Odyssey Marine’s “Irish project”

The Irish Times’ marine correspondent, Lorna Siggins, notes an interesting addendum to the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration’s confirmation of the site of the SS Gairsoppa – and, potentially, 200 tonnes of silver.  From the Irish Times report

THE US marine exploration company which has located a British wartime shipwreck with £150 million worth of silver in the Atlantic has also been surveying southwest Irish waters where there are a number of “commodity” wrecks.

The Naval Service has confirmed that it notified the company’s research ship Odyssey Explorer some weeks ago that it should notify the Irish authorities of its activities.

It said the Naval Service came across the vessel surveying some 25 miles west of the Blasket islands, in Co Kerry on August 2nd.

Under international law, a ship undertaking scientific research should inform the relevant state, and should be licensed to tow a sidescan sonar in territorial waters.

Odyssey Marine Exploration told The Irish Times yesterday that it has been working off the Irish coast, but outside territorial waters. It would not divulge details of the work.

It said the Irish project was separate to that involving the successful location last week of the SS Gairsoppa with 200 tonnes of silver on board – said to be in 4,700 metres of water some 300 miles off the Irish coast.

The Irish Times report goes on to say

A number of vessels, including so-called “commodity ships” were sunk in the busy wartime shipping lane off the southwest Irish coast. As these ships are less than 100 years old, they are not protected under the 1987 National Monuments Act.

The Department of Heritage confirmed the Odyssey Explorer had recently been working a sea corridor near Tearaght Island, the most westerly of the Blaskets.


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  • If you are saying that the Irish Government has a claim on these alleged silver resources, for 20% of £155 million of silver, there’s only one answer.

    Four words: See you in Court.

    Our learned friends are already booking their future cruises.

  • Pete Baker

    Mind-reading doesn’t work, Malcolm.

    But, as Odyssey Marine are finding out with the ‘Black Swan’ and the Spanish government, they aren’t always keeping on the right side of the law in their exploration.

    Given the circumstances, the SS Gairsoppa would seem to fairly easily qualify for sovereign immunity.

    The linked post is about a different theatre, but this quote sums up the situation as I understand it.

    A Coastal State does not acquire ownership of a sunken state vessel by reason of its being located on, or embedded in, land or the seabed over which it exercises sovereignty or jurisdiction. However, access to such sunken state vessels within a Coastal State’s archipelagic waters, territorial sea or contiguous zone, is subject to Coastal State control under international law. Access to sunken vessels beyond the limits stated in the preceding sentence is subject to Flag State control even though they may be still within a Coastal State’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

    What the original post is noting is that there appears to be a disagreement about where, exactly, Odyssey Marine were exploring.

    With, or without, the necessary permission.

  • Noted. Agreed.

    Slightly to one side: “Marine Correspondent”. Isn’t it amazing just how frequently the girl can change her appellation?

  • JR

    There is a big difference between 300miles out in the atlantic and “near Tearaght Island”. I would say this is somthing the Irish government would do well to keep a close eye on.

  • casey1621

    Regarding Pete Baker’s comment on Odyssey Marine’s Black Swan case and being on the right side of the law, it appears the U.S. Government’s interest in the case may not be above board as noted in the articles below:


  • Pete Baker


    The most recent post on your linked website is merely a cut-and-paste of Odyssey’s own press release on 5 January.

    But, as I noted in the earlier post on Odyssey Marine, linked in the original post above and which you’ve also commented on, events have moved on since then.