Three-way fight for world's biggest sunken treasure.
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Thread: Three-way fight for world's biggest sunken treasure.

  1. #1

    Three-way fight for world's biggest sunken treasure.

    If the Spanish and the Americans want the treasure, then they'll have to fight us for it......

    Three-way fight for world's biggest sunken treasure

    By Jonathan Thompson

    Published: 19 February 2006


    HMS Sussex sank in 1694.

    Three nations are fighting over the world's greatest hoard of sunken treasure. More than 300 years after the warship HMS Sussex sank off Gibraltar carrying gold coins worth 2.4bn, Britain, Spain and the US are claiming the treasure.

    With 80 guns and a crew of 500, the Sussex was the British navy's flagship when, in February 1694, it was wrecked in a storm as it headed towards the Mediterranean a secret mission to persuade the Italian Duke of Savoy to join the international alliance against France, with which Britain was then at war.

    The Sussex was lost until 1995, when a researcher handed a US-based salvage firm called Odyssey a letter, written shortly after the sinking, that gave the first hint of the ship's cargo.

    Odyssey began searching for the wreck in 1998, and four years later announced it had discovered it half a mile beneath the surface. The Florida-based company signed an agreement with the British Government to raise the ship.

    Spain, however, which has long claimed Gibraltar as its own, soon demanded a cut of the treasure. The Odyssey mission, which began in earnest on 12 December, was hampered by the arrival of Spanish ships - dangerously close, the company said, to its main vessel the Odyssey Explorer, which it has temporarily removed to safer waters.

    Co-founder Greg Stemm said: "The company is planning to file legal action against boat operators who have endangered their own vessels, the company's ship Odyssey Explorer and its crew by violating numerous maritime regulations."

    A spokesman for the MoD last week reiterated British ownership of the Sussex and of its precious cargo.

    "It remains the property of the Crown, irrespective of it being a wreck or where it lies," he said.


    independent.co.uk

  2. #2
    Frustrated Mad Scientist
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    I thought that any ship that sunk could be recovered by anyone as salvage?

  3. #3
    AO Guinness Monster MURACU's Avatar
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    That is normally true but no goverment is going to let 1.2 BIllion go with out a fight.
    \"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.\"
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    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    I thought that any ship that sunk could be recovered by anyone as salvage?
    Not if it is a warship, and certainly not if it is a war grave.

    This ship sank whilst on active service in a time of war......................it belongs to the MoD.


  5. #5
    It's British money. If the coins bear the royal seal of the period then the money should go back in to the royal treasury. Otherwise it'd be like me losing my wallet in Spain, then having a Spanish guy turn it in to the police but only if he can have $5 out of it. As for the Americans, they have NO claim to the treasure. They're simply contract salvagers.

  6. #6
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    As much as I would like to call the case of the "Finders-Keepers" vs. the "Losers-Weepers", nihil has a point.

    Britain has the most claim on it (it was their ship, it went down during a time of war on a mission, etc...)

    The US really don't have a claim on it in terms of the country, IMO its more of the salvagers that would have a claim on it.

    Spain just wants money and is being annoying.

  7. #7
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    Amazingly enough, since the ship was destroyed during time of war, it belongs to the country that destroyed it, not to the flag under which it sailed.. It'll be an interesting case to watch develop though. Because it's been so long since she was sunk, the country that sank it can be said to have 'abandoned the spoils of war' - in which case 'finders keepers' applies...

    Wartime grave I'm afraid no longer applies to this case Nihil, much as we wish it could - it's been so long that the remains even if intact, are no longer considered in the case (no one who remembers a single person on her crew still exists, and although ancestors might, it's considered a moot point. That far back just about anyone could claim to be an ancestor.)

    More than likely political diplomacy will be the key to successfully salvaging the wreckage. Each of the involved countries will get a large-ish cut, but the finder/salvager will get the lion's share.
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  8. #8
    The ******* Shadow dalek's Avatar
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    Article 4 - State-owned vessels


    22

    1. Without prejudice to article 5, this Convention shall not apply to warships or other non-commercial vessels owned or operated by a State and entitled, at the time of salvage operations, to sovereign immunity under generally recognized principles of international law unless that State decides otherwise.


    23

    2. Where a State Party decides to apply the Convention to its warships or other vessels described in paragraph 1, it shall notify the Secretary-General thereof specifying the terms and conditions of such application.
    Salvage Rights

    You can bet your bottom dollar that MOD will ensure this convention is in place...the Spanish don't have a chance as this vessal sank, thanks to an act of God and not war,and the war was with France not Spain at the time.


    Although the "finders keepers" principle applies to most shipwrecks in international waters, archaeologists have taken some consolation in the fact that the rights to "sovereign" vessels like the Sussex are retained by the country under whose flag they sailed, wherever they sank.

    But to the horror of British archaeologists, Odyssey has struck a first-of-a-kind deal with the British defense ministry that provides a sliding scale for the division of treasure, the conservation of artifacts, and the sale of media rights.
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  9. #9
    Originally posted here by Aspman
    I thought that any ship that sunk could be recovered by anyone as salvage?
    Mot neccessarily, take for instance the Titanic, she still belongs to the Cunard Line and the Insurers who paid off. Salvage rights have to be bought from the insurers who are happy to recover ANYof their loss.

    The M/V UNITED STATES which went down with Gold Bullion and coin in 1850 off North Carolina was found a few years ago and the insurance companies that paid off on her were there standing in line!!! Hard to think a company would exist 150 yrs afterwards butsome of the insurers are successors to some very old companies and groups!

    Spanish ships that sunk off Florida are presumed to belong to the United States since we bought Florida from Spain in 1818! Same hold true in Louisiana since 3 countries have held Louisiana, France, Spain and the US.

    Admiralty Law is interesting BUT BORING. a Ship never loses its flag and a warship is considered the property of its country if sunk and not captured! We had a German Sub from WWII found off the Louisiana Coast by the Oil Company Surveyors for a pipeline and the Geramn Government (Successor to Nazi Geramny) asked that it be left alone.

    An American warship sunk in Mexican Waters in 1847 during the Mexican War was found a few years ago and the US Navy took charge of its recovery since by International Law, the ship was US by flag. (Veracruz Harbor in fact).

    Ship wrecks of Antiquities such as Norse, Roman, Greek, Phonecian or others of the ancient world belong to whose ever territory they are found in since their "Govts" are defunct and have no clear line of succession!

  10. #10
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Wartime grave I'm afraid no longer applies to this case Nihil, much as we wish it could - it's been so long that the remains even if intact, are no longer considered in the case (no one who remembers a single person on her crew still exists, and although ancestors might, it's considered a moot point. That far back just about anyone could claim to be an ancestor.)
    Hi Iceman it is certainly still upheld by the EU; we have several Nazi and Imperial U-Boats from WWII and WWI in the bay here, that are designated "War Graves". Sunken ships belong to their governments, only captured ships (prizes) change ownership. Obviously those sunk in territorial waters are open to claims from the "host nation" because they have 72 hours to get the hell outa there (Graf Spee?) That is why the U-boats are war graves, they don't belong to Germany, and that stops people messing with them. Last year we finally found the last two, so all German losses are now accounted for, and the descendants informed.

    So we own the Bonhomme Richard 'cos we sank it within our three mile limit. I actually know where she is................good longlining for sea bass as it goes. There is actually a US Navy archeology team coming to have a look at her later this year. And why have I represented the USN and USAMC at sporting events (and the pay check is still "in the post")

    Anyways, the Spanish navy has met the Royal Navy before, (on the odd occasion, like when they tried to gatecrash a bowling match? ) The outcome is inevitable......................

    And this is not sunk by the Spanish, and not in their territorial waters..............basically they can get stuffed. The American team have the kit and the expertise, which is why they are onboard. The MoD are actually more interested in the history/archeology, particularly as it is a self-financing project. Hell the money would not keep our people in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a few months at best?




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