Friday, April 22, 2005


Odyssey Marine gets Spanish government hearing on Sussex hunt


Tampa Bay Biz Journals
April 20, 2005

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. got some good news from the Spanish government on its effort to exhume what it believes is a valuable British warship sunk in the late 1600s.

Through its Spanish counsel, Odyssey received a report that after high-level intergovernmental meetings planned for later this month, Odyssey should be able to resume work on the Sussex with the cooperation of the appropriate authorities, it said.

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 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 with the U.K. government, it said in a 2002 release.

Work on the HMS Sussex had been suspended when Spanish officials raised issues about sovereignty earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Odyssey's 251-foot deep-ocean archaeological platform is working in the western Mediterranean, inspecting and conducting preliminary excavations on several shipwreck sites located recently by the Research Vessel RV Odyssey.

By the end of April, it is anticipated that sufficient preliminary survey work will have been accomplished on at least three of the shipwrecks located in the western Mediterranean to provide Odyssey's research department sufficient artifacts and information to determine whether to continue excavations.

After finishing preliminary excavations on these shipwrecks, the Odyssey Explorer will either continue the Sussex operations, or begin work on sites discovered in the 2005 search program, code-named the "Atlas" project.

"We can work on the Sussex any time of year and it's presently protected from anyone else by our exclusive agreement with the UK. Most targets in our 'Atlas' search area typically only present a weather window through the fall, so it makes sense to move there while we continue to cooperate with the UK and Spanish governments in planning the Sussex operation and other cooperative efforts," said Greg Stemm, Odyssey's co-founder, in a release.
Odyssey is trying to work out its relations with Spain before resuming work on the Sussex.

"While we believe operations could legally resume on the Sussex at this time, the long-term growth of the company is best served by cooperating with the United Kingdom and Spain to show our good faith and ability to allow for cooperation on sovereign immune shipwrecks," said John Morris, Odyssey's co-founder and CEO.

Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration (AMEX:OMR) has several shipwreck projects in various stages of development throughout the world. Odyssey has an exclusive partnering agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom for the archaeological excavation of the shipwreck believed to be HMS Sussex.


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