Dispute over shipwreck treasure

US company denies that treasure recovered from shipwreck in Atlantic was found in Spanish waters

Odyssey Marine Exploration, a US company, today affirmed that it has recovered more than half a million gold and silver coins, valued to be worth more than 371 million euros, from a shipwreck at the bottom of the Atlantic. However it also denied that the treasure was recovered from HMS Sussex, a 17th century English ship which is thought to lie somewhere to the East of the Gilbraltar straits.

The US company which has headquarters in Florida denied that the ‘Black Swan’, which is the name given to the shipwreck discovered last Friday, was the same as HMS Sussex, for which the company obtained a permit from both Spain and the United Kingdom for its identification it but not for extracting any cargo. It also denied that it was found in waters near to where the remains of HMS Sussex are thought to lie.

Nevertheless, Odyssey Marine Exploration is waiting for the Spanish government to name some divers who will have the responsibility for overseeing the US company whilst they carry out further exploration in the Mar de Alborán aimed at locating the wreck of HMS Sussex.

In a statement to the press Odyssey Marine Exploration said that they had no further information on the identification of the shipwreck.

According to the US company the treasure was discovered in a undetermined part of the Atlantic but out of territorial waters or the legal jurisdiction of any country.
There has also been speculation over the origins of treasure from a shipwreck at the bottom of the English Channel between the United Kingdom and France for which Odyssey Marine Exploration recently applied for permission from a US court for the recovery its cargo.

A lawyer from the company indicated last autumn that the company believed that it had found the remains of a 17th century merchant ship which had sunk with a valuable cargo around 65 kilometres off the South coast of England.

A judge awarded the US company the exclusive rights over the recovery of this shipwreck just days before it announced the discovery of 500,000 coins last week. To date Marine Odyssey Exploration has refused to say whether the coins are from the shipwreck in the English channel.

The Spanish government has opened an investigation to find out where the US company discovered the gold coins, from which shipwreck, what permission it had and most importantly whether the treasure was found in Spanish waters. The Spanish Minister for Culture, Carmen Calvo, emphasised that when the matter was clarified the government would act accordingly as Spanish law states that anything discovered off the Spanish coast belongs to Spain