Shipwreck Nets Silver Cache

| December 12, 2007 | 0 Comments
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Shipwreck Nets Silver Cache

Deep-sea treasure hunters, Odyssey Marine Exploration have claimed potentially the most lucrative shipwreck treasure in history (I guess Dirk Pitt and NUMA dropped the ball on this one). Their recent find netted them 17 tons of colonial-era silver and gold coins from a site in the Atlantic Ocean with an estimated value of around $500 million.

As you can imagine (Pirates, yo!), the Tampa-based company has been tight lipped regarding details and location of the wreck. The AP article notes that court records show the coins could have come from a 400-year-old ship found off the coast of England. Apparently, Odyssey had recently petitioned for permission to salvage a wreck site near the English Channel. Last fall, an Odyssey attorney told a federal judge that the company had potentially located the remains of a 17th-century merchant ship, which sank with valuable cargo about 40 miles off the SW tip of England. All this is smashing news for Odyssey, the only publicly traded company of its kind (read some SEC docs here). Odyssey salvaged 50,000+ coins and articfacts from the wreck of the SS Republic near Savannah, Georgia, USA in 2003 and netted quite a pretty penny. However, the company posted losses in 2005 and 2006 due to the capital intensive nature of the business and the extreme difficulty of achieving successes. The Odyssey folks are out to prove that its expertise and techniques, including the use of expensive, state-of-the-art ships and underwater robotic equipment will prove them to be a viable ongoing concern. So far, they are establishing a track record of success, having won permission from the Spanish government in January to resume a search for the wreck of the HMS Sussex, head of the British fleet in the that sunk off Gibraltar while running to the Mediterranean Sea for a war with France in 1694. The company believes this lode will fetch more than $500MM, but terms of an agreement with the British government will net them 80 percent of the first $45MM and some where in the neighborhood of 50% of proceeds exceeding the $45MM. The richest wreck recovery to date was from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank off the Florida Keys in 1622. Mel Fisher discovered it in 1985, a reported $400MM in coins and other goodies. I have a fondness for the swashbuckling aura brought to mind by these treasure hunters. I’ve always loved taking some time to visit the McLarty Treasure Museum in Sebastian and watching the looters sift away off the coast over the years.

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Category: Treasures Headlines

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