Odyssey Marine Exploration is expected to announce that it has found HMS Victory, the forerunner of Nelson's famous flagship of the same name.
HMS Victory was a 100-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions of the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Portsmouth Dockyard, and launched on 23 February 1737. She was wrecked with the loss of her entire crew whilst returning to England as the flagship of Admiral Sir John Balchen after relieving Sir Charles Hardy, who had been blockaded in the Tagus estuary.
The ship has long been sought by salvagers because of its cargo of 100 brass cannons, thought to be engraved with dolphins and the monogram of George II. She was the last British First Rate to be armed entirely with brass cannon
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that Odyssey, a Florida-based archeology company, had reported the find. “Odyssey claim it is the Victory but we can’t confirm its identity until we have seen a full report,” he said.
The company is due to announce the find tomorrow at a press conference attended by a descendant of one of the crew.
Mike Williams, a law lecturer at Wolverhampton University and an expert on the legal status of wrecks, said he believed the find could be “the big one” because of the cannons.
“The advantage of brass is that it doesn’t rust,” he said. “Archeologists have recovered brass guns from the sea virtually undamaged, in comparison with iron guns which have been unrecognisable.”
Ahead of the expected announcement at a news conference in London on Monday, Odyssey Marine Exploration's CEO Greg Stemm said the firm was negotiating with Britain over collaborating on the project.