Sunday, December 3, 2017


3 December 2017: It seems as though much of the maritime news these days is either about going really fast in a sailing vessel or finding stuff underwater that resonates with history aficionados. So, today we're going to look at yet another underwater find that is interesting due to the international brouhaha its discovery has begun. Tom Metcalfe wrote this piece for Live Science.


A Florida court is hearing arguments about who has the right to recover artifacts from the remains of a 16th-century shipwreck lying on the seafloor near Cape Canaveral, FL.
The long-lost ship's debris include a bounty of artifacts, including three ornate brass cannons and a distinctive marble monument

marked with the coat of arms of the King of France, which may be among the earliest traces of European settlement ever found in the Americas.

The descriptions of the artifacts match similar items carried by the 1562 French expedition to Florida commanded by the navigator Jean Ribault (1520-1565), according to historical French records that include the cargo manifests of the ships. The marine salvage firm Global Marine Exploration (GME), which was granted permits by the state of Florida to explore seven areas off the coast of Cape Canaveral, found the artifacts buried in the sandy seafloor in May and June 2016. 
GME Chairman and CEO Robert Pritchett announced the finds in July 2016. He expressed hope that his company would be granted a permit to recover the artifacts, which are worth a pretty penny; the brass cannons alone could be worth more than $1 million each, Pritchett told Live Science.
But GME's discovery soon ran into trouble: the nation of France announced in November 2016 that it was claiming ownership of the cannons, monument and other artifacts under an internationally agreed "sovereign right" that prohibits the salvage of naval vessels without permission.
The state of Florida is supporting France in its claim for ownership, and also alleges that GME breached the terms of its exploration permits — an allegation that GME denies.
Pritchett said that historical documents show that the cannons and monument may have been seized as plunder by the Spanish in 1565, during a raid on the French colony of Fort Caroline. If this true, the cannons were probably being carried to Cuba on Spanish ships when they were lost, he said.
If the ship the artifacts were on when it sank was not French, then France has no sovereign right to their ownership, he said.
"France has no case, no evidence [and] no proof in their statements and paperwork to the court — just speculation and smoke," Pritchett said.


Nothing like a few million dollar cannons lying around to bring out the best in all of us! If more on this shows up, we'll try to bring it to you! 

Until next time, 
                                              Fair Winds, 
                                                    Old Salt 

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