Odyssey reaches agreement with UK Government on dismissal of Admiralty arrest and salvage award for cannon from HMS Victory
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX), pursuant to an agreement reached with the UK Government, has filed a motion to dismiss and vacate the warrant for the arrest which was filed in the U.S. District Court on Admiral Balchin's HMS Victory, a 100 gun ship of the line lost in 1744 in the English Channel (case number 8:08-cv-1045).
The UK Government has agreed to pay Odyssey a salvage award of 80% as compensation for the artifacts which have been recovered from the site and submitted to the UK Receiver of Wreck. A valuation of approximately $200,000 has been agreed for the two cannon recovered from the site, providing for a salvage award of approximately $160,000. The company will also be participating in the ongoing process of consultation to determine the approaches that should be adopted towards the wreck.
In 2008, in cooperation with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), Odyssey conducted an extensive archaeological pre-disturbance survey and recovered a 42 pdr and 12 pdr bronze cannon from the site. At the direction of the MOD, Odyssey presented the cannon to the UK Receiver of Wreck, and has been actively involved in their conservation and study.
"We look forward to cooperating with the MOD and other stakeholders in the archaeological management and preservation of Admiral Balchin's HMS Victory," commented Odyssey CEO, Greg Stemm from London, where he has spent the week meeting with UK officials. "I am pleased to announce that we have offered to forego part of our salvage award as a contribution of $75,000 to provide support to the National Museum of the Royal Navy to assist in realizing the historical, educational and cultural opportunities that the discovery of this important shipwreck offers to the public."
"We're thrilled that we've been able to return two cannon from Balchin's Victory to the citizens of the United Kingdom, but these are just a small portion of the irreplaceable cultural artifacts that remain at the site," Stemm continued. "We look forward to working with the UK Government and the archaeological community to help develop a strategy to protect this very significant cultural and naval heritage asset."
"As the shipwreck has been positively identified as HMS Victory, a UK Royal Naval Vessel, we recognize the UK Government's position is that the vessel has not been abandoned and therefore the shipwrecked vessel, its appurtenances and necessaries, and the personal effects of the officers and crew, are the property of Her Majesty's Government," commented Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. "As such, in good faith, we have agreed to conduct any further activities relating to the shipwreck under the jurisdiction of applicable UK laws."
About HMS Victory
HMS Victory was lost in 1744 under the command of Admiral Sir John Balchin. The direct predecessor and inspiration behind Nelson's flagship, Balchin's Victory was the mightiest and most technically advanced vessel of her age. She was lost during a storm with all hands and was the last Royal Navy warship to be lost at sea with a complete complement of bronze cannon. Two of the greatest admirals in English history, Sir John Norris and Sir John Balchin called her their flagship.