Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gold ship recovery still stalled

Work on the wreck of HMS Sussex, the English treasure ship believed to be lying on the seabed close to Gibraltar, remains stalled.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, the US salvage company behind the project, is still locked in talks with Spanish authorities, even though technically Madrid has no say in the matter because the ship belongs to the UK and is outside Spain’s territorial waters.

Earlier this year, newspapers in Spain and the UK had reported that the Guardia Civil had sent patrol boats to stop Odyssey’s ship, the RV Odyssey Explorer from carrying out work on the site, though the authorities subsequently denied all the reports.

The American company is keen to stay on Madrid’s good books, not least because it has its eye on a number of potentially lucrative shipwrecks in international waters around the world that are, in legal terms, owned by Spain.

Yesterday, the company said talks with Spain, the UK, the US and the Junta de Andalucia, both on HMS Sussex and on “cultural interests and underwater archaeology in the region”, were ongoing.

“The discussions with the Spanish authorities have been very cordial and helpful in settling some issues that had resulted from erroneous media reports,” said Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odyssey.

“After the talks, I’m confident that all issues relating to our upcoming work in the Western Mediterranean will be dealt with in a timely fashion.”

In the meantime, the company is pressing on with alternatives under its Atlas programme, with 127 out of 275 “targets” already surveyed.

Related Links:

21 April 2005 - HMS Sussex Treasure Hunt suspended

16 March 2005 - Ship set for Sussex Treasure hunt

Abridged version of the Sussex Project Plan.

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