Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Odyssey Marine begins work on controversial HMS Sussex project


Tampa Bay
By Alexis Muellner
March 15, 2005

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said its 251-foot deep ocean archaeological platform, the Odyssey Explorer, has arrived in the western Mediterranean to begin work on the shipwreck site believed to be HMS Sussex.

The Tampa-based company has received final approval on the technical and staffing portions of the project plan from the UK Government to proceed with the project, it said in a release. Mobilization of equipment, crew and minor repairs necessary from the transatlantic crossing are expected to be complete within a week.

The HMS Sussex was a large English warship lost in a severe storm in the western Mediterranean in 1694.

Odyssey believes that it has located the shipwreck of HMS Sussex and has signed an exclusive partnering agreement with the government of the United Kingdom for the archaeological excavation of the shipwreck.

The process has had controversy.

The Council for British Archaeology and "a number of other archaeological organizations" have voiced extreme concerns about the commercial treasure hunting contract between the UK Government (negotiated by the Ministry of Defense, Disposal Services Agency), it said in a 2002 release.

"The CBA believes that through this deal the British Government has engaged in a joint venture selling antiquities to pay for an investigation of questionable archaeological feasibility, and in a way which contravenes UK commitments to international conventions as well as basic principles of the Government's own heritage policy," it wrote.

A year in the making, the contract "addresses a stubborn philosophical rift between academic archaeologists and commercial salvors," a report in the Cyber Diver News Network, said.

"Commercial exploitation of underwater cultural heritage," says the International Council of Monuments and Sites, "is fundamentally incompatible with the protection and management of the heritage."
Sunken ships are not a scarce commodity, the CDNN said.


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