Gold Recovered During First Reconnaissance Dive Indicates SS Central America Has Not Been Disturbed Since 1991
Expedition to Conduct Pre-Disturbance Survey, Archaeological Excavation, Scientific Experiments and Recover Remaining Gold Now Underway
TAMPA, Fla., May 5, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) Press Release — Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX), a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration, recovered nearly 1,000 ounces of gold during the first reconnaissance dive to the SS Central America shipwreck site on April 15,2014.
Recovered gold included five gold ingots and two $20 Double Eagle coins (one 1857 minted in San Francisco and one 1850 minted in Philadelphia). The gold ingots were stamped with assayer’s marks and weights that range from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.
The two-hour reconnaissance dive was conducted during the transit of Odyssey’s research vessel, the Odyssey Explorer, from the United Kingdom to Charleston, South Carolina, to mobilize for the project, which is being conducted under contract with the receiver of Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP). RLP director of operations Craig Mullen and RLP chief scientist/historian Bob Evans accompanied the Odyssey team for the dive operation. Mr. Evans previously served as chief scientist, historian and later as curator for the initial Central America recovery operations conducted between 1988 and 1991.
During the dive, Odyssey’s ROV ZEUS flew over the shipwreck to assess the current condition of the site. Gold ingots and other artifacts were clearly visible on the surface of the site during the dive and no excavation was required for their removal. Given the reconnaissance purpose of the dive, only five gold ingots, two gold coins, a bottle, a piece of pottery, a sample of the shipwreck’s wooden structure, and an element of a scientific experiment that was left at the site more than 20 years ago were recovered. The positions of the recovered artifacts were documented for archaeological purposes and will be noted in the detailed site plan that is being created. The archaeological excavation of the site will be undertaken once the pre-disturbance survey provides detailed documentation of the site.
“This dive confirms for me that the site has not been disturbed since 1991, when I was last there,” said Bob Evans chief scientist/historian for RLP.
RLP director of operations Craig Mullen added, “The skill exhibited and results achieved during the initial reconnaissance dive reinforces our belief that the Odyssey team was the absolute best choice for this project. In addition to the cargo recovery operation, we plan to collect deep-ocean biological samples for Dr. Timothy Shank, a deep-ocean biologist and head of the Molecular Ecology and Evolution Laboratory at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Our objective is to document and provide Dr. Shank with samples of species that have returned to the site since previous operations ended. Odyssey’s documentation capabilities will contribute significantly to scientific understanding of deep-ocean biological processes. This continues a history of supporting scientific research at the site.”
Odyssey was selected for the project by Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed receiver who represents Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) and Columbus Exploration LLC (CE). The contract has been approved by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio, which has given Mr. Kane responsibility with overseeing the recovery project.
The archaeological excavation, valuable cargo recovery and ship-board conservation will be conducted and underwritten by Odyssey on behalf of RLP. In return, Odyssey will receive 80% of recovery proceeds until a fixed mobilization fee and a negotiated day rate are paid. Thereafter, Odyssey will receive 45% of the recovery proceeds.
About the SS Central America
The SS Central America was an 85-meter (280-foot) wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted side-wheel steamship launched in 1853 as the SS George Law. Operating during the California Gold Rush era, the ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco, making 43 round trips between New York and Panama. The Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina on September 12, 1857. When she was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.
The Columbus-America Discovery Group, acting as agent for RLP, confirmed the location of the Central America shipwreck site in September 1988 at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). Recovery operations were conducted over a four-year period (1988-1991) and a large quantity of commercial gold was recovered from approximately 5% of the shipwreck site during more than 1,000 hours of bottom time.
Odyssey Marine Exploration has been awarded the exclusive contract to conduct an archaeological excavation and recover the remaining valuable cargo from the SS Central America shipwreck.
Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) was organized in 1985 as an Ohio limited partnership to finance the SS Central America project. Columbus-American Discovery Group LLC (CADG), as agent for RLP, initiated an admiralty action in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia to establish ownership of the shipwreck and all of its contents. After more than a decade of litigation, the court ruled that CADG owned 92.5% of the recovered gold.
Ira Owen Kane was appointed as the receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration LLC by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio. At the direction of the court, the goal of the receiver is to preserve and operate the business of RLP and Columbus Exploration for the benefit of the investors and their creditors, and to do so by initiating the operations necessary to recover valuable cargo and cultural heritage items that remain on the SS Central America shipwreck site.
About Odyssey Marine Exploration
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX) is engaged in deep-ocean exploration using innovative methods and state of-the-art technology for shipwreck projects and mineral exploration. For additional details, please visit www.odysseymarine.com. The company also maintains a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/OdysseyMarine and a Twitter feed @OdysseyMarine. For additional details on Odyssey Marine Exploration, please visit www.odysseymarine.com.
Forward Looking Information
Odyssey Marine Exploration believes the information set forth in this Press Release may include “forward looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934. Certain factors that could cause results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements are set forth in “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 17, 2014. The financial and operating projections as well as estimates of mining assets are based solely on the assumptions developed by Odyssey that it believes are reasonable based upon information available to Odyssey as of the date of this release. All projections and estimates are subject to material uncertainties, and should not be viewed as a prediction or an assurance of actual future performance. The validity and accuracy of Odyssey’s projections will depend upon unpredictable future events, many of which are beyond Odyssey’s control and, accordingly, no assurance can be given that Odyssey’s assumptions will prove true or that its projected results will be achieved.
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