Strapped Nations Seek Revenue in Sunken Treasure

US firm tracks long-lost cargo
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2011 11:17 AM CDT
Strapped Nations Seek Revenue in Sunken Treasure
An Odyssey photo of a cannon on the shipwreck site of HMS Victory bearing the royal crest of King George I, in the English Channel.   (AP Photo/Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.)

(Newser) – Here's an alternative way to fix the deficit: Find long-lost treasure beneath the waves. Sounds like a fairy tale, but the British government has contracted a US firm twice this year to track down the remnants of shipwrecks. One is the British steam ship Mantola that sunk in 1917, carrying 20 tons of silver—$18 million worth by today's standards, the New York Times reports. Odyssey Marine Exploration says it's identified the ship using a robot.

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Now the firm will try to get the silver back; the company will keep 80% of the findings, while Britain gets 20%. Another sunken British vessel discovered last month has some $200 million worth of silver. A number of governments have been looking to such wrecks to help recoup money in a time of economic turmoil. It's all possible thanks to the latest undersea-exploration technology, ranging from robots to lights to cameras. "A lot of new and interesting opportunities are presenting themselves," says Odyssey's CEO. Click through for video and pictures of the wrecks. (Read more treasure stories.)

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