American salvage workers say they have discovered the wreckage of one of the most important ships in British naval history. Its location and treasure remained a mystery, until now.
HMS Victory fate
The fate of the HMS Victory has puzzled historians and treasure-hunters for centuries. In 1744, the ship sank somewhere in the English Channel. More than 1,000 men and treasure were on board.
"It's not often that a vessel goes missing with all hands and no one has any idea what happened to it," Greg Stemm said. He and his team from Odyssey Marine Exploration believe they have solved the mystery.
They recovered two bronze cannons from the wreckage, confirming it was the HMS Victory. Their work was recorded by the US-based Discovery Channel.
"You can't appreciate it on the water," one crew member said. "You know it's big, but you don't appreciate it until you actually see it."
The team made the discovery nearly 100 kilometers from where the ship was believed to have gone down.
Even though crew members are excited about the finds, they are hoping to find more.
Searching for treasure
"Treasure is, of course, what we're looking for. We have to pay the bills," said Tom Dettweiler, senior project manager at Odyssey Marine Exploration.
The team's researchers found documentation showing the ship was carrying four tons of gold, and they believe it could be worth more than $1 billion.
But the British government claims it owns the ship and its contents. The company hopes to strike a deal with Britain in exchange for excavating the wreckage.
"We are not doing it for free. We are hoping they will pay a minimum of our daily expenses," Dettweiler said. "And should we recover a very valuable cargo, we would like to see a split on that cargo." Their work is not cheap. It costs about $35,000 a day.
Archeologist Neil Dobson maneuvers a deep sea robot named Zeus to explore the shipwreck. "I can sit here relatively comfortable for hours on end, getting detail," Dobson explained.
The recovery process could take up to one year. For now, the Odyssey crew is enjoying the spotlight.
"Historically, this could be one of the greatest recoveries ever," Dettweiler said. "We are really going to tell this story."
But not just yet. The exact location of the shipwreck is still Odyssey's secret. And as for the treasure, time will tell if it rests with the HMS Victory.