What's next for Odyssey Marine? - FOX 13 News

What's next for Odyssey Marine?

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A canon from the HMS Victory shipwreck. Courtesy Odyssey Marine. A canon from the HMS Victory shipwreck. Courtesy Odyssey Marine.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Nearly four months after giving up what may be history's richest treasure, Odyssey Marine Exploration is promising a strong rebound this summer.

Salvage vessels contracted by Odyssey are targeting two shipwrecks off the coast of Ireland and another in the English Channel. Odyssey's president, Mark Gordon, says records show all three carried significant riches.

EASY COME, EASY GO?

Odyssey was ordered by U.S. courts to hand over a trove of silver coins salvaged in 2007 in deep international waters off Portugal. The courts ruled the riches came from a colonial Spanish warship. The final ruling followed five years of international legal battles, during which Odyssey alleged that the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Justice were working behind the scenes to aid Spain.

"Candidly, I'm more disappointed with our own government than I am with the Spanish government," said Gordon.

A DEAL WITH THE QUEEEN

This summer's three projects have the blessing of the government of the United Kingdom. All of the sunken vessels were British.

Contracts call for Odyssey to retain 80 percent of what they pull from the bottom. The agreement also calls for significant maritime archeology, mapping the wreck sites, and preserving historical artifacts.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

The wrecks off Ireland are the first to be explored -- the SS Gairsoppa and the SS Manitola. Both were sunk by German submarines; the Gairsoppa in World War II and the Manitola in WWI.

"The Gairsoppa was reportedly carrying up to seven million ounces of silver bullion," explained Gordon.

Based on current silver prices, worth more than $200 million.

Gordon says the Manitola was reported to carry 600,000 ounces of silver.

HISTORY'S PRIZE

Historically, the shipwreck in the English Channel is the richest. The HMS Victory was lost in 1744 with a rich cargo and 1,000 sailors. Odyssey's discovery followed centuries of speculation of exactly where the ship went down.

Gordon says the Victory was the most lethal warship of its time with 100 guns that fired 42-pound cannonballs.

"It's an iconic warship," he said. "It's going to be really exciting to do all the archeology work on it."

But some of the cargo that most interests Odyssey is the reported 100,000 1-ounce gold coins the Victory carried.

If all goes well for Odyssey this summer, Gordon says February's loss of the treasure to Spain will become an "afterthought."

You can learn more about Odyssey Marine Exploration and its projects at their website, www.shipwreck.net.

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