Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Odyssey Marine Exploration Takes Control of NC Wreck

Odyssey Marine Exploration, dubbed "Pirates of the 21st Century" by Spain's largest newspaper, last week released a statement proclaiming it has taken control of the salvage rights to a wreck off the North Carolina coast.

The Florida deep-sea explorers who recovered an estimated $500 million in silver and gold coins from an Atlantic Ocean shipwreck last year are working on salvaging another shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina, the company said in a statement Thursday.

Odyssey Marine Exploration filed federal court papers saying it was taking over salvage rights to an unidentified shipwreck about 12 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Another salvage company, BDJ Discovery Group of High Point, N.C., filed for exclusive rights to the wreck site in September 2005.

In a court filing in 2006, BDJ said it had raised 16 items from the wreck, including gold and silver bars, shards of silver, emeralds and Spanish coins.

"Odyssey has been conducting survey and inspection operations on the arrested site since August 2007 and is currently planning the next stages of survey and archaeological investigation of the site," the Tampa-based company said in the statement.

The statement did not say what led to Odyssey taking control of the site. James Greene, who is listed in North Carolina state records as BDJ's registered agent, referred questions to Odyssey, whose spokeswoman declined further comment.

Odyssey announced in May that it had raised 17 tons of coins and other artifacts from an unidentified shipwreck somewhere in the Atlantic, likely the richest undersea treasure ever salvaged. But the company has been locked in a legal dispute with the Spanish government, which believes it may have a claim to the coins.

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