Odyssey Marine finds 1744 Shipwreck That Could Hold up to 4 Tons Of Gold Coins
Filed Under: Shipwrecks & Treasure
World’s Mightiest Ship Was Lost Without a Trace in 1744 – Mystery Solved
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), pioneers in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, has discovered the long-sought shipwreck of HMS Victory lost in 1744, solving one of the greatest mysteries in naval history. The legendary British man-of-war that sank in the English Channel 264 years ago.
Found below about 330 feet of water, the wreckage of the HMS Victory may carry the greatest jackpot ever. Research indicates the ship was carrying 4 tons of gold coins when it sank in storm, said Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odyssey Marine Exploration, ahead of a news conference today in London.
The direct predecessor and inspiration behind Nelson’s flagship, Balchin’s Victory was the mightiest and technically most advanced vessel of her age. She sank during a storm in 1744 with all hands and was the last Royal Navy warship to be lost at sea with a complete complement of bronze cannon. Two of the greatest admirals in English history, Sir John Norris and Sir John Balchin, called her their flagship. Research indicates that Balchin’s Victory sank with a substantial amount of gold and silver specie aboard.
Odyssey has been cooperating closely with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) on the project, and all activities at the site have been conducted in accordance with protocols agreed with MOD and Royal Navy officials. Terms of collaboration between Odyssey and the UK MOD on the project are currently being negotiated, and an agreement similar to the Sussex Partnering Agreement has been proposed.
“Finding this shipwreck has solved one of the greatest shipwreck mysteries in history. Having discovered it in deep water far from where history says it was lost has served to exonerate Admiral Balchin and his officers from the accusation of having let the ship run aground on the Casquets due to faulty navigation,” commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have worked closely with the MOD on this operation, and anticipate that we will continue the excellent cooperative relationship that we have enjoyed working together on the Sussex project. Fortunately, this shipwreck is not in waters claimed by any other country, so we do not expect any interference in further exploration of the site.”
Odyssey discovered the site nearly 100 km from where the ship was historically believed to have been wrecked on a reef near the Channel Islands. In an operation conducted in cooperation with the MOD, Odyssey has completed an archaeological pre-disturbance survey of the site, conducted limited test trenching, and recovered two bronze cannon to confirm the identity of the shipwreck. The cannon recovered include a 12-pounder featuring the royal arms of George II and a 4 ton, 42-pounder bearing the crest of George I. The huge 42-pounder recovered is the only known example of a gun of this type and size currently in existence on dry land. The only other artifacts recovered to date were two small brick fragments that were brought into U.S. federal court in order to file an admiralty arrest of the site.
During these operations, evidence was discovered of substantial damage to the site from natural deterioration, scouring, extensive fishing trawl net damage and the intrusion of modern trash and debris.
“Rather than staying frozen in time beneath the waves, this unique shipwreck is fading fast,” warns marine archaeologist Dr. Sean Kingsley, Director of Wreck Watch International., “The Victory lies in an area of intensive trawling, and her hull and contents are being ploughed away by these bulldozers of the deep day in, day out. Leaving the Victory’s rich archaeology so vulnerable to the ravages of man is like allowing a motorway to smash straight through a historic site on land without excavating it. The archaeological recovery of the artifacts from the site should begin as soon as possible or the story of England’s most important lost man-of-war may not survive to be told.”
Sir Robert Balchin, descendant of Admiral Sir John Balchin, stated, “This is the most astonishing news; for generations my family has wondered about the fate of Sir John and the Victory. Now that the wreck has been found, I and my family hope that as many of the artifacts on it as possible will be raised to the surface; our fear is that erosion, or trawler fishing will destroy what is there within a very few years. It would be wonderful to see these historic artifacts on permanent display in a museum where they will give a unique insight into naval warfare in the mid 18th century.”
A preliminary archaeological report detailing research and work to date on the site, which identifies the shipwreck as that of HMS Victory is available at www.shipwreck.net/publications.php
Odyssey’s work on the Victory site was all conducted while cameras for Discovery Channel’s “Treasure Quest” were rolling. In the United States, the “Treasure Quest” episode featuring the identification of HMS Victory will air on Thursday, February 5 at 10PM ET/PT. In the United Kingdom, a special presentation of “Treasure Quest” featuring HMS Victory will premiere on Sunday, February 8 at 9:00 PM. “Treasure Quest” is produced by Primetime Emmy® Award-winning JWM Productions.
Additional information about Odyssey’s discovery and work to date on Balchin’s Victory is available at www.shipwreck.net/hmsvictoryfaqs.php.
About the Author
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM:OMEX) is engaged in the exploration of deep-water shipwrecks and uses innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to conduct extensive deep-ocean search and archaeological recovery operations around the world. Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of the SS Republic in 2003 and recovered over 50,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site nearly 1,700 feet deep. In May 2007, the Company announced the largest historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named "Black Swan." Odyssey has several shipwreck projects in various stages of development around the world. Odyssey offers various ways to share in the excitement of deep-ocean exploration by making shipwreck treasures and artifacts available to collectors, the general public and students through its webstore, exhibits, books, videos, merchandise, and educational programs. Odyssey's "SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure" exhibit is currently on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL. For details on the Company's activities and its commitment to the preservation of maritime heritage please visit www.shipwreck.net. For additional information, please contact Natja Igney, Odyssey's Manager of Corporate Communications, at 813-876-1776.
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