TAMPA, Fla., March 6, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Odyssey Marine
Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX), a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean
exploration, has been awarded the exclusive contract to conduct an
archaeological excavation and recover the remaining valuable cargo from
the SS Central America shipwreck located approximately 160 miles off
the coast of South Carolina. The ship, which was immortalized in the
best-selling book, “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea,” sank in 1857
with one of the largest documented cargoes of gold ever lost at sea.
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
jurisdiction over Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration
LLC. Kane is charged by the court with overseeing the recovery project
and has the benefit of a permanent injunction and exclusive salvage
rights over the SS Central America shipwreck granted by the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia.
“We are excited about returning to the SS Central America and welcome
the opportunity to work with Odyssey Marine Exploration on this
historic undertaking. We are confident that Odyssey’s unparalleled
experience, superbly qualified personnel and state-of-the-art equipment
will build on the successes of the first recovery effort, which has
been characterized as a story of American initiative, ingenuity and
determination,” stated Kane.
“After conducting an exhaustive review of the extensive amount of
historical research available on the shipwreck, our experts estimate
the shipwreck still holds a commercial shipment of gold that was valued
at approximately $93,000 in 1857, as well as a substantial amount of
passenger gold valued in 1857 between $250,000 and $1,280,000. The
expert we retained to analyze the extensive collection of records and
contemporary accounts of the shipwreck places the most likely 1857 face
value of the total remaining passenger and commercial gold at $760,000.
The ultimate value of the recovery can only be determined once the
total quantity, quality and form of the recovered gold is known,” added
The archaeological excavation, valuable cargo recovery and ship-board
conservation will be conducted and underwritten by Odyssey. In return,
the company 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. Odyssey is presently
preparing its recovery vessel, the Odyssey Explorer, to begin work on
the site in April utilizing the company’s equipment and personnel.
The SS Central America shipwreck site was discovered in 1987 at a depth
of approximately 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) and less than 5% of the site
was investigated at that time. An extensive collection of gold coins,
bullion and raw gold were recovered from the site during the following
years. The salvors have not returned to the site for more than two
decades as lengthy legal battles played out. In May 2013, the court
appointed Kane as receiver to supervise the resumption of recovery
“Our teams have been studying the extensive research and records of the
earlier work accomplished on the site as well as research from our own
archives,” noted Mark Gordon, Odyssey’s president and chief operating
officer. “We expect the project to move forward quickly since we have
access to all the previous records and images, which provide us with a
great overview of the shipwreck. This has allowed us to begin planning
operations that will focus on the most interesting and prospective
areas of the site after we have completed a pre-disturbance survey and
Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s CEO, commented, “The SS Central America is one of
the greatest shipwreck stories of all time. We’re honored to be working
with the Receiver and his team to share the next chapter of this
historically important shipwreck with the world.
“We’re very familiar with mid-19th century paddlewheel shipwrecks, as
well as the range of artifacts that are likely to be on the site. We
have extensive experience with the tools and techniques required for
this archaeological excavation, which will be very similar to the
successful recovery of more than 51,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from
the SS Republic completed by Odyssey 10 years ago. We’re also
experienced in working at extreme depths. The SS Central America is
less than half the 4,700 meter (15,000 feet) depth of the SS Gairsoppa,
from which we successfully recovered nearly $80 million in silver over
the past two years.”
“The SS Central America project builds upon our pipeline of existing
shipwreck recovery contracts, where our compensation rights are secured
and legal issues resolved prior to cargo recovery,” added Gordon. “As
previously stated, we intend to target one or more shipwreck cargo
recoveries each year totaling at least $50 million annually, with the
intention of generating a substantial dependable flow of revenue for
many years to come. We plan to pursue other shipwreck projects in 2014,
and the Central America project provides a great addition to our
About the SS Central America
The SS Central America was a wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed,
three-masted sidewheel steamship launched in 1852 as the SS George Law.
The ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama
Route between New York and San Francisco. Owned and operated by the
United States Mail Steamship Company, the SS Central America was caught
in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857.
When it 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.
Great personal fortunes were lost as well. The Central America carried
477 passengers, mostly miners and businessmen returning east from
California with their personal possessions and fortunes in gold
accumulated after years of prospecting during the Gold Rush.
The SS Central America shipwreck site was confirmed in 1987, and over a
three-year period more than 1,000 hours of bottom time, a large
quantity of commercial gold was recovered from approximately 5% of the
SS Central America shipwreck. This gold was ultimately marketed and
sold in a series of auctions and private sales.
Gold previously recovered from the SS Central America included rare
territorial coins and many highly sought-after mint state Double Eagle
$20 gold pieces and rare ingots. The coins and ingots from the site
have seen continued strong interest from collectors over the years.
About Recovery Limited Partnership
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
and issued permanent injunctions that prohibit any party other than
CADG or RPL from conducting operations related to the site.
Ira Owen Kane is the appointed receiver for Recovery Limited
Partnership and Columbus Exploration LLC by order of 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 historic shipwreck projects, modern commodity shipwreck projects
and subsea mineral exploration. Odyssey also provides contracting
services, including proprietary deep-ocean expertise and equipment, to
governments and companies around the world.
Odyssey discovered the Civil War-era shipwreck of the SS Republic in
2003 and recovered over 51,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site
nearly 518 meters (1,700 feet) deep. Of the coins recovered from the SS
Republic, 2,675 were $20 Double Eagle gold coins and 1,460 were $10
Eagle gold coins. The majority of these gold coins were sold by Odyssey
in 2004 and 2005 at wholesale prices to numismatic coin dealers for an
average of approximately $6,700 per coin.
Odyssey offers various ways to share in the excitement of deep-ocean
exploration by making shipwreck treasures and artifacts available to
the general public, students, and collectors through its webstore,
exhibits, books, television, merchandise, educational programs and
virtual museum located at www.OdysseysVirtualMuseum.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