So how do you beat the credit crunch ? Strike gold with a £700m shipwreck

By Claire Smith

An 18th-century warship laden with gold worth an estimated £700 million has been found at the bottom of the English Channel. Marine explorers have discovered the wreck of HMS Victory, the predecessor to Nelson's ship of the same name.

Talks are taking place between the Ministry of Defence and the US company that discovered the ship, over the fate of the gold bullion, the 110 bronze cannons and treasure looted from foreign ships believed to be on board.

Dr Sean Kingsley, a marine archeologist from Odyssey Marine Exploration, which specialises in underwater exploration said: "I think this is the shipwreck of the century. It is more important than the Marie Rose or the Titanic.

"When it was built it was the biggest ship in the world – something people never believed could possibly go down."

The HMS Victory was lost in a ferocious gale in the Channel in 1744. When it sank the ship was carrying four tons of gold coins, a cargo for Dutch merchants from Lisbon.

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OMEX warship HMS Victory Channel Islands

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