Shipwrecked Silver Travels back to Spain

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by mcollins07, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. mcollins07
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    mcollins07 Senior Member

    I expect many of you are familar with this story. It has been on discovery channel.


    http://www.scientificcomputing.com/...cked-Silver-Travels-back-to-Spain-030512.aspx

    On Discovery they said that Wikileaks released evidence that this was the result of unrelated political negotiations between US and Spain.

    I'm not expert on salvage laws, but from what I know this is a complete disregard to the existing laws. Can anyone explain why this is not a demonstration of "might makes right" by US government?
     
  2. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Correct, you are not an expert on salvage laws.

    A national warship cannot be held to salvage rights because it cannot be "abandoned". This is a long standing point of Admiralty Law, no matter what trolls whisper on the ether. By not securing premission rights first, they basicly tried to "steal" something from the Spanish government and people. In this way it is similiar to the HMS Edinburgh treasure, and the position has generally been adopted by all seafareing nations to prevent loss of national assets. The case really was open and shut once the ship was proved to be the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Edinburgh_(16)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  3. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Yup. The Spanish ship was not a cargo ship , it was a warship. The salvage company knew this. It is good to see that US courts respected law.

    It could be argued that the salvage company deserves recognition and perhaps a reward for recovering this Warships cargo , but this would be an issue between the salvage company and the Spanish Government .
     
  4. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Fly on the Wall - Miss ddt yet?

  5. Brian@BNE
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    Brian@BNE Senior Member

    No sympathy at all for Odyssey in this case - they tried to put one over the Spaniards, were almost certainly dishonest at times and have learnt an expensive lesson. Seem to have a different modus operandi now. I wish them well in new endeavors though. They do get out and have a go .....
     
  6. mcollins07
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    mcollins07 Senior Member

    Thanks for the explanation.

    I did realize the importance of the following statements:

    Odyssey had argued in federal court that the wreck was never positively identified as the Mercedes. And, if it was that vessel, the company contended, then the ship was on a commercial trade trip — not a sovereign mission — at the time it sank, meaning Spain would have no firm claim to the cargo.
     
  7. Milehog
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    And the Spanish stole the gold from what is now Peru.
     
  8. Brian@BNE
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    Brian@BNE Senior Member

    Ok, but the Peruvians couldn't get that argument to stick where it matters. They did try.
     
  9. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The Spanish did not steal the gold. It was war reparations and tribute to the crown. It was within the legal framework of the time. All world powers have enforced it at some time or another; including the USA.
     
  10. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Fly on the Wall - Miss ddt yet?

    I remember another old tradition: Finders keepers.
     
  11. Brian@BNE
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    Brian@BNE Senior Member

    Joking, right? The Spanish invaded. Pillaged, plundered and who knows what else.
     
  12. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    No, so did the British, the French, the Mongols, the Romans, the Zulus, etc. The Incas and Aztecs lost the war and had to pay for it. They were doing the same to the other nations they conquered.
     
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  13. Brian@BNE
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    Brian@BNE Senior Member

    Gonzo
    I had thought 'war reparations' applied to invaders who were subsequently defeated. eg Germany twice last century. But on reading a bit I now see it isn't limited to that. I'd summarize that its 'winner takes all', or at least all that they can get away with.

    Other examples of military conquest - same deal. But legalities of unprovoked invasions are moot to say the least. Winners do get first go at writing history, but it doesn't always survive the test of time. And once the eggs are scrambled you can't go back, but I did have a bit of sympathy for the Peru claim on the treasure. Perhaps Peru ought to have sought 'war reparations' from Spain after independence in the early 1800's? But there were a few distractions at the time.... I guess we are past the statute of limitations for that already....
     
  14. hoytedow
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  15. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    We can object morally about conquests of other civilizations. Even though not one nation is innocent. However, by the standards of their day, they were engaged in a legal enterprise.
     
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