Search Underway For 17th-Century Shipwreck Carrying Treasure Worth £4 Billion Off UK Coast

Shipwreck
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On lying undisturbed on the seabed for centuries, ‘El Dorado of the Seas’ can eventually reveal the secrets. The Merchant Royal’s shipwreck is off the Cornwall Coast but has never been discovered despite being loaded with up to £4 billion of gold and many other precious metals.

Whoever finds it might get hands-on more treasures than Long John Silver. However, there’s no X to mark the exact spot. Earlier attempts to find the 400-year-old vessel have returned with nothing. However, a UK firm is now convinced they can do it.

Former fisherman and specialist diver Nigel Hodge spearheads a team of 11 individuals at Multibeam Services. This firm specializes in discovering lost wrecks and is now setting out on the search in the next month. He plans on spending 2024 searching for the wreck, covering an area of 200 square miles of the English Channel.

It isn’t merely a gold rush, Nigel reported to Metro.co.uk, although he believes that the wreck could easily be worth several billions. Owing to strict laws on who owns the treasure discovered, the days of individuals locating a massive pile of gold and turning rich overnight are well gone.

He says his lure lies in discovering the answers, with precious cargoes set to be heritage artefacts. New tech can help solve this mystery, as the firm has unmanned underwater vessels worth 3.5 million and capable of going almost 6,000 meters—deeper than even the deepest part of the search zone—as well as new sonar tech.

Nigel says the search will be difficult, though, with the stretch where it sank notoriously perilously. There are numerous shipwrecks, and the Merchant Royal is just one of them. So, the researchers have to pick through many wrecks as they are doing them and then accurately identify them.

It is not quite straightforward. Had it been straightforward, it would have been carried out. Based in Redruth and deploying many other ex-fishermen, he strongly believes his firm is in a good position to succeed where the others failed owing to its local knowledge of waters and the latest technological advancements.

The wreck had gone down on the way to Dartmouth on September 23, back in 1641, stopping off at Spain’s port of Cadiz, where it had been repaired and taken on more cargo on the way back from the Caribbean and Mexico. It also had payment for 30,000 soldiers based at Flanders and treasures from the New World, including 400 bars of Mexican silver and 500,000 pieces of eight.

A report on the wreck from 1641 held in the British Library mentioned that it was loaded with 300,000 ready bologna, 100,000 pounds in gold, and as much value as jewels. Historians haven’t yet agreed on a figure for how much treasure may have been on board, and there is some debate about whether the 100,000 pounds of gold meant in terms of currency/weight.

But at the lowest estimate, the treasure on the vessel will still be worth some thousands of pounds. The cargo sank to the sea base, along with 18 crew members. Her sister vessel in the Merchant Dover convoy safely rescued almost 40 individuals, including Captain John Limbrey.

The loss at the time was so significant that the proceedings in the House of Commons were halted for the news, and King Charles I described the event as the most critical loss to be sustained in a vessel.

Even though it has been lost for 400 years, the search heated up in 2019 when a fishing boat dubbed the Spirited Lady hauled up an anchor that was thought to belong to the missing vessel.

However, if the wreck is eventually discovered, it might not look as one would typically expect, as in the days the vessels were made out of wood, which would’ve long since decayed away. All one can see would be metal parts like cannons, the anchor – that may now be on land – and the treasure itself, if it hasn’t been secretly taken and not declared.

Multibeam Services has found lost wrecks and a sunken pirate vessel loaded with treasure in 2023 – even though Nigel says that we will have to wait for the documentary for details.

A documentary crew will follow his effort to locate one of the world’s most famous wrecks from the next month hosted by Jason Fox, the former special forces soldier and commando.

Some will say that it is a needle in a haystack, per Nigel. He added that he would not say it is quite that, but it’s a vast area, and they have got the elements to deal with.

There is also the need to wait for certain conditions to be able to make use of the equipment. His team will base themselves in the Isles of Scilly to avoid having to cross back from the mainland.

If they find it, Nigel is realistic that it won’t be a story of marine archaeologists purchasing a Lamborghini—but if £4 billion is on board, he will undoubtedly at least get a lucrative finders’ fee.

Reference: MSN

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Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

About Author

Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

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