Odyssey Marine Exploration
The country's largest publicly traded shipwreck exploration company has three promising finds but faces hurdles in opening the treasure chests.
» “Black Swan” — Odyssey’s code name for the wreck from which it recovered gold and 17 tons of silver off the seafloor in 2007 in international waters near Cadiz, Spain. Odyssey says the find might be the Mercedes, a Spanish ship destroyed in battle in 1804. The company says some information conflicts with its Mercedes hypothesis. Spain has filed a claim on the treasure, as has Peru, from which the goods may have originated. Peru’s entry may help Odyssey.
» HMS Sussex — An 80-gun English warship that sank in a storm off Gibraltar in 1694 that Odyssey believes it has found. While Odyssey reached a deal in 2002 with the British that gives it permission to excavate the site, the company agreed to have Spanish archaeological supervision. The project is on hold given the “Black Swan” fight.
» SS Republic — A steamer that sank in a hurricane in 1865 near the Florida-Georgia line. Odyssey still has the legal right to the site but retrieved all the gold, silver, cargo and artifacts it desired in 2003. Odyssey didn’t find all the riches it anticipated, perhaps because it settled elsewhere or was never on board. Odyssey President Mark Gordon says the company has no immediate plans
» Merchant Royal — Odyssey hypothesizes a wreck with cannons it found near the English Channel is the Merchant Royal that sank in 1641 while carrying an eye-popping amount of gold and silver. The company has filed an admiralty action for the wreck but hasn’t said anything about finding gold and silver. Spain says the cargo belongs to it.
» Ancona — An Italian passenger liner carrying gold sank after an attack by a German U-boat in 1915 off Italy. Odyssey filed its admiralty action last year on the wreck site.
» “Firefly” — Odyssey’s code name for a wreck 12 miles off North Carolina that has produced some gold and silver.
» “Blue China”— Project name for an unidentified sailing ship carrying primarily china that Odyssey found in 2003 while hunting for the Republic. Odyssey has recovered some of the plates. (Some of the china is in photo at right.)
» “Melkarth”— Project name for a third to fifth century B.C. trading ship carrying amphorae jars found in 1998 while Odyssey was looking for the Sussex. With no gold or silver, Odyssey has no plans to excavate the site unless a sponsor steps forward to fund it.
» “Atlas Project” — A 5,000-square-mile area in and around the English Channel that Odyssey has searched for three years for five “high-value” wrecks. The area produced what may be the Merchant Royal and two other wrecks from the Colonial era. Odyssey is developing plans to excavate them.