February 2, 2009
Treasure Hunting Firm Discovers HMS Victory Shipwreck
A Florida-based treasure-hunting firm reported the discovery of a British Royal Navy warship on Monday.
The HMS Victory, which belonged to Admiral Sir John Balchin was lost in 1744. Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. reported the discovery of the ship, which was considered to be the last Royal Navy warship to be lost at sea with a complete complement of bronze cannon, the company said in a statement.
Shares of the exploration firm jumped more than 32 percent on Monday after the find was reported nearly 62 miles from where the ship was historically believed to have been wrecked, according to Reuters.
"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," said Greg Stemm, Odyssey's Chief Executive Officer.
So far, two brass cannons have been recovered from the wreck, Stemm said, adding that the company is working closely with the UK's Ministry of Defense on the 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," he said.
Federal court records filed by Odyssey in Tampa seeking the exclusive salvage rights said the site is 25 to 40 miles from the English coast, outside of its territorial waters, according to the AP.
The 175-foot ship was lost at see when its fleet sank in the English Channel on Oct. 4, 1744 with at least 900 men aboard.
The company analyzed newspaper reports and other historical data, which indicated the ship sank off the Channel Island of Alderney near Cherbourg, France.
The shipwreck has undergone substantial damage "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," said marine archaeologist Dr. Sean Kingsley, Director of Wreck Watch International.
Sir Robert Balchin, descendant of Admiral Sir John Balchin, said: "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."
The company's find will be featured on an upcoming Discovery Channel TV show.
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