Shipwreck Digest for February 3, 2012

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It’s been a busy few weeks for shipwreck enthusiasts. We’ve had the Rena in New Zealand. The Bremen in France (click here for amazing images of the salvage operation, which concluded on January 23.) The Costa Concordia in Italy (recent reports have focused on those human essentials: lovemoney and mafia wreckers). And the MV Rabaul Queen, a passenger ferry, sank off Papua New Guinea. Dozens are feared dead.

But that barely scratches the surface.

Of course there’s been a slew of significant commercial wrecks. [see Shipwrecks Log for more]

Odyssey Marine Exploration signed a deal with Britain’s Maritime Heritage Foundation for “the financing, archaeological survey, excavation, conservation, and finally exhibition of HMS Victory.” No, not Nelson’s Victory, but a far wealthier one.(Although a British diver allegedly just recovered a horde of Nelson artifacts from another Royal Navy wreck.)  This Victory was the last British Navy First Rate to be armed entirely with bronze cannons and it apparently carried over $1 billion in gold when it sank in 1744. Sounds like another sweetheart deal for Odyssey. For more read this.

Odyssey’s ‘Black Swam’ case against Spain for ownership of the $500 million recovered from the site in 2007 had another court decision handed down against the treasure hunters. The appeal process, however, will continue for some time.

Greg Brooks, a Maine-based “treasure hunter,” claims to have located the wreck of the Port Nicholson, a British merchant ship that was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Cape Cod during World War II while carrying a load of platinum bars now worth more than $3 billion. According to this AP report, the whole project sounds like a fiasco waiting to happen. Only time will tell if (1) there is actualy any platinum (2) this becomes a major international dispute, and (3) if Brooks’ plan to “lift the ship out of the water” is genius or madness.

Last but not least. Shipwreck hunters in the Baltic have stumbled across what some call a “mysterious find” and others a “UFO” akin to the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame. Wow. I’ll say no more.

Phew! Lets see what February brings…

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Filed under Notes from the Field, Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch, Wrecks in the News

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