Entries in Shipwreck (4)


Ancient Roman Shipwreck Found at Sea

Varazze, Italy. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- An ancient Roman merchant vessel has been discovered off the Italian coastline, reportedly in such good condition that much of the food it was carrying might still be intact in its storage jars.

“There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food-filled,” Lt. Col. Francesco Schilardi of the police divers’ group told the BBC of the containers.

Local fisherman first became aware of the wreck when pieces of pottery began turning up in their nets. They notified police divers who used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to locate the 2,000-year-old ship in the sea off the town of Varazze.

“We believe it dates to sometime between the 1st Century BC and the 1st Century AD,” Schilardi said.

Tests on some of the roughly 200 pots, or amphorae, that the ship holds reveal that they contain pickled fish, grain, wine and oil, which were most likely en route to Spain to be traded for other goods when the ship sank.

The ship’s remarkable state of preservation has been attributed to the layers of mud on the seabed, which covered the wreck and protected it from harm.

The vessel will remain on the ocean floor until Italian authorities decide whether to raise it.

“Right now, the area of the finding has been secured,” Schilardi said, “and no fishing or water traffic is allowed.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nearly Fifty Tons of Silver Recovered from World War II Shipwreck

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An American company has made what is being called the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck.

The Tampa, Fla.-based Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. announced Wednesday that it had recovered 48 tons of silver bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, a sunken British cargo ship three miles below the surface of the waters off the coast of Ireland. Between the Gairsoppa, torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War II, and the SS Mantola, sunk by a German submarine during World War I, Odyssey said in a press release that about 240 tons of silver may be recovered by the end of the operation.

The recovery is being made under a contract awarded by the U.K. government, which will keep 20 percent of the cargo's value, estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The Gairsoppa became U.K. property after the government paid the owners of the ship an insurance sum of £325,000 in 1941. Records indicate the silver was valued at £600,000 in 1941.

The initial recovery of 48 tons consists of 1,203 silver bars and has been transported to a secure facility in the United Kingdom, according to the company.

"With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation," Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm said in Odyssey's release.

Odyssey contracted JBR Recovery Ltd., a European silver recovery and precious metal processing company, to assist in refining and monetizing the recovered silver.

The Gairsoppa and Mantola shipwrecks were discovered in 2011, and Odyssey conducted reconnaissance dives at both sites in March and April 2012. Recovery operations began in late May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Titanic Wreck to Go Under the Protection of UNESCO

Universal History Archive/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The iconic sunken luxury liner that has captured both the world’s fascination and curiosity for nearly a century will go under the protection of the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO on April 15.

The wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic will be protected under the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage exactly 100 years after its fateful sinking in international waters off the coast of Newfoundland.

Titanic’s sinking was "anchored in the memory of humanity" and it is important to offer protection to a site where 1,500 people lost their lives, director-general of UNESCO Irina Bokova said. "There are thousands of other shipwrecks that need safeguarding as well....We do not tolerate the plundering of cultural sites on land, and the same should be true for our sunken heritage.”

The 2001 convention, which only protects vessels that have been submerged for at least 100 years, will permit only signatory governments authority to seize artifacts stolen from the Titanic and give them power to prevent any exploration on the wreck "deemed unscientific or unethical."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pirate Henry Morgan's Long-Lost Ship Unearthed

Jupiterimages/ MARCOS, Texas) -- It was a pirate's life for Adm. Henry Morgan, and now landlubbers can get a peek into the time during which the plundering privateer lived. Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be the flagship belonging to the swashbuckling Welsh adventurer and inspiration behind Captain Morgan's Rum.

An underwater archeological team consisting of divers from Texas State University in San Marco, Texas, volunteers from the National Park Service's Submerged Resources Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/University of North Carolina-Wilmington's Aquarius Reef Base, set off for the Chagres River in Central Panama. Using a magnetometer to help them scour the ocean floor for iron remains, they spotted a small piece of ship hull in the sand.

"It was like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Frederick "Fritz" Hanselmann, chief underwater archaeologist and dive training officer with the River Systems Institute/Aquarena Center at Texas State University.

He was not exaggerating. Only about 2 inches of the hull were sticking up, but after further excavation, the team found a ship hull and several wooden chests 2 feet into the mud and clay, leading them to believe that they had found Morgan's ship, Satisfaction, dating back to 1671. It is the first successful archeological excavation in that area.

While Hanselmann is fairly positive that he won't find any gold or jewels, for him and the team, the history is the biggest "booty" they could have hoped for.

"The treasure is the history," Hanselmann said. "Everything we do is not for profit."

Not that they needed the money. The company that was made famous using Morgan's image, Captain Morgan's Rum, put up a substantial amount of money to back the dig, Hanselmann said.

Tom Herbst, brand manager for Captain Morgan's Rum, said in a statement. "When the opportunity arose for us to help make this discovery mission possible, it was a natural fit for us to get involved," he said. "The artifacts uncovered during this mission will help bring Henry Morgan and his adventures to life in a way never thought possible."

Captain Morgan's Rum has long used the image of the rugged pirate as a mascot for its brand. Movies such as Disney's The Pirates of the Caribbean have portrayed pirates as a bloodthirsty lot, hungry for loot, power and, of course, the occasional pint.

But researchers say Morgan did not entirely fit such a disparaging depiction.

Morgan was hired by the British government to protect its colonies in the Americas. He traversed the seas, taking down anything that might harm British interests. Commander of a huge fleet, Morgan had 36 ships, about 1,900 men and about 240 cannons at his disposal.

He was traveling inbound to the fort of Castillo de San Lorenzo at the mouth of the Chagres River to try and loosen Spain's monopoly in the Caribbean where he ran into rocky waters and sank Satisfaction along with four other ships. But his career didn't end there. He went on to become the lieutenant governor of Jamaica and died a natural death in 1688.

"He was probably the most successful to enjoy his ill-gotten gains," said Dominique Rissolo, executive director of the Waitt Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in La Jolla, Calif.

Rissolo was part of a 2010 team that uncovered six cannons in the same area that led to the discovery of the ship. The cannons, along with the most recent findings, will go to Panama's National Institute of Culture.

The search is not over for the team. Rissolo said that the excavations are part of an ongoing collaboration with Panama to ensure the preservation of Panama's culture and learn a little bit more about Morgan.

While popular depictions of a mercenary Morgan might not be completely correct, Rissolo said, one stereotype rings true.

"He died a rich and inebriated man," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio