Sunken British warship to be raised, mystery solved

In 1744, a mighty British warship sank off the Channel Islands, killing more than 1,000 sailors and carrying an estimated £500m worth of gold coins. Now, plans are being made to raise the ship and solve one of seafaring’s greatest mysteries.

“HMS Victory was the mightiest vessel of the 18th Century and the eclectic mix of guns we found on the site will prove essential in further refining our understanding of naval weaponry used during the era,” said Greg Stemm, chief executive of Odyssey Marine Exploration the American salvage company that found the ship and has been chosen to carry out the recovery.

The wreck of the 300 ft HMS Victory was a predecessor of Lord Nelson‘s famous 104-gun flagship, now a floating museum, was found near the Channel Islands in 2008, nearly 65 miles from where it was historically believed to have sunk.

Only a cannon, marked with the crest of King George I, has been recovered so far but the remains of the ship’s hull, an iron ballast, two anchors, a copper kettle and rigging have been spotted on the ocean floor where the ship was laid to rest 300 years ago.

The guns and other reclaimed artifacts will be displayed in British museums, however under British laws of salvage, the salvage company is likely to receive the bulk of any treasure found.

No matter, says Lord Lingfield, a relative of Admiral Sir John Balchin, who was onboard the warship when it sank. “We will have the satisfaction of solving a great maritime mystery that has been part of my family history since the 18th Century.”

Flickr photo by david.nikonvscanon