--- On Mon, 2/2/09, Dan Hull <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Dan Hull <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [BRITARCH] Wreck of 'The Victory' salvage claim
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, 2 February, 2009, 3:38 PM
Wreck of 'The Victory' salvage claim
Controversy about commercial salvage surrounds new claims of the discovery
of the HMS Victory sunk in 1744.
There is widespread interest in the reported finding of a wreck off Guernsey
that may be that of the British flagship, The Victory (the predecessor to
Nelson's flagship of the same name) which went down with all hands in 1744.
The discovery is due to be announced today by Odyssey Marine Exploration, an
American commercial salvage company. The wreck is likely to be of great
archaeological interest, but potentially also very attractive for the monetary
value of dozens of bronze cannon and other finds preserved on it.
If the wreck is a British warship then it should be protected by 'sovereign
immunity', as property of the state, and there should be no question of its
exploitation for salvage, or indeed for the unwarranted disturbance of the last
resting place of the hundreds of seamen who went down with the ship. Although
the UK Government has been unwilling to ratify the UNESCO Convention on the
Protection of Underwater Heritage (which came into force earlier this year) it
has publicly endorsed the principles of the Convention as set out in its Annex.
This specifically disallows the sale of artefacts from historic wrecks and
requires that the first priority should be the preservation of historic remains
in situ, including due respect for human remains.
The CBA is a member of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee and
supports its position on the protection of wrecks in international waters:
Dr Mike Heyworth, CBA Director, said:
"The Government must honour its commitment to the spirit of the UNESCO
Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage and to the Annex
which it has adopted. There should be no question of negotiation with any
commercial salvors in this situation.
If this reported wreck proves to be the lost British flagship, the Victory,
then it is undoubtedly of national significance. An archaeological discovery of
this outstanding importance on land would be subject to legal protection and
there would be no question of unnecessary excavation or the selling of finds to
finance the operation. At sea, however, such discoveries are still governed by
an antiquated system of salvage law. In the case of a sovereign vessel, such as
a British warship, there is no question about the UK Government's right to
determine the appropriate treatment of a wreck in international waters. We
look forward to a Government statement shortly on this case and hope it will
bring forward the opportunity once again to review the reform of UK salvage
Stay in touch with the CBA website for further news on this issue:
There has also been coverage of this issue today in the following: