand and three thousand coins," Gordon explained.

    "Black Swan" is Odyssey's code name for the treasure , found in deep international waters off Gibraltar. Spain believes it was their Spanish Galleon Mercedes that sunk in 1804, carrying a fortune.

    The discovery set off a firestorm.. Spain seized odyssey's ship, and arrested the captain. But by that time, the treasure was in Tampa, leaving Spain to battle for the booty in U.S. federal court.

    That's when Gordon became suspicious of the government.

    "We've known for a long time something didn't seem right, that the U.S. government was intervening in the Black Swan case in a way that was very prejudicial," he said.

    Then, the secrets were revealed by Wikileaks: there were transcripts of conversations between U.S. and Spanish officials, discussing the find off Gibralter, the Tampa Admiralty Court, and also a painting.

    Gordon believes they were making a deal.

    "That the U.S. government was actually working with the Spanish government to try to orchestrate a trade," he said.

    A trade where U.S. officials would help Spain get the treasure if Spain would return a $20 million painting, long sought-after by a well-connected American family. It was stolen from their grandmother in Europe more than 60 years ago by Hitler's storm troopers.

    "If people told me there was a movie coming out featuring sunken treasure, trading for Nazi art, government interference in a business, you would think it's beyond fiction, but it's reality here," Gordon said.

    The coins themselves contain yet another twist: it's where they came from in the first place.

  • Secrets of the deep

    By Emily Landau - Walrus Magazine

    At 40 metres long and 540 tonnes, the Chameau was a powerful frigate, designed to carry people and goods to New France and take natural resources back to Europe.

    She was a fast ship but a cranky one; when the weather got bad, she would toss like a toy boat in a bathtub.

    On her final voyage, the Chameau was carrying approximately 100,000 livres in gold, silver, and copper — along with 316 passengers, including the newly appointed intendant of New France.

    As she approached the coast of Nova Scotia in August 1725, a southeast wind rocked the waters. By nightfall, a squall had brewed, thrashing the vessel. It plunged into a reef, where it broke apart and sank into the depths. There were no survivors.

    Most perished in the storm; those who didn’t were either consumed by the undertow, or died from exhaustion after washing ashore near the fort town of Louisbourg.

    In 1961, twenty-three-year-old Louisbourg transplant Alex Storm was thumbing through a history of his adopted home, by then a fishing community.

    His interest was piqued by the story of the Chameau. A recent émigré from Indonesia, where his family had been imprisoned in Japanese-run internment camps during World War II, he had settled in Nova Scotia and volunteered for a position aboard the Marion Kent.

    Taking advantage of the circumstances, he dove near Chameau Rock, the ostensible site of the wreck, and came upon a cluster of some twenty cannons, strewn alongside anchors and guns.

    “It was a solemn moment, because I knew that no one had seen it since the night when the ship wrecked,” he recalls from his home nearby.

    But the expedition yielded more than history: glinting among the ruins was a single silver four-livre piece, embossed with the year 1724 and a portrait of King Louis XV.

    The coin was a small discovery, but one that set Storm on a mission to find the rest of the Chameau’s loot. He took a job with an underwater archaeologist and, in his spare time, familiarized himself with eighteenth-century ships, and gathered weather reports and ocean current data from the night the Chameau went down.

    He assembled a team of divers, and in 1965 located the ship’s final resting place.

    There, along the gully and the cracks in the bedrock, Storm found his treasure: over 2,000 gold louis d’or coins and more than 11,000 silver livres, which later sold for untold millions at auction.

  • Local Utah company discovers Caribbean shipwreck

    Coins and artifacts

    By Matt Hopkins - KSL

    A Midvale, Utah based underwater exploration and recovery company, Deep Blue Marine, Inc., has discovered what they believe to be the oldest colonial shipwreck in the Caribbean.

    "We have found a shipwreck that we can definitively date back to 1535," Deep Blue Marine CEO Wilf Blum said. "We have also found artifacts that are still in the Dominican Republic that date back to the pre-Columbian era. When you think about that, this is significant.

    This shipwreck is just a few years after Columbus and it is the single oldest shipwreck ever found in the Caribbean. We think this is something noteworthy."

    Deep Blue Marine, Inc. has built a relationship with the government of the Dominican Republic and has secured a contract with the sub-aquatic ministry.

    This specific discovery has been named after the captain of the ship, Capt. William Rawson. Rawson's wreck is one of many sites the company is currently exploring.

    "We have a contract which includes, I think, about 42 miles of coastline," Rawson said. Our contract allows us to keep 50 percent of all artifacts recovered, and right now we have 13 wrecks that we are currently working."


  • Odyssey hunts nazi-torpedoed ship's $260 million of silver

    SS Gairsoppa

    From San Francisco Chronicle

    Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., the ocean salvager featured in the Discovery Channel series "Treasure Quest," is trying to recover silver valued at as much as $260 million by October from a ship torpedoed by a Nazi submarine in 1941.

    The Tampa, Florida-based company was awarded a contract by the U.K. government last year that would allow it to keep about 80 percent of the bullion treasure of the S.S. Gairsoppa, a cargo steamer sunk by a German U-boat off the Irish coast. There's an estimated 4 million to 7 million ounces at the shipwreck site, according to Odyssey President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Gordon.

    "This is the year we're going to go out and find it," Gordon said in an interview. He said the cost of the search would be less than $10 million. "The total survey and recovery costs will be a fraction of the value," Gordon said.

    Odyssey aims to salvage Gairsoppa's cargo from beneath as much as 14,000 feet (4,270 meters) of water amid surging prices for silver, which has more than doubled in the past year, and gold, which rose to a record last week.

    The company recovered 17 tons of gold and silver coins in 2007 in an Atlantic Ocean operation it codenamed Black Swan.

    It also plans to hoist treasure from at least five other ships, including HMS Sussex, which sank in 1694 near Gibraltar and may hold gold that the New York Times has estimated is valued at as much as $4 billion.

    "We've got a buy rating on the stock; it's what we call a big idea," Mark Argento, a Minneapolis-based analyst at Craig- Hallum Capital Group LLC, said in a telephone interview. "It's got biotech-type returns without the massive upfront capital. The next few months should prove interesting."

    Odyssey climbed 32 cents, or 12 percent, to $3.06 at 4:30 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. The shares have more than doubled in the past 12 months.

    Odyssey's other salvaging targets include HMS Victory, which sank off England in 1744 carrying 100,000 ounces of gold, and the Enigma, Shantaram and Firebrand, three merchant ships estimated to have cargoes worth at least $50 million each, Gordon said.

    "We're probably the most excited we have ever been," Gordon said of the 17-year-old salvaging company that was featured in the Discovery series in 2009. "We have more projects at relatively late stages than we've ever had in the history of the company."

    Depending on the weather, hunting for the Gairsoppa may start as early as May using sonar, metal detectors and undersea robots, Gordon said. The wreck's condition will help determine how quickly the cargo can be extracted, he said.

    Odyssey has also signed deals to mine the South Pacific sea floor. Companies such as Nautilus Minerals Inc., Neptune Minerals Plc and an AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. joint venture are seeking gold, copper and silver deposits with technology adapted from deep-water oil exploration.

  • Huddersfield diver Sean Ryan finds buried treasure in English Channel

     Some of the coins and cutlery found by diver Sean Ryan

    From Huddersfield Daily Examiner

    He has been working in the murky seas around Britain’s coast for 25 years. But now commercial diver Sean Ryan, of Huddersfield, has struck gold – quite literally!

    The 45-year-old from Crosland Moor has found a hoard of buried treasure. Okay, it may not be a rotting wooden chest full of gold doubloons and goblets.

    But the haul of coins, cutlery and medals he uncovered 120 metres down on the sea bed of the English Channel is worth a few thousand pounds.

    And it brought a touch of excitement to the daily life of Sean, who is working on a seabed exploration project for an oil company.

    Some of the coins he brought to the surface are thought to be Victorian, while other material salvaged includes several gold rings, brooches and pins.

    Intriguingly, there was also a medal inscribed to the Yorkshire Riflemen, who were predecessors of the Prince of Wale’s Own regiment of Yorkshire, now part of the Yorkshire Regiment.

    “It was a wonderful moment” said Sean, of Crosland Moor.


  • Underwater exploring is banned in Brazil

    By Marlise Simons - The New York Time

    A dispute between the Brazilian Navy and an American marine archeologist has led Brazil to bar the diver from entering the country and to place a ban on all underwater exploration. 

    The dispute involves Robert Marx, a Florida author and treasure hunter, who asserts that the Brazilian Navy dumped a thick layer of silt on the remains of a Roman vessel that he discovered inside Rio de Janeiro's bay. 

    The reason he gave for the Navy's action was that proof of a Roman presence would require Brazil to rewrite its recorded history, which has the Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral discovering the country in 1500.

    The Brazilian Navy has denied that it covered up the site and has in turn charged Mr. Marx with "contraband" of objects recovered from other wrecks in this country.

    Because of this, Navy officials said, the Government had issued an order "to prohibit him from entering Brazil."

    To substantiate these charges, the Brazilian officials showed a catalogue of an auction held in Amsterdam in 1983 in which, they said, gold coins, instruments and artifacts removed from shipwrecks in Brazil were offered for sale on behalf of Mr. Marx and his associates. The officials said many of these objects had not been reported on the divers' inventory, contrary to an agreement with Mr. Marx.

    'Don't Bother Me'

    Several attempts to give Mr. Marx the opportunity to respond to these charges were unsuccessful. One phone call ended abruptly when Mr Marx said, "Don't bother me," and then hung up.

    All other permits for underwater exploration and digging, a prolific field in Brazil, have been canceled as a result of the Marx controversy and none will be issued until Congress passes new legislation, Navy officials said. Although the decision was taken a year ago, it was not publicized and only became known as a result of new inquiries into the Marx case.

    The ban has affected a number of projects in Brazil's harbors and along its 4,600-mile coastline. Mainly foreign diving teams have discovered a panoply of gold and silver objects, but most of the sites, though known, remain unexplored.

    In Guanabara Bay of Rio de Janeiro, more than 100 English, French and Portuguese shipwrecks lie unexplored like the pages of an unread, underwater history book.

    But few spots seem to have aroused as much interest and intrigue here as the remains of a ship that struck a reef some 15 miles inside Rio de Janeiro's bay.


  • Shipwreck mystery unfolds

    By Wayne Ayers - Tampa Bay Newspapers

    Claims by a local treasure hunter that there is a century-old shipwreck off our shores got a boost from a former diver in the area.

    “I’ve seen that wreck,” said Joe Mecko, of Madeira Beach, after reading a story on the subject in the Beach Beacon.

    The article told about Jim Leatherwood’s discovery of shipwreck artifacts while metal detecting on the beach in Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores. Leatherwood said he believed his finds were the remains of an as-yet-undiscovered shipwreck not far offshore.

    The story revived Mecko’s memory of a dive he made a few years back. He was searching for a friend’s boat that had gone down. Mecko, who was a charter boat captain at the time, said sunken boats often make ideal reef material that attract fish.

    The fiberglass boat he was looking for was missing, except for its anchor.

    “I followed the anchor rope,” Mecko said, “and at the end I saw metal spikes sticking out of the ground.”

    The spikes were standing straight up in the sand, over a dark area, he recalled. There was no rock exposed, only sand. The location was about 10 to 15 miles offshore from Indian Rocks Beach, in about 40 to 60 feet of water.



  • Divers find rare bell off St. Augustine coast

    Ship's bell

    From First Coast News

    Their excitement rang through every word.  They had found a ship's bell, one of the most rare discoveries off the coast. 

    Divers from LAMP at the St. Augustine Lighthouse were on a routine site check of a shipwreck when Dr. Sam Turner saw what he described as a "horizontal shadow."

    "And it was a bell," said Dr. Turner. "There was no mistaking it. I mean, there was stuff encrusted onto it, but it was very clearly a bell."

    Employees with LAMP said only two bells have ever been recovered off the First Coast.

    "The bell is traditionally known as the diver's holy grail," explained Chuck Meide, Director of LAMP.

    "That's because a ship's bell is extremely rare and also, a ship's bell is often the best clue to the identity of a shipwreck."

    Crews spent time Sunday removing some of the concretion that covered the bronze bell after years of sitting below the surface.

    They had hoped to find a date or a maker's mark on the metal that would help them figure out the name of the ship.

    However, with about 75 percent of the surface cleared, there was no clue to help them determine the ship's identity.


  • A life spent underwater

    A silver spoon recovered from the wreck of the Loch ArdPhoto Robin Maguire

    By Jeremy Lee - ABC South West Victoria

    Peter Ronald loves diving. His face lights up when he talks about the sensation of flying and the joy of discovery and exploration in the underwater world, and the results of his exploring have been on display in Warrnambool for many years now.

    Born in Terang, Peter came from a great swimming family - his dad taught him (and most of Terang) to swim which led to snorkling and spearfishing, along with a great familiarity with the local coastline and its history, including the many shipwrecks here in the south west.

    By the 1970s he was exploring those shipwreks in detail and beginning the process of recovering artefacts.

    Peter says his feeling was always that the artefacts belonged to 'public hands and public display' - and as the concept of Flagstaff Hill emerged in the mid 70's, he thought it would be the perfect home for these objects.

    The lack of legal protection for shipwrecks in the 1970s made the recovery dives all the more important as much of what was there was being taken, looted, and sold as scrap to be melted down. Many artefacts were lost as a result.

    Flagstaff Hill and one of Peter's greatest finds - the Schomberg diamond - played a crucial part in getting the legislation changed to protect shipwrecks.

    The diamond was shown to Sir Rupert Hamer who was visiting Flagstaff Hill. When Sir Rupert asked why it wasn't on display, he was told that if people knew where it had come from the potential for looting would dramatically increase. As Peter puts it, Sir Rupert 'got it', and the legislation to protect the shipwrecks followed fairly swiftly.

    Since then, the salvaging of items has been much more tightly controlled with many factors coming into play including the state and rarity of the item and the real value of bringing it to the surface.


  • UNEXSO divers uncover a mystery from the 'Papa Doc'

    By Eddy Raphael - Bahamas Islands Info

    For centuries, the world has had a fascination with shipwrecks and buried treasure. To this day, undiscovered artifacts and preserved relics of the past hide in the deep reluctantly awaiting the moment where they will be rediscovered by mankind.

    When the dive team at Bahamas Dive shop UNEXSO (Underwater Explorers Society) goes diving, there is always a hope of seeing that extraordinary ‘something’ to remember the dive by; a true ‘one for the story books’.

    That is exactly what happens when one finds buried treasure, as scuba instructor Jim Bader found out when he rediscovered a WW2 Rifle Bayonet at a dive site called ‘Papa Doc’, named after the Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier, who died in 1971.

    ‘It was just there, peeking out at me’ Jim recounts, ‘I felt a rush all over and realized that I just got lucky’. The bayonet had somehow worked it’s way up and out of the sand, probably due to hurricanes, storms and surge, slowly revealing the tip, until it was noticeable.

    A few hours of research and some phone calls had confirmed the terrific find as a rare 16 inch 1943 WW2 M1 Garand United States Army Rifle Bayonet, made in Springfield MA, by Wilde Tools.

    Over the years, the odd bullet has been recovered, but nothing as exciting as this.



  • Coast a 'graveyard' of lost ships

    By Wallace McKelvey - Delmarva Now

    For beachcombers, Delmarva's waterways are delivering constant reminders of a bygone era.

    The artifacts that have washed ashore from long-forgotten shipwrecks -- everything from button covers to Buddha statues -- hold both historical and mythic value to collectors like Bill Winkler of Ocean View.

    "The history is more important than a piece of pottery or glass bottles," he said. "Literally tons, as in 2,000 pounds per ton plural, have been collected over the past 100 years."

    Although not all the items can easily be traced to a particular wreck, given the daunting number of ships lost offshore since the days of the first 17th century settlers, Winkler said they all tell a story.

    Now, at least part of the region's sunken history is being told through a map of the Shipwrecks of Delmarva commissioned by National Geographic.

    Don Shomette, who's written volumes of literature about nautical history, was tasked with culling the 7,000 known shipwrecks to the 2,200 featured on the map. Based on predictive modeling, he said between 10,000-12,000 wrecks are believed to lie on or beneath the sea floor.

    The region's waterways rival the Outer Banks of North Carolina as the "graveyard of lost ships," he said.

    "It was an embarrassment of riches," he said. "There were so many important sites, and a number of them couldn't be included."

    The process of selecting the sites to be included took more than a year itself, Shomette said.

    He and cartographer Robert Pratt made the selections based on cultural and historical relevance, as well as diversity. Revolutionary War-era privateers exist alongside 1850s paddle steamers, Navy submarines and modern pleasure cruisers.

  • Divers say they’ve found wreck of Oliver Hazard Perry’s ship off Westerly

    By Tom Mooney - Projo

    A team of Connecticut scuba divers say they’ve discovered off the Westerly coast the wreck of a ship once commanded by Rhode Island naval war hero Oliver Hazard Perry, whose actions helped the United States defeat the British during the War of 1812.

    It was after the naval victory at Lake Erie in September 1813 — during which Perry had one ship founder beneath him before transferring to another and continuing the battle — that his message to his commanders would become immortalized: “We have met the enemy and they are ours ...”

    Now, divers Charles Buffum and Craig Harger say Perry would have never been at the Battle of Lake Erie had his schooner not sunk off the reefs of Watch Hill.

    Buffum, the owner of a Pawcatuck brewery, declined to name the ship they’ve discovered until a planned announcement Friday afternoon in Westerly.

    But local marine archeologists, who have heard of the find, identified the vessel as the Revenge, a schooner that sank on Jan. 8, 1811 –– exactly 200 years ago Saturday.

    Rhode Island marine archaeologist D.K. “Kathy” Abbass wrote a history of Rhode Island’s early navy for the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., and is leading much of the underwater mapping of sunken ships in Rhode Island waters. She is familiar with the Revenge.

    She says it’s a “long stretch” to say, as the divers have, that the vessel’s sinking “changed the course of U.S. history” merely because Perry ended up on Lake Erie two years later.

    Further, because of how the Revenge sank –– and the likelihood that hundreds of other wooden vessels have fallen victim to the rocks and rip currents in the area known as The Race — she wonders if the divers have definitive proof they’ve found the Revenge.

  • Booty-laden sunken vessel found in Mentawai waters

    By Irwan Firdays - The Jakarta Globe

    A sunken ship that may be several centuries old and contain gray and green ceramics has been found off the Mentawai Islands, officials said on Thursday.

    Fishermen who found the vessel believe the Oct. 26 tsunami, which killed more than 500 people there, lifted the 7-meter long ship from the sea floor and pushed it closer to shore, said Yosmeri, West Sumatra’s maritime and fisheries agency chief.

    For centuries, wooden ships laden with ceramic pots, golden necklaces and valuable spices navigated Indonesian waters, a key trade route linking Asia with Europe and the Middle East.

    Hundreds are said to litter the seabed off West Sumatra.

    The pots, jugs and bowls found last week still need to be tested to determine their origin and age, Yosmeri said.

    But he added that they were similar to 14th-century artifacts found inside sunken Chinese vessels.

    Local fisherman say they found the wooden ship after spotting its mast 6 kilometers from the beach off Pagai Island, hardest hit by the October tsunami.

    They dove into the water and emerged with several well-preserved jugs and pots found in the hull, which they said was laden with more treasures.

    Pictures of the artifacts have been sent to Jakarta and teams will be sent to the area soon to carry out a more extensive search, according to Yosmeri.

  • Buried treasure in Baltic has vintage taste

    Champagne from the BalticPhoto Alex Dawson

    By John Tagliabue - The New York Times

    When Christian Ekstrom, a local diver, finally got to explore a sunken two-masted schooner he had known about for years, he found bottles, lots of bottles, so he brought one to the surface.

    “I said, ‘Let’s taste some sea water,’ ” he said with a laugh, over coffee recently. “So I tasted it straight from the bottle. It was then that I noticed, ‘This is not sea water.’ ”

    Mr. Ekstrom, 31, a compact man with a shock of blond hair, brought the bottle to experts in this town of 11,000 on Aland Island, which lies midway between Finland and Sweden, then to others in Sweden and finally in France.

    Though the bottle had no label, burned into the cork were markings that made clear it was a bottle of Juglar, a premium French Champagne that ceased to be sold under that name after 1830, when it was renamed Jacquesson, for another of the winery’s owners.

    It remains one of the smaller but finer producers of French Champagnes.

    “You could still see the bubbles, and see how clear it was,” Mr. Ekstrom said.

    The 75-foot wreck, in 160 feet of water, contained other cargo as well: crates filled with grapes, long withered; carpets; coffee beans; spices including white and black pepper and coriander, and four bottles of beer.

    Not including the bottle Mr. Ekstrom swigged from, the divers soon discovered a cargo that numbered 172 bottles of Champagne.

    Four were broken, but 168 others were intact, and in early August they were hoisted to dry land and stored in Mariehamn. The Baltic Sea floor proved an ideal wine cellar, with 40 degree temperatures, total darkness and enough pressure to keep the corks in.

    Getting help in recognizing the find was not easy. “It was quite tricky to get someone to listen,” Mr. Ekstrom said. When he contacted Veuve Clicquot, one of the largest French Champagne houses, in search of expertise, a voice on the phone said, “It’s a fantastic story, but I have to ask you, ‘Where is Aland ?’ ” 

    Gradually, word got out to the Champagne world, and this November experts from abroad, including from Jacquesson and Veuve Clicquot, were invited to Aland (pronounced AH-lahnd) to replace the crumbling corks in 10 bottles and for a tasting.

    In the meantime, the Champagne had become the property of the local government, which lays legal claim to anything found in undersea wrecks that is more than 100 years old.

    The first three bottles recorked were Juglar, but on the bottom of the fourth cork were the star and anchor of Veuve Clicquot. The star represents a comet that crossed the skies of Champagne in 1811 and supposedly caused fabulous vintages. “I thought, ‘Madame Clicquot is watching us,’ ” Mr. Ekstrom said.

    At another recorking, further bottles of Veuve Clicquot appeared. François Hautekeur, a Veuve Clicquot winemaker who attended, pointed to the name Werle branded into the bottom of the cork, referring to Édouard Werle, the man who in 1830 assumed much of the business from the Widow Clicquot, actually Barbe Nicole Clicquot, née Ponsardin, who inherited the company from her husband in 1805 and ran it until her death. “So it is later than 1831,” Mr. Hautekeur said.

    Jean-Hervé Chiquet, whose family now owns and operates Jacquesson, the winery that absorbed Juglar, said that the shape of the bottles and the use of the name Juglar indicated the Champagne was from the late 1820s, and may have been stored for some time before it was shipped.


  • Nelayan Mentawai temukan bangkai kapal kuno pascatsunami

    In Mentawai Island

    Dari Antara

    Nelayan di Pulau Pagai Selatan, Kabupaten Kepulauan Mentawai, Sumatera Barat menemukan bangkai kapal kuno bermuatan barang-barang antik diduga peninggalan abad ke-14 yang terseret ke perairan pantai oleh gelombang tsunami pada 26 Oktober 2010.

    Kapal itu ditemukan nelayan yang tengah menyelam mencari ikan hias di perairan laut pesisir Pulau Sandiang, Kecamatan Pagai Selatan, mentawai, kata Kepala Dinas Kelautan dan Perikanan (DKP) Sumbar, Ir Yosmeri kepada ANTARA di Padang, Selasa.

    Bangkai kapal dengan panjang 20 meter dan memiliki satu tiang utama yang masih utuh itu ditemukan nelayan pada kedalaman 18 meter di bawah permukaan laut, tambahnya.

    Menurut dia, dalam kapal ditemukan sejumlah barang antik berupa keramik dan kendi-kendi kuno peninggalan Dinasti Sun China abad ke-12 sampai ke-14.

    Yosmeri mengatakan, diduga bangkai kapal itu sebelumnya tenggelam di dasar laut Samudra Hindia yang kemudian terseret gelombang tsunami ke perairan laut Pulau Pagai Selatan dan terdampar di bawah laut sekitar Pulau Sandiang.

    Mendapat laporan temuan bangkai kapal itu, DKP Sumbar telah memerintahkan DKP Kepulauan Mentawai melakukan pengamanan di sekitar laut tempat kapal itu ditemukan untuk menghindari aksi pencurian dari pihak-pihak lain, tambahnya.

    Lokasi harus diamankan, karena sesuai ketentuan hukum, keberadaan kapal dan muatannya yang tenggelam di perairan laut Indonesia berada dalam penguasaan negara melalui Departemen Kelautan dan Perikanan RI, tegasnya.

    Ia menyebutkan, pihak DKP Sumbar juga sudah melaporkan ke Dirjen KP3K Departemen Kelautan dan Perikanan RI dan diharapkan pusat segera menurunkan tim ke lokasi.

    Kita harapan tim Dirjen KP3K segera segera mengangkat bangkai kapal dan isinya, sesuai kewenangan pemerintah pusat terhadap keberadaan barang muatan kapal tenggelam, tambahnya.

    Yosmeri mengatakan, sesuai ketentuan barang muatan kapal tenggelam dikuasai negara dan bisa dilelang yang hasilnya masuk ke kas negara.

  • Treasure hunters flock to Minjiang River after bronze plate discovery

    By An Baijie - China Global Times

    A riverside township in Pengshan, Sichuan Province has been swamped with treasure hunters ever since a bronze plate was discovered there. Local government officials said the gold rush is raising concern.

    People have been turning up at the Minjiang River in Jiangkou township, Pengshan, where Zhang Xianzhong (1606-47), the leader of a peasant revolt during the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), sank numerous boats filled with jewelry, the Chengdu-based West China City Daily reported Monday.

    A rumor that a gold plate was found in the riverbed raised interest among local residents. The local cultural relic office clarified that it was just a bronze plate and not gold but that revelation failed to immediately stop the gold rush.

    Liao Mingfang, Party secretary of Shuangjiang village in Jiangkou, told the Global Times Monday that about 300 treasure hunters visited the bank of the Minjiang River every day.

    Liao said some of them have found gold or silver jewelry and they sold them or kept it. "Some villagers could sell a ring or necklace for 50,000 yuan ($7,500)," Liao said.

    "Only three officials from the Pengshan Cultural Relic Bureau came to the riverside to stop the gold searchers, but none of the searchers abided by their orders," Liao said.

    Fang Ming, deputy director at the Pengshan Cultural Relic Bureau, said that it is not confirmed whether there were treasures in Minjiang River of Jiangkou, the report said.

    "However, anyone who find treasures must give them to the cultural relics bureau. Otherwise, they would be held accountable for concealing national cultural relics items," said Fang.

    According to the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics, anyone who refuses to hand over cultural relics could be fined up to 50,000 yuan ($7,499) and the items will be seized.

  • Searching for sunken 16th century ship

    Sheldon Breiner of Portola ValleyPhoto Michelle Le/The Almanac

    By Dave Boyce - Almanac News

    Inductive reasoning. It's what detectives use to work backwards from evidence at a crime scene to develop a chronology of events that, with luck and diligence, will lead to a suspect.

    It's also the modus operandi for Portola Valley resident and geophysicist Sheldon Breiner and a team of archaeologists and a historian who meet periodically along the Mexican coast of Baja California.

    They're investigating the disappearance of a Spanish galleon believed to be the San Felipe.

    The San Felipe left China in 1576 headed for Acapulco by way of Manila with a cargo that included silk, beeswax and tons of Ming Dynasty porcelain.

    Records show the details of the cargo but not the San Felipe's arrival at its destination, and the Spanish were meticulous with their records, Mr. Breiner says in an interview.

    Mr. Breiner spoke about this exploratory adventure at Portola Valley's Historic Schoolhouse on Nov. 16. The town's Nature & Science Committee sponsored the free event and about 20 people showed up.

    Shipments of porcelain left China for Spain twice a year for some 250 years starting in 1565, Mr. Breiner says. There is debris indicating that the 100-foot, 400-ton San Felipe may have run aground off the desert coast of Baja.

    Lying on and under the shifting sands of this corner of Mexico's Sonoran Desert are about 1,000 artifacts. While the researchers haven't yet found any silk, which would have been encased in wax, they have found beeswax, some lead sheeting used on the hulls of 16th century ships to discourage underwater pests, and a great many pieces of porcelain scattered along a two-mile-long line in the sand, Mr. Breiner says.

    Why might the ship have grounded ? Strong prevailing winds, scurvy among the crew of 200, a need for food or water, or a new mast or spar -- the reasons are not known. Had the ship reached Acapulco, its cargo would have been offloaded and hauled overland to the Gulf of Mexico and then shipped to Spain, a two-year to three-year trip altogether, Mr. Breiner says.

    With hundreds of thousands of years of predictable winds, waves and depositions of sand as reference points, the line of debris is readable.

    The team has worked backward from the locations of these artifacts to place the likely remains of the sunken hull. After scanning the area with an ultra sensitive magnetometer, the team now has tracking data showing magnetic anomalies consistent with a buried hull. In short, they have a strong suspicion as to where it is.

    If this anomaly is a sunken galleon, it may never be known for certain whether it is the San Felipe. Ship owners back then did not paint names on hulls, Mr. Breiner says.

    The porcelain can be dated by experts skilled at matching a design with the year in which that design was current.

    Mr. Breiner says he plans to return to the site in February to survey the wreckage in detail and create a grid-based map of the debris field.

    The magnetometer can detect ballast stones, cannon barrels, and iron spikes used to hold the ship's ribs to its keel.

    Other items with a smaller footprint but still detectable include weapons, tools, boxes, furniture parts and personal effects of the crew. The lack of oxygen under the sediment inhibits corrosion.


  • Sea Search Armada seeks rights to 1708 shipwreck and coins worth $17 billion

    Jack Harbeston

    From Coin Link

    Sea Search Armada, a US-based salvage company, claims the Republic of Colombia owes it $4 billion to $17 billion for breaching a contract granting it the right to salvage the galleon San Jose, sunk by the British Navy on June 8, 1708.

    The Spanish galleon San Jose was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships off Colombia on June 8, 1708, when a mysterious explosion sent it to the bottom of the sea with gold, silver and emeralds owned by private Peruvian and European merchants, and lies about 700 feet below the water’s surface, a few miles from the historic Caribbean port of Cartagena, on the edge of the Continental Shelf.

    Jack Harbeston, managing director of the Cayman Islands-registered commercial salvage company Sea Search Armada, who has taken on seven Colombian administrations during two decades in a legal fight to claim half the sunken hulk’s riches.

    “If I had known it was going to take this long, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place,” said Harbeston, 75, who lives in Bellevue, Wash.

    The 41-page federal lawsuit outlines a long, tortuous jpurney through the Colombian courts after the Glocca Morra Co. identified six shipwreck locations, between 1980 and 1985, operating with permission of Colombia’s Direccion General Maritima.

    Harbeston claims he and a group of 100 U.S. investors – among them the late actor Michael Landon and the late convicted Nixon White House adviser John Ehrlichman – invested more than $12 million since a deal was signed with Colombia in 1979 giving Sea Search exclusive rights to search for the San Jose and 50 percent of whatever they find.


  • WikiLeaks cables: Art looted by nazis, Spanish gold and an embassy offer

    Odyssey staff examine coins recovered from the 'Black Swan' shipwreckOdyssey Marine Exploration/AP

    Giles Tremlett - The Guardian

    US officials offered to help Spain claim an undersea treasure haul of gold and silver coins discovered by a controversial American exploration company in return for Spanish assistance in the recovery of valuable art looted by nazi Germany, according to embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

    In a conversation with the Spanish culture minister, César Antonio Molina, the US ambassador in Madrid, Eduardo Aguirre, sought to tie the treasure found off the Iberian peninsula by Odyssey together with attempts by an American citizen, Claude Cassirer, to recover a painting by Camille Pisarro that hangs in a Madrid museum.

    "The ambassador noted also that while the Odyssey and Cassirer claim were on separate legal tracks, it was in both governments' interest to avail themselves of whatever margin for manouevre they had, consistent with their legal obligations, to resolve both matters in a way that favoured the bilateral relationship," the embassy reported in a cable on 2 July 2008.

    The offer was made after the Spanish government claimed ownership of half a million gold and silver coins found on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean by Odyssey's underwater robots.

    The company had provoked Spanish fury by landing the treasure at Gibraltar and flying it straight to the US.

    The so-called Black Swan treasure, which Odyssey said came from an unidentified shipwreck, had been valued at about $500m.

    Molina refused to tie the Odyssey case to the Pisarro painting, according to the embassy. "The minister listened carefully to the ambassador's message, but he put the accent on the separateness of the issues," the cable reported.

    He promised, nevertheless, to meet Cassirer to discuss what could be done about the painting, Pisarro's Rue St Honoré. Après-midi. Effet de Pluie, which currently hangs in the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid.

    In another cable the embassy explained the background to Cassirer's claim. "The Nazis forced Mr Cassirer's grandmother to sell the painting in 1939. Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza acquired it in 1976.

    In the early 1990s, the Spanish government purchased the collection and built the current museum. In 1958, Mrs Cassirer received a DM120,000 restitution payment for the disappearance and provisional dispossession of the painting, but retained full right to the painting."

    The museum has refused to hand over the artwork, claiming that it was bought in good faith. Baron Thyssen had not known the story of Lilly Cassirer, a wealthy German Jew who said she was forced to sell the picture for 900 marks (about $360).

    She said it was the only way she could obtain an exit visa from Germany as Nazi oppression of the Jews escalated.

    The painting of a rain-soaked Paris boulevard had hung on the walls of the family's Berlin and Munich homes since the impressionist painted it in 1897.


  • Treasure hunters pursue U.S. investors seeking golden adventures

    Cannon of the HMS VictoryPhoto Odyssey Marine Exploration

    By David Benoit - The Wall Street Journal

    Spanish doubloons meant to fund wars, solid gold bars bound for Europe's royalty and bronze cannons that protected it all now sit scattered across the ocean floor from shipwrecks.

    But in a new investment plan by Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., those long-ago sunken treasures could soon be part of investor portfolios. The Tampa, Fla., company, whose work has been documented on the Discovery Channel and on the pages of National Geographic, plans to allow investors a chance to purchase a share of a treasure hunt and split the spoils.

    Think of it as a romantic play on all-time highs in gold prices, by tracking Odyssey's ships online instead of tracking price ticks on charts. Or it is a chance to spice up a portfolio by putting down quarterly filings and looking at photos of wreckage.

    Treasure hunting might become more intriguing if gold prices keep soaring. David Beahm, vice president of Blanchard & Co., a dealer of rare coins and gold, said rare coins trade higher than gold bullion. He doesn't recommend the investment, but did acknowledge, "As a child, you always want to find the buried treasure."

    Gold on Friday closed at $1,362.20 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, and hit a record of $1,424.50 in early November.

    To be sure, when the end game is a ship that has been swallowed by the sea for centuries, the risk of coming up empty-handed is high.

    "If you are going to be taking the risk anyway, why not go to a business that's potentially going to have high return?" said Chief Executive Greg Stemm.

    "I could make the case that we've become the best people in the world at finding hard-to-find things at the bottom of the ocean."


  • Rare catch: fishermen find ancient treasure on river bed

    Bakhtemir river

    From RT

    Two fishermen have found more than a kilo of ancient gold jewelry, buried on the bottom of the river. Experts believe the find could be about 2,000 years old.

    The young men said that they had found the treasure while fishing in Bakhtemir river in Russia’s Astrakhan region. What they first though to be just a glittering object, turned out to be an ancient bracelet and necklace.

    ”The catch turned out to be a necklace with a decoration of a lying animal, similar to a cat and a spiral bracelet in the same style. The unconnected ends are topped by gryphon heads,” Astrakhan authorities reported.

    They added that the river’s flow may have destroyed a burial site from between the fourth century BC to the fourth or fifth century AD.

    The fishermen, who handed their valuable catch to the authorities, will receive a reward which could reach up to 50 per cent of the treasure’s estimated cost.

    The evaluation of the jewelry is still to come, while the bracelet and necklace have been handed over to Astrakhan State Museum of History and Architecture.


  • Utah divers bring up a revolutionary war ship

    Deep Blue marinePhoto Deep Blue Marine

    By Lois M. Collins and Kassi Cox - Deseret News

    It is a windy, wicked strip of the Caribbean and the battle is wildly uneven: three English ships hammering the French vessel Le Scipion and its escort, Le Sybille. Still, Le Scipion, only four years old, is a veteran of this Revolutionary War.

    She's fought alongside the upstart Americans in the tide-turning Battle of Chesapeake Bay and later in the Battle of the Saints.

    Although her captain, Nicolas Henri de Grimouard, and 43 of the crew are wounded, another 15 dead, Le Scipion will not back down.

    In the heat of battle, cannonballs flying, the crew manages to rake the 90-gun London, wounding it. Then they race the ship away, into the shelter of Samana Bay, just off the coast of Hispanolia, now the Dominican Republic.

    As he tells the story on a recent October day, Wilf Blum is sketching the treacherous Mona Passage on the whiteboard in his Utah office, punctuating it with dotted lines and trade routes and mad scribbles that oddly contribute to the sense of a frenzied fight.

    There's a chest at his feet and a visitor's quick glance spots photographs and coins and bits of pottery.

    "I get caught up in the story," he says. "Stop me if I go on too long or you get bored."

    Then he dives back into the October 1782 battle. Enemy fire, he says, can't take her down. But a reef can. As Le Scipion moves to drop anchor, she founders, then begins to break apart. There's just time to get everyone off the ship before she disappears into 25 feet of water.

    Nearly 200 years, he says. That's how long she lay there before world-famous diver Tracy Bowden found the ship in 1978. Even then, it would be close to three decades before Le Scipion would get much undivided attention.

    Blum is a "recovery" expert in this most unlikely of places, landlocked Midvale, Utah, headquarters of Deep Blue Marine.

    As he draws pictures and rattles off facts about famous battles and lesser-known ships, the fax machine in the background is spitting out photographs in real time of the items Blum's twin daughters are recovering from the wreckage of Le Scipion: the musketballs and coins, the still-intact vinaigrette and the decorative buttons of the Revolutionary War.

  • Found after 300 years, the scourge of the British navy

    By Cahal Milmo - Independent

    With 25 guns and a plunder-thirsty crew, La Marquise de Tourny was the scourge of the British merchant fleet some 260 years ago.

    For up to a decade, the French frigate terrorised English ships by seizing their cargoes and crew under a form of state-sanctioned piracy designed to cripple British trade.

    Then, in the mid-18th century, the 460-ton vessel from Bordeaux, which seized three valuable cargo ships in a single year and distinguished itself by apparently never being captured by the English, disappeared without a trace.

    Nearly 300 years later, the fate of La Marquise and its crew can finally be revealed.

    Wreckage from the frigate, including the remarkably well-preserved ship's bell carrying its name and launch date of 1744, has been found in the English Channel some 100 miles south of Plymouth by an American exploration company, suggesting that the feared privateer or "corsair" sank with the loss of all hands in a storm in notoriously treacherous waters off the Channel Islands.

    The vessel is the first of its type to be found off British waters and one of only three known around the world, offering a unique insight into a frenetic phase of Anglo-French warfare when both countries set about beefing up their meagre navies in the mid-1700s by providing the captains of armed merchant vessels with "Letters of Marque" to take to the seas and capture enemy ships in revenge for attacks on other cargo convoys.

    The result was an escalating war of commercial attrition during which these privately-owned English and French floating raiders fought each other to a stalemate by seizing more than 3,000 vessels each in a nine year period between 1739 and 1748 as both sides sought to choke off valuable trade with their colonies in America and the West Indies. The proceeds from the sale of a single cargo could be enough to make a corsair's crew rich for life.

    Dr Sean Kingsley, a British marine archaeologist who has studied the remains of La Marquise de Tourny, told The Independent: "It is a rare symbol of the mid-18th century need to fuse business with warfare at a time when naval fleets were small.

    Many sea captains dreamed of finding enemy ships stuffed with treasure and becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams."

    The wreck was first discovered by researchers working for Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration in 2008, but it has taken two years of painstaking archaeological detective work to conclusively establish the identity of La Marquise, not least because the site in the western end of the English Channel has been badly damaged by trawlers.

    Evidence such as the ship's hefty 52kg bell could now be offered on loan to French and British museums.

  • Salvagers get rights to recover historic shipwrecks

    By Bobby Pritchett

    Anchor Research & Salvage, S.R.L. (ARS) has entered into an agreement with the Dominican Republic Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático.

    The contract gives ARS the exclusive rights to explore and archaeologically recover historic shipwrecks along an undisclosed stretch of the Caribbean Sea on the island nation's South coast.

    According to government officials, this is the first time that such a contract has been granted for the area.

    Robert Pritchett, president of ARS, says his company will be working under the direction of the Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático. And professional Marine Archaeologist Dr.Lubos Kordac and Dr E. Lee Spence both have wrote books on the islands shipwrecks

    ARS will be using state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment to survey the contract area, and a specially designed Geographical Information System (GIS) will be used to map discoveries. All of ARS' survey, archaeological, and GIS data will be shared with the government.

    Under a preliminary agreement, ARS has already located a number of shipwrecks threw research & exploration of the lease area,

    For Pritchett and the management of ARS this is a lifestyle, not a job. The members of ARS have dedicated their lives to archaeologically sensitive exploration rescue and preservation of historical shipwrecks.

    ARS' discoveries and other developments will be posted on the company's website at

    Pritchett has been personally funding this project, but now expects to raise additional working capital.

  • Vero Beach team find solid gold bird statue

    1715 Fleet Queens Jewels

    By Tyler Treadway -

    Bonnie Schubert couldn’t believe her eyes when, about 1,000 feet off Frederick Douglass Beach near Fort Pierce, she came face to face with a sold gold statue of a bird that had lain under the Atlantic Ocean exactly 295 years and 15 days.

    “I remember asking myself, ‘Is this real ?’” Schubert recalled Wednesday as the 5.5-inch-tall statue she found Aug. 15 was revealed to the public at her home in the Vero Shores neighborhood of Vero Beach.

    “The Bird,” as it’s come to be known, is real all right.

    So is it’s $885,000 appraised value.

    The statue was aboard one of 11 Spanish ships laden with treasures from the New World that were bound from Havana to the court of King Phillip V before encountering a hurricane July 31, 1715, and sinking off the Treasure Coast.

    Shubert, 49, found the statue as she and her one-person crew — her 87-year-old mother, Jo Schubert — were combing the plot of ocean bottom they’ve been assigned as subcontractors for 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC, a historic shipwreck salvage operation based in Sebastian and Jupiter that acquired rights to the fleet from the heirs of renowned treasure hunter Mel Fisher.

    Bonnie Schubert said she had just started to examine a “hole” where several feet of sand had been blown away when she saw the bird.

    “I got a hit on the metal detector, and I was hand-fanning away some more sand when I saw it just lying there upright in the sand, absolutely perfect and so impossibly gold,” she said.

    “Every time you get a hit on the metal detector, you’re thinking, ‘It’s a gold bar; it’s a silver bar.’ But it’s usually a fishing weight or a beer can.”


  • Treasure hunter finds ancient pistols in Dominican waters

    From Dominican Today

    Hispaniola Ventures, LLC and its funding partner Marine Exploration, Inc. have resumed exploration activities in their contract area off of the north coast of the Dominican Republic.

    Having suspended operations during the hurricane season, their exploration/salvage vessel R/V Hispaniola is active once again.

    During the first week of magnetometer surveys, three new shipwreck sites have been discovered and proofing excavations are being performed in order to determine dating periods and probable nationality.

    While performing underwater metal detector anomaly identification dives, a coral encrusted pair of 18th Century flintlock pistols were discovered fused together, muzzle to grip and grip to muzzle, indicating how they were stored in their carrying case.

    The amazing discovery was made by Burt Webber’s son Kurt Webber.

    Partial cleaning of the brass butt plates have revealed the unique facial images of “The Good” ---- “The Evil”. Webber’s consultation with marine archaeologists and specialists in colonial period weaponry has suggested that this is the first matched set (brace) of pistols ever found on a sunken shipwreck site anywhere in the world.

    It is recommended by conservators that the pistols be professionally cleaned and preserved, remaining fused together thus producing a unique museum display piece.

  • Diving into sunken-treasure investing

    Mel Fisher's Treasures

    By Shelly K. Schwartz - CNBC

    Gold coins, gems and historic artifacts that were lost at sea have captured the imagination of treasure hunters for centuries.

    “As a child, everyone dreams of finding treasure,” says Dr. E. Lee Spence, an underwater archeologist who discovered several historically significant shipwrecks, including the Civil War blockade-runner, Georgiana and the Confederate submarine Hunley. “There’s romance and drama.

    But as an adult most people aren’t going to spend their lives trying to find it.”

    For a minimal investment, though, you can find your own piece of sunken treasure without getting wet. And if you play your cards right, it might even produce a profit.

    “I believe this area is currently undervalued as the prevailing wisdom now amongst archaeologists is to leave shipwreck porcelain in situ (buried), rather than remove it post excavation,” says Costas Paraskevaides, director of, an online marketplace for historic artifacts, including items legally excavated from shipwrecks.

    A number of countries, he notes, including Cambodia, have actually “enshrined this policy” in the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in 2001, “with more likely to follow, including Vietnam.”

    “My own view is that with a reduction in legal salvage operations, those legitimate pieces on the market are bound to appreciate,” says Paraskevaides.

    “Of course, the UNESCO 2001 convention would not cover shipwrecks found in international waters, but the big Chinese wrecks, which are of most interest to collectors as they contain porcelain, are mostly found in the territorial waters of Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.”

    Yi Cao hopes he’s is right. The Beijing native who now lives in Arlington, Va. purchased a 300 year-old shipwreck salvaged plate earlier this year for nearly $400. It was recovered from the Ca Mau wreck off Vietnam. 

    “It’s from the Qing Dynasty and it’s been fairly well-preserved by the water,” says Cao, who plans to purchase additional salvaged plates in the future.

    “This is just a hobby of mine and I do not plan to sell it anytime soon, but I believe the price will appreciate when collectors discover that they are of high quality and there are not as man of them available for sale as they imagine.”


  • Marine Exploration: treasure-laden Solo Dios Gloria

    Burt Webber

    From Market Watch

    Marine Exploration, Inc. and its Joint Venture Partner Hispaniola Ventures, LLC, announces their treasure hunting ship RV Hispaniola has recently left port returning to the site of the shipwrecked Spanish galleon Solo Dios Gloria.

    One of the world's greatest divers, Burt D. Webber Jr., leads the crew as it seeks the sunken trove of gold, silver and jewels rumored to be on the Solo Dios Gloria. Shareholders and investors can expect the Company to issue near term updates and results from the ongoing salvage operations. 

    An early 18th Century Spanish galleon, the Solo Dios Gloria sank off the north coast of the

    Dominican Republic. In late December 2009, the Dominican Republic confirmed Marine Exploration's discovery of artifacts from the ship.

    The 300-plus items included silver coins, jewels, gold jewelry with pearls, a solid gold ring with diamonds, two hand-held bronze cannons, numerous pistols and cannons, guild pewter plates, navigation compasses, plumb lines for measuring depth, a pistol, sword sheaths, ornaments, plates, silverware, sword handles, a device to measure the ship's speed, bronze candlesticks, and a previously discovered bell from 1693 with the phrase 'Soli Deo Gloria'.

    Mark Goldberg, CEO, Marine Exploration states, "The quest continues. Renowned treasure hunter Burt Webber knows well the Dominican Republic waters and has cutting-edge technology aboard the RV Hispaniola. We believe Burt and crew are at the right place at the right time."


  • Indonesia says China interested in shipwreck treasure

    Cirebon underwater treasure

    From AFP

    China has shown strong interest in buying a massive haul of shipwreck treasures found off Indonesia after a final auction Thursday in Jakarta failed to attract a single bidder, a senior official said.

    Like the two previous auctions held by the Maritime Affairs Ministry earlier this year, no investors paid the hefty 16-million-dollar deposit required to bid.

    The auction committee's secretary at the ministry, Aris Kabul, said the Chinese government was interested in the haul salvaged in 2004 off Cirebon, West Java.

    "We held talks with the Chinese government and our plan is to keep these treasures in museums in China and Indonesia," Kabul told AFP.

    "I think it will the best solution so that this rich treasure will be preserved properly by museum experts," he said adding that both countries had not reached any agreement yet as details were still being discussed.

    The collection comprises some 271,000 pieces including rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Persian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to the late 10th century.

    Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans who conducted the salvage operation said it was one of the biggest shipwreck treasures ever found in Asian waters.

    "The Chinese are very interested as this treasure is unique and there are no similar collections in any museums in China," he told AFP.

    He said the investors involved in the salvage operation hoped for a quick solution so they could get their profits.

    "We have taken huge financial risks in the operation and it's logical for us to get our money back soon," he added.

    According to him, the operation cost about 10 million dollars.

  • Fate of War of 1812 shipwreck playing out in U.S. courts

    By Randy Boswell - Postmedia News

    The legal battle over a recently discovered Lake Erie shipwreck — believed to be the storied, Canadian-built brig Caledonia from the War of 1812 — took another twist last week in a New York court as the U.S. salvage company that found the sunken vessel rejected accusations by state lawyers it has “plundered” the wreck site and disturbed human remains.

    The struggle over the fate of the well-preserved wreck — purported to be a 203-year-old troop transport involved in the first British-Canadian victory of the War of 1812 — comes with the clock ticking toward the war’s bicentennial and amid controversial plans to raise the ship for display on Lake Erie’s southern shore near Buffalo, N.Y.

    Thursday’s court hearing before U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara followed a state magistrate’s ruling in May that the wreck should be left preserved on the lake bottom — the position held by state legal and archeological officials.

    But Northeast Research Ltd., the U.S. dive company that found the wreck in 60 metres water about 30 kilometres offshore of Dunkirk, N.Y., appealed the May ruling and asked Arcara to grant a full trial to determine the wreck’s future.

    Northeast co-owner Pat Clyne, condemning the state’s policy of “in situ preservation” as equivalent to leaving wrecks “on the bottom to rot,” told Postmedia News if Arcara grants a trial his company could win the right to raise the wreck and create a major international War of 1812 tourist attraction.

    “We were pleased with the judge’s questions as well as our attorney’s ability to explain why we believe that this historic ship should be raised, conserved and put on display for all to see — and not just for a handful of privileged few,” Clyne said.

    “If the judge’s decision goes our way, we then get our chance to confront the State of New York in court with all of our evidence and extensive research to prove our case.”

    Northeast’s lawyer defended the company’s dives to the wreck as respectful toward the historic artifacts and human remains known to be at the site.

    While several relics were raised and preserved to help identify the ship, and a few bone fragments were inadvertently moved during a dive, Northeast contends its handling of the wreck has been thoroughly professional.

    If the ship on the Erie lake bed is the Caledonia — a 26-metre, two-masted schooner with a richly documented history — it would be discovery of international importance.

    Built in 1807 at a Royal Navy shipyard near present-day Windsor, Ont., the Caledonia was originally owned by the North West Company and used for hauling furs from trading posts around the Great Lakes.

    It was pressed into military service when war broke out between Britain and the U.S. along the Canadian frontier in June 1812.

    Just a month later, the ship carried some 400 troops — British and Canadian soldiers, conscripted fur traders and allied Indian fighters — to U.S.-controlled Michilimackinac Island at the western end of Lake Huron, a strategic prize close to the eastern entrance of Lake Michigan.

    Without a shot being fired, the Americans surrendered the fort — an important event that dashed U.S. expectations of an easy triumph in the war, and largely solidified aboriginal support behind the British.

    But the Caledonia fell into American hands just three months later.


  • Traces of Kolchak’s gold found ?

    Lake Baikal

    By Elena Kovachich - The English Ruvr

    Baikal, the deep-diving manned vehicle Mir-2 has discovered a strange metal thing resembling a bar of gold. Unfortunately, the mini-submarine failed to reach it.

    Using only video recordings, experts will now try to determine whether it can really be the legendary gold of the Russian Empire.

    Since the first stage of the international research expedition at Lake Baikal which started in 2008, its participants have hoped to find the treasure.

    In the autumn of 1919, during the Civil War in Russia, Tsarist Admiral Alexander Kolchak of the White Army was entrusted to transport 500 tons of gold away from Russia. Guarded by the Czech legion, the gold was loaded aboard a train that went along the Trans Siberian Railroad.

    But Kolchak was removed from his post, captured by the Bolsheviks and executed. The fate of the Russian gold remains unknown to this day. Someone believes it was conveyed abroad under the control of the Czech legion. According to another version, the railway was blown up and the gold plunged into Lake Baikal.

    Indeed, the expedition of 2008 discovered carriages dating back to the Civil War period, although they had no gold inside.

    On August 30th the same year, manned bathyscaphes submerged into the lake’s southern part, near the village of Listvyanka to search for any archaeological artifacts related to the so-called Kolchak’s gold, according to deputy director of the Foundation for maintaining Lake Baikal Inna Krylova.

    Found on the collapsed slope of the Circum-Baikal Railway, the artifacts were out of reach due to the area’s moving ground.

    The Mir-2 vehicle therefore failed to approach the discoveries sufficiently close and its manipulator arm couldn’t reach the crevice, where the alleged gold bars were noticed.

  • Lost gold of the Whites found in Baikal

    By Andy Potts - The Moscow News

    Submarines in the depths of Baikal may have solved one of the great mysteries of the Civil War.

    The long-lost gold of White commander Alexander Kolchak could be within reach of submersibles exploring the lake as part of a scientific mission.

    Environmentalists working with the mission told journalists: “Deep-sea vehicles found rectangular blocks with a metallic gleam, like gold, 400 meters below the surface.”

    Local residents say that sunken railway wagons found last year match those used on the Circum-Baikal Railway during the Civil War, fuelling rumours that the Admiral’s lost riches could be nearby.

    And the latest find, on the bed of Cape Tolstoy, has reinforced that hope.

    Doomed admiral

    Kolchak was a hero of the Russian navy in World War I who went on to lead the White resistance to the 1917 revolutionaries.

    For a time he was commander of much of eastern Russia, but he failed to persuade potential allies to support him, perhaps because of his overtly monarchistic politics.

    Ultimately he was executed by the Bolsheviks in Feb. 1920 and his body was hidden under the ice of Irkutsk's Angara river. After that, legends grew up saying a vast horde of wealth had been lost during the chaos of the civil war.

  • Historic champagne cargo retrieved from sea bed

    Photo: Anders Näsman, Erik Saanila ja Jan-Ole Nordlin

    From Yle

    A group of Swedish divers have begun lifting to the surface a sunken consignment of champagne dating from the 1700’s from the seabed in the Åland Islands.

    Diving for the liquid treasure of around 80 champagne bottles started last week.

    The bottles are located in the hull of a vessel that sunk sometime in the eighteenth century.

    Both the vessel and its cargo of champagne are property of the Åland autonomous region. It has not yet decided what to do with the bottles. 

    French experts have tasted the contents and determined it to be champagne.

  • Russian mini-sub finds possible czarist gold

    From VOA News

    Russian authorities say a mini-submarine plumbing the depths of Lake Baikal has found several shiny metal objects that could be evidence of the legendary Czarist gold lost nearly a century ago during the country's civil war.

    Explorers discovered the metal objects - described as resembling gold bullion - 400 meters below Lake Baikal's surface Monday. Attempts so far, however, to pick up the objects with a mechanical arm have failed.

    Explorers have long been hunting for the treasure, some 1,600 tons of gold allegedly carried by the White Army of Admiral Alexander Kolchak as it fled the advancing Red Army during the 1918-1921 civil war.

    The admiral, portrayed in a 2008 Russian film of the same name, led the pro-Czarist White Army against the Bolsheviks after the October revolution of 1917.

    One version of the legendary disappearance has Admiral Kolchak's troops freezing to death in temperatures of of minus-60 degrees Celsius in the winter of 1919-1920 as they fled across the lake with the treasure.

    Under that story line, the imperial gold sank to the bottom of the vast lake, which contains a full 20 percent of the world's fresh water, when the Spring thaw finally arrived.


  • Treasure hunters comb world’s deepest lake

    By RT - Prime Time Russia

    The Russian Empire's lost gold may be buried at the bottom of Lake Baikal. That is the guess of an underwater research expedition, after it caught sight of something shiny.

    Expedition members think they may have found the gold that admiral Kolchak seized during the Civil War almost a century ago. This was part of the country's gold reserve and amounted to more than 180 tonnes of gold.

    All trace of the hoard was lost after a train crash in the region of Lake Baikal. Last year, researchers found the remains of a train carriage. Currently, the deep-water sub "Mir" is exploring the site.

    It is still unclear if the find is the real thing or not. Some believe the gold reserve is being kept in Japanese and British banks. Scientists say there is no evidence that any treasures are hidden in the lake.

    "This would be totally unscientific to comb the whole lake without any proof or documents hinting that the treasure was buried there,” Anatoly Sagalevich, head of the Baikal expedition, was quoted as saying by Izvestia newspaper.

    “In fact, we have found much more than Kolchak’s gold – the giant solid gas hydrate deposits. In the future, these could be used as alternative fuel – without any harm to the lake.”

  • Treasure hunter plans to salvage mercury from wreck

    By Edward D. Murphy  - Kennebec Journal

    Treasure hunter Greg Brooks, who led a trouble-plagued relief mission to Haiti last winter, has set his sights on a salvage job with both business and humanitarian components.

    Brooks, who is from Gorham, wants to put his sea salvage skills to work removing an estimated 16,000 pounds of valuable mercury from a 66-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Maine.

    He contends the mission would defuse a ticking environmental time bomb, though scientists have concluded the wreck is best left undisturbed.

    The federal government prohibits any activity near the ship, but Brooks is hoping he can get the ban lifted. If he does, he would gain access not only to the mercury, but also to other cargo, including what he says is copper-platinum wire worth $200 million.

    The wreck is the Empire Knight, a British freighter that struck an underwater ledge, split in two and sunk in a blizzard near Boon Island, off the coast of York, in February 1944. In 1990, the Coast Guard learned the ship carried 221 flasks of toxic mercury.

    Divers subsequently recovered 1,230 pounds of the mercury and 2,200 pounds of contaminated debris, but determined that another 16,000 pounds of mercury had escaped from the casks and was in a cargo hold near the stern of the ship.

    Officials eventually decided it would be better to leave the mercury alone, concluding that in time, sediment will cover the ship, burying it and its toxic cargo.

    Attempting to remove the mercury, officials said, could result in the mercury escaping into the sea and contaminating the food chain.

    In the late 1990s, as salvage companies tried to stake claims to the wreck, federal officials created an environmental safety zone around it, prohibiting diving, salvage and other activities.

    Brooks thinks it's time to lift the limits and allow him to remove the mercury, via a high-pressure vacuum and filter system. That could also clear the way for him to salvage what he believes is copper-platinum wire that was included in the wartime cargo and could be what he terms "semi-valuable" -- to the tune of $200 million or so.

    Officials have said they believe the wire is copper only and pegged its value at about $1 million in the mid-1990s, although prices for the metal have risen since then.

    Brooks said his research suggests the more valuable wire is aboard and added that he also believes there's a "secret cargo" of coins in the wreck.

    Those coins, he said, could be worth $10 million to $15 million for the metal content alone, and more than that if there are coins that are valuable to collectors -- which is likely, given the age of the wreck.



  • Treasure hunters find gold off coast of Indian River County


    By WPTV Web Team

    Treasure hunting season is well underway in the waters off of the coast of Indian River County.

    Captain Greg Bounds, Brent Brisben, and their team of treasure hunters found a four foot cannon and 22 gold coins just off of the coast of Indian River Shores on Sunday.

    They estimate the coins are worth around $150,000 and date back to 1698. The canon is harder to estimate.

    Brisben and his father bought out part of the territory owned by famed treasure hunter Mel Fisher, the man who discovered 40 tons of silver and gold on the Atocha wreck in the 1980s.

    This is Brisben's first big find since he took over the operation. His group previously found a gold coin and gold locket.

    Finding treasure is not as easy as it might appear. Many days treasure hunters return with nothing but suntans.

    The group has been searching for the Lost Spanish Fleet of 1715 and the Queen's Jewels. These wrecks, and many more, have helped give the Treasure Coast its appropriate nickname.


  • Shipwreck hunters take on project to find plane wreckage

    By Simona Sikimic - Daily Star Lebanon

    Unbeknown to the swarms of bathers who migrate to the nation’s beaches to tan and swim each year, the seemingly calm, clear shores of Lebanon’s 225-kilometer coastline are home to countless shipwrecks that hide valuable clues about thousands of years of human history.

    Beneath the waves also lie the remains of a C-46 Lebanese International Airways (LIA), passenger airliner that crashed mysteriously in 1957, depositing a “considerable amount” of gold onto the ocean floor and killing all 31 passengers on board the Kuwait-bound plane.

    All previous salvage operations to unearth the wreckage have come to nothing, but a high-tech treasure-hunting ship, due to embark from the Port of Beirut shortly, may now finally assemble the missing pieces of the puzzle.

    “The Odyssey” is the world’s preeminent deep-ocean shipwreck exploration vessel and comprises a 40-strong crew made up of archeologists, mechanical experts and scientists. It is equipped with military-made, state-of-the-art sensor and radar technology as well as a Remotely Operated Vehicle, “ZEUS,” a kind of unmanned submarine, which is capable of reaching depths of 2,500 meters and is used for documentation and retrieval.

    “Odyssey has proven its ability as one of the world leaders in underwater search and recovery, and we are very confident that we can succeed where others have failed,” said Aladar Nasser, Odyssey international relations director. “Through our investigations we are able to solve mysteries and piece together the circumstances of the final missions of the crafts.”

    “This project provides an opportunity to explore an aviation mystery which was relatively recent, so we have had an opportunity to cooperate with people that were either witnesses or have been able to provide us with detailed information about the loss – that’s been particularly exciting for us.”

    The fatal incident occurred some 11 minutes after takeoff after a fire reportedly broke out on board, causing the pilot to lose control of the plane. The incident was attributed either to electrical failure or human negligence but the true cause and final location of the crash have never been determined.

    The task of finding the wreckage will not be an easy one and the operation is likely to take several months.

    Contemporary news reports place the plane some 32-kilometers southwest of Rafik Hariri International Airport, but the nature of the crash implies that plane now rests scattered in pieces over a large area, marked with dramatic underwater topography.

    The mission, which will be conducted in cooperation with the Public Works and Transportation Ministry, has been on Odyssey’s radar for nearly 15 years when it was first brought to the company’s attention by friends of the pilot.

    But difficulties in getting the appropriate permission, combined with prior commitments, have prevented the launch until now.

    Founded by deep-ocean shipwreck pioneers and businessmen, John Morris and Greg Stem, Odyssey was born out of a belief that combining good business and sound archeology, termed “commercial marine archeology,” was the only sustainable way of funding long-term exploration.



  • Treasure hunters won in court to harvest Spanish wealth

    By Cammy Clark - The Miami Herald

    In 1985 aboard the Dauntless salvage boat, Jimmy Buffett sang atop a stack of silver bars while treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his crew swilled champagne to celebrate their jaw-dropping discovery. 

    After 16 years that included a U.S. Supreme Court victory and the death of his son, Fisher's dream had come true.

    In waters 55 feet below them, divers Andy Matroci and Greg Wareham had found a virtual reef made of chests full of silver coins, silver plates, silver bars, copper ingots, stone ballast and artifacts.

    It was the $450 million mother lode of the 1622 shipwreck, Nuestra Senora de Atocha.

    At sea, the crews of the J.B. Magruder and Dare salvage boats continue to search along the 10-mile trail of the Atocha wreck for the rest of the Spanish galleon's buried booty - and a chance to complete the odyssey of the master salvage man, who died in 1998.

    "We're looking for the stern castle, where there's another 400 silver bars and over 130,000 silver coins," said Sean Fisher, Mel's grandson, who was 7 when the treasure was found.

    Fisher, who inherited some of his grandfather's charisma and enthusiasm, added: "The stern castle is also where the church kept its gold and its taxes, and we don't know how much that was because the church was more powerful than the state. The church didn't have to say what they were bringing on the ship."

    Also left off the manifest and missing: about 60 pounds of emeralds from the Muzo mines of Colombia.

    Fisher said the gems, believed to have been smuggled on board in a 70-pound keg, are among the unknown amount of contraband sneaked aboard the Atocha to avoid the Spanish king's 20 percent tax.

    The Atocha was the flagship of a 28-ship fleet traveling from Havana to Spain in early September 1622. Less than 48 hours into the six- to eight-week journey, a hurricane blew the Atocha and its sister ship, the Santa Margarita, into the reefs.

    The heavy treasure of the Atocha remained where it sank, but subsequent storms scattered parts of the Atocha along a 10-mile long, 300-yard wide trail that split into two branches at about the halfway point.

    The J.B. Magruder was anchored at a site nicknamed Emerald City, where nearly 7 pounds of the precious gems have been found. It is close to where the mother lode was found, in the Marquesa Keys, about 35 miles southeast of Key West.

    The Dare was a few miles away, in the middle of the trail at a site dubbed the Bank of Spain, where thousands of silver coins have been discovered.

    The two sites have been worked over. Still, the crews revisit them three weeks a year, when many of the 150 current investors are in town, because there's still a good chance of finding emeralds and silver coins, Fisher said.

    The investors help foot the treasure hunting operating costs of about $3 million a year.

    Most of the time, however, the crews are searching for the stern castle - the back of the Atocha, where the wealthy noblemen, the clergy and the captain kept their valuables.

    The crews include another Fisher grandson, Josh Fisher, 28. Jose "Papo" Garcia, who used to treasure-hunt in his native Cuba, captains the Dare, and Matroci, one of the two divers who found the treasure , helms the J.B. Magruder.




  • Diving ban imposed on Champagne Wreck

    From Yle

    The provincial government of the Åland Islands has imposed a ban on diving in the area where a team of divers earlier this month found what could be the world's oldest drinkable champagne.

    The Finnish Coast Guard is patrolling the area to keep prevent any unauthorized dives of the 18th century wreck. The ban in a 30 square kilometre zone is to be in effect until the end of December, according to an online report by the newspaper Ålandstidningen.

    The paper added that the provincial government is considering if any other measures are needed.

    The wreck, which is at a depth of 55 metres, is in good condition and contained a number of intact bottles.

    Christian Ekström, who headed the team that discovered the cache, guessed they might contain champagne. He took one with him to help identify the age of the wreck. The shape of the bottle indicates that it is from the 1780s.

    Opening the bottle, Ekström found that it tasted it like champagne. He offered tastes to several wine experts, who were highly impressed.

    Not only the champagne may be valuable, the well-preserved wreck itself may be protected.

    Under an earlier court decision, wrecks and their contents discovered in the waters of Åland, the semi-autonomous maritime province off Finland's south-west coast, are the property of the provincial government.

  • Bronze cannon from 1715 shipwreck found

    The Gold Hound crew with their latest find

    From South Florida Business Journal

    Shipwreck salvage company Gold Hound LLC has found a bronze cannon with 63 gold and silver coins concealed inside, the company said Monday.

    The cannon is part of the 1715 Treasure Fleet that sunk off Sebastian nearly 300 years ago. Inside were 25 colonial Spanish gold coins and 38 silver coins, but 22 more gold coins were found alongside, according to a news release.

    The bronze swivel cannon was used to fend off pirate enemies on the treasure ships' ill-fated journey back to King Philip V in Spain.

    The cannon was encrusted from lying hidden in the depths for centuries, and during its conservation, it suddenly let loose its of gold and silver, with an estimated value of more than $500,000, the company said.

    "We found treasure within the treasure. This is right out of 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' except this is the real thing,” said Capt. Greg Bounds, of Sebastian-based Gold Hound, in the news release. “For centuries, there has been talk of treasure possibly hidden inside of cannons, but up ’til today, that was only pirate lore. Now, it’s the real deal.”

    The cannon was discovered in less than 15 feet of water about 40 miles north of West Palm Beach.

    Gold Hound is a subcontractor for 1715 Fleet-Queen’s Jewels LLC, which acquired salvage rights to the fleet from the heirs of treasure hunter Mel Fisher. Queens Jewels, also based in Sebastian, was founded by William Brisben, who previously led a national Cincinnati-based real estate development firm before serving seven years as the U.S. representative to UNICEF under President George W. Bush.

    Among the gold coins was an extremely rare 1698 Cuzco mint coin from a Peruvian mine that operated for just four months, adding to the importance and value of the coin, the news release said. Historians have struggled for decades to unearth more information about the mine, of which little is known.

    The remaining gold coins appear to be primarily from Bogotá, Colombia, referred to as “Bogie 2s” for their denominations, the news release said. The silver coins, subject to further identification, likely originate from mines in Mexico and Bolivia.


  • Divers find 230-year-old champagne in Baltic shipwreck

    From Focus-Fen

    Divers have found bottles of champagne some 230 years old on the bottom of the Baltic which a wine expert described Saturday as tasting "fabulous," AFP reports.

    Thought to be premium brand Veuve Clicquot, the 30 bottles discovered perfectly preserved at a depth of 55 metres (180 feet) could have been in a consignment sent by France's King Louis XVI to Russian Tsar Peter the Great.

    If confirmed, it would be by far the oldest champagne still drinkable in the world, thanks to the ideal conditions of cold and darkness.

    "We have contacted (makers) Moet & Chandon and they are 98 percent certain it is Veuve Clicquot," Christian Ekstroem, the head of the diving team, told AFP.

    "There is an anchor on the cork and they told me they are the only ones to have used this sign," he added.

    The group of seven Swedish divers made their find on July 6 off the Finnish Aaland island, mid-way between Sweden and Finland, near the remains of a sailing vessel.

    "Visibility was very bad, hardly a metre," Ekstroem said. "We couldn't find the name of the ship, or the bell, so I brought a bottle up to try to date it."

    The hand-made bottle bore no label, while the cork was marked Juclar, from its origin in Andorra. According to records, Veuve Clicquot was first produced in 1772, but the first bottles were laid down for ten years.


    Diver Christian Ekstrom described the flavour of the champagne as 'fantastic'


  • Team of treasure hunters strike gold off Florida coast

    By Lamaur Stancil - TCPalm

    A team of treasure hunters struck gold once again Sunday off the coast of Indian River County.

    A boat crew working with Queen’s Jewels of Jupiter Island and Sebastian found 22 gold Spanish coins and a small cannon dating back some 300 years that had sunk into the sand in low-tide water between Wabasso and Vero Beach. The coins could be worth more than $176,000, said Brent Brisben, co-founder of Queen’s Jewels.

    “It’s called the Treasure Coast for a reason,” Brisben said. “It was a sight to see these guys so excited. It’s one of the best days you can have.”

    Queen’s Jewels has teamed with Capt. Greg Bounds of Fellsmere to explore the wreckage area of an 18th century Spanish fleet. Sunday, the crew used a magnetometer in the low-tide area of a beach to determine a large metal object was buried there, Brisben said.

    They used water pressure to burrow into the sand to find the coins and a swivel gun, which is a small cannon often mounted at the rear of the boats, Brisben said.

    Brisben’s company acquired the salvage rights to the sunken ships from the heirs of world-famous treasure hunter Mel Fisher. They have been named federal custodians to the 300-mile wreckage area, he said.

    Bounds, whose boat “Gold Hound” made another discovery last month off the coast of Indian River Shores, is one of about 15 subcontractors who have worked with Fisher’s Treasure Museum in Sebastian.

    The crew used rope to help them pull the 300-pound swivel gun to their boat, Brisben said. After retrieving the swivel gun Sunday, Bounds’ crew took it to the museum, where it is being held in a water tank for preservation. The swivel gun might be donated to the state, Brisben said.


  • Nova Scotia offshore booty to be off limits for commercial treasure hunters

    By Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

    Nova Scotia is putting an end to all underwater commercial treasure hunting along its coast in a move aimed to prevent the loss of the province's marine heritage.

    The government said Wednesday it would introduce legislation in the fall to repeal the Treasure Trove Act.

    Enacted in 1954, the law governs treasure hunting on famed Oak Island on the province's south shore. The scope of the original act was subsequently expanded to cover the licensing of shipwreck salvage operations off the coast.

    Under the current rules, treasure hunters are allowed to keep most of what they find. But they are required to hand over 10 per cent of non-precious artifacts to the province.

    David Salter, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said the intent of the new Oak Island Act is to ensure that everything that is found beneath the sea stays in Nova Scotia.

    He said individuals and groups will still be allowed to dive on wrecks, but only for archeological and historical purposes.

    "Anything that is found would become property of the province," said Salter.

    He said some outstanding licenses would still be granted to applicants who meet policy guidelines for treasure hunting, but that all activities would come to an end Dec. 31.

    Salter couldn't provide a precise figure, but said there aren't any more than a "handful" of outstanding licences.

    The new legislation would incorporate elements of the existing Special Places Protection Act, which carries penalties for those who would remove artifacts without a heritage research permit.

    Under the act, anyone in violation can be fined up to $10,000, while a company can face a fine of up to $100,000. The province also has the authority to seize anything found during an excavation.

    "This just makes it (legislation) more streamlined and clearer that the purpose is essentially to preserve these heritage objects here in Nova Scotia," said Michael Noonan, a spokesman for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.


  • Treasure hunter to work the waters off East Coast resort

    From Dominican Today

    The maritime salvage company Deep Blue Marine, Inc. announced today that under the auspices and existing contract that Puntacana foundation has with the Dominican Government’s Culture Ministry and working under the supervision of the Dominican Navy and an inspector from the Office of the Submerged Patrimony, Deep Blue signed a subcontract agreement to provide services in the area of survey and recovery of artifacts for an undisclosed permitted area. 

    The company- owned dive and recovery vessel "Kerri Lynn" will be on site within days to begin work. Management hopes the boat will be on site for approximately 20 days per month weather permitting.

    Deep Blue Marine, Inc. has been in the recovery business now since January 2006 and has recovered airplanes, modern sunken vessels, industrial equipment and historic ship wrecks.

    The company houses many of its artifacts in a company owned museum located in Samana, Dominican Republic and plans to open similar venues in the country in the near future.

    This is the second contract of this type that the company has entered into. Deep Blue Marine, Inc. remains committed to recovery of historical artifacts and is pleased to be allowed to work in this area.

  • Harta karun di Laut Subang (Treasures from the sea of Subang)

    Dari Suara Karya

    Harta karun barang muatan kapal tenggelam (BMKT| peninggalan era dinasti China ditemukan lagi di Laut Jawa, tepatnya di perairan Belanakan-Subang, Jawa Barat. Sejak awal 2010, pengangkatan BMKT berupa benda antik yang dibuat tahun 1600-an ini sudah mulai dilakukan PT Comexsindo.

    "Diperkirakan, penemuan BMKT kali ini lebih besar dibanding di Laut Cirebon. Selain keramik, memang belum dapat diketahui jenis dan jumlah persis barang muatan yang ada di kapal karam tersebut," kata Dirjen Pengawasan Kelautan dan Perikanan (PSDKP) Kementerian Kelautan dan Perikanan (KKP) Aji Su-larso saat melakukan tinjauan ke kapal tongkang (submarine service) pengangkat BMKT di Subang, Rabu (5/5).

    BMKT peninggalan Dinasti Ming tahun 1600-an telah diangkat pihak Co-mexsindo berupa keramik berjumlah 12.415 unit. Dalam satu hari, diturunkan 22 penyelam untuk mengangkat BMKT tersebut.

    "Mungkin pengangkatan baru selesai dalam kurun waktu beberapa bulan ke depan. Ini mengingat faktor cuaca yang sangat menentukan kece-patan waktu pengangkatannya," kata Aji lagi.

    Lokasi penemuan BMKT terletak pada $ derajat 28-768 lintang selatan dan 107 derajat 53-275 bujur timur dengan kedalaman 50 hingga 54 meter di bawah laut. Pengangkatan BMKT mengusung tema Project Belanakan I.

    Seperti diketahui, ada sekitar 100 lebih pekerja yang berada dalam kapal tongkang, di. mana sekitar 50 persen merupakan operator dan eksekutor pengangkatan BMKT. Sedangkan sisanya merupakan anak buah kapal (ABK) serta petugas pengawas pengangkatan BMKT dari TNI, Polri, KKP, serta Ke-menterian Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata.

    Ketika ditanya mengenai sejauh mana pengawasan yang dilakukan instansi terkait dalam proses pengangkatan BMKT, menurut Aji, semua instansi terkait berada dalam satu kapal dan terus mengawasi kegiatan yang dilakukan para kru pengangkatan BMKT itu.

    Dengan demikian, sangat minim terjadi penyelewengan oleh perusahaan atau oknum pekerja terhadap harta karun BMKT.

    Ini karena semua kegiatan yang dilakukan selalu berada dalam pengawasan ketat, termasuk pada saat penyelaman.

  • Treasure from 1715 fleet found; new stakeholder hopes to bring up more

    Gold doubloons

    By Tyler Treadway - TC Palm

    A gold-rimmed portrait necklace, several gold and silver coins and numerous artifacts from a 1715 Spanish fleet were discovered in about 10 feet of water June 19 just off Indian River Shores in Indian River County.

    The find was announced Monday by a firm based in Jupiter Island and Sebastian that also said it has acquired the salvage rights to the sunken ships from the heirs of world-famous treasure hunter Mel Fisher. The company plans to ramp up recovery efforts.

    In 1715 an 11-ship fleet set sail from Cuba laden with gold bars, coins, diamonds, emeralds and pearls bound for King Philip V of Spain. The bounty included the dowry for Philip’s new bride, Elisabeth, who refused to consummate their marriage until she received it. The ships sank in a hurricane off the Treasure Coast.

    “The ships were blown into the reefs and sank, so they’re relatively close to shore,” said Brent Brisben of Sebastian, who with his father, William Brisben of Jupiter Island, formed Queen’s Jewels.

    The company then bought from Fisher’s heirs the U.S. admiralty custodianship of the 1715 fleet and the right to salvage the wrecked ships.

    The sites of six of the sunken ships have been found, some in only 20 feet of water. But the bulk of the treasure — including the queen’s jewels, estimated to be worth close to $900 million — still hasn’t been recovered.

    Capt. Greg Bounds, whose boat “Gold Hound” made the most recent discovery off the coast of Indian River Shores, is one of about 15 subcontractors who have worked with Mel Fisher Treasure and will continue to work with the Brisbens.