Sunken relics promise to unlock the secret of how Victory met her doom
By Frank Pope
With its thruster motors fighting the current, the submersible pushed through a blizzard of sediment. Far above, in a darkened control room, the robot's operator squeezed his eyes shut to push away the fatigue.
Making three dives a day, he had lost count of how many times he had approached suspected wrecks only to find a clump of ferrous rocks or junk from a ship. This time it would be different.
The announcement this week that Odyssey Marine Exploration, the world's biggest commercial shipwreck exploration specialist, has discovered what appear to be the remains of HMS Victory has caused a sensation.
At the time of her sinking in 1744, the Victory was the most powerful warship in the world and was the immediate predecessor of Nelson's flagship now berthed at Portsmouth.
The 240ft Odyssey Alert had towed high-frequency sonar and sophisticated metal detectors across the search area, identifying anything that did not appear to be natural.
Odyssey Marine had surveyed about 4,700 sq miles (12,170 sq km) of ocean floor in the Western Approaches of the English Channel alone. Then the 251ft Odyssey Explorer arrived with the robot Zeus to take a closer look with cameras.