Now That’s Gotta Hurt

A federal judge says deep-sea explorers based in Florida should give 17 tons of shipwreck treasure back to Spain.
Odyssey Marine Exploration said Thursday it will fight a federal magistrate judge’s recommendation that the estimated $500 million in silver coins and other 19th century artifacts go to the Spanish government.

Talk about a booty call…

13 Responses to “Now That’s Gotta Hurt”

  1. Skyler says:

    Maybe they should return it to where they found it! 🙂
    It’s a tough call. The law has been clear that a nation does not relinquish ownership of a ship and its contents simply because it has sunk. Unless it was sunk by a naval engagement. Don’t quote me on this, I’m going by memory.

  2. Retread says:

    IIRC, other treasure finders worked out a sharing arrangement with the country and/or insurance company. I wonder why that didn’t happen in this case. Greed, perhaps?

  3. When I first heard about this, I thought it was a transport ship, especially after I watched Odyssy Marine’s Discovery Channel show this winter. They actually found HMS Victory trolling the English Channel and were scrupulous about how they notified the British government. In episode after episode, they spoke of how a warship stays sovereign territory regardless of how long it’s been under the waves and treated the wreck duly. They also gave some hint of the negotiations with the Brits about salvage. So I was sure this other find had been non-military. Is there a distinction between a “ship o’ war/the line” and a mere naval “transport”?
    I don’t know.

  4. Dave E. says:

    I was going to joke that it should go back to the natives it was originally plundered from, but I see that Peru has indeed already filed a claim.

  5. Sorta takes all the “conquistador” fun out of it, doesn’t it, Dave?

  6. Ebola says:

    A ship of the line is a term used for line ships. Sounds redundant, but basically they were one of two things, escorts or fleet ships. The whole concept of ship of the line comes from using a line formation to battle an opposing navy. Basically your first ship comes on it’s target(s) fires and books up on it’s given tack or wherever it has the wind guage. Said targets have no option but to engage the next ship in the line following the first ship, or disengage entirely, as the first ship is now gaining the wind guage to it’s aft (and possibly gaining an easy shot at said target’s aft which usually made a powder magazine or two go “kaboom”). We won’t even bother with the fact that you have more ships in. Eventually everyone was using line tactics and it became a nice large game of “death carousel”.

    In short, if memory serves, the only ships that sported enough displacement to tote around treasure and lay down the law by hefting around the massive tonnage 30-50 cannon required would be later Spanish Galleons. They were big enough to be used as Ships of the Line, not sure how often they were as they were provincial trading ships by design however. Cheaper in the long run because they rarely required escort.

    As for ship of war, that goes about easily. Any ship commandeered for use of military operations, whether it be daddy’s 16ft boston whaler to a nice 18th century 3rd rate ship of the line is a ship of war.

  7. (That’s my baby!)
    I’m thinking commandeered doesn’t count ~ you could probably argue the case. I’m guessing “flagged naval vessel” ~ regardless of purpose ~ precludes salvage rights by anybody but the country of origin.

  8. JeffS says:

    I have an easy solution to all of this: give it to Obama. He’s running out of money, after all.
    -> please note the following:

  9. Dave J. says:

    You know, my beloved alma mater, Tulane Law, is the leading admiralty school in the country. And yet, to my eternal shame, I never took a class in maritime law. For once, I must admit I have no idea about this legal issue.

  10. Bad, Dave! BAD! Of all the things to ignore, when you KNEW we’d need a definitive admiralty answer eventually.
    Of all the nerve…

  11. bingbing says:

    Initial reaction is PO!
    Love that comment about the Peruvians.
    The guys should at least get a decent cut. After all, they bothered to find it. If the Spaniards were so interested in it, they would have gone and found it themselves, right? Talk about plundering!
    Some great judges the US has there. Almost as bad as Australia.
    Your latest one is a straight-out racist. But that’s OK. She ain’t white.

  12. Ebola says:

    This is basically why I call myself an imperialist instead of a republican. Sorry, the Peruvians do not deserve a cut. They lost the conflict. I have severe problems with the concept that a loser or the generations of losers afterwards should regain what they lost for some pc demand of equality. It’s bullshit.

    Besides, if you really want to argue it that they should? Great, give the US back to the plains indians and I guess the arabs need to move out of north africa. Oh, wait, it’s great until you make it truely equivelant isn’t it? Screw that argument.

  13. greg newson says:

    1804,the concept of a nation as we view it now didn’t exist in Europe.They were principalities and kingdoms.This judge is a wacko.
    Spain has no more of a right to this cargo than
    any person with a Spanish surname living in the US.
    Perhaps, the company should give it to one of their partners who has a Spanish surname.Or even Pope
    Benedict could claim it also as tithing to the
    Spanish Church.
    This sickness is too depressing.Where there is
    money the parasites come out of the woodwork and
    suck blood..

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