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The wreck of HMS Victory is at risk from looters

Ian Harvey

The wreckage of the 18th century Royal Navy battleship, the HMS Victory, is currently endangered by looters.

Currently the wreck is sitting at the bottom of the English Channel, with many priceless goods still aboard. The Channel is a well-known waterway for looters, who attempt to find the many wrecks that lie beneath the waves and scavenge for valuable items.

HMS Victory (1737)

HMS Victory (1737)

The HMS Victory was first located in 2008, but its wreck still remains at the bottom of the Channel because of legal restrictions and controversy over if and how it should be raised.

Two nearby shipwrecks have already been looted, worrying researchers that it is just a matter of time before the HMS Victory is looted completely. The famous battleship was sunk in 1744 and is said to have been the greatest battleship in its day.

It was the American Odyssey Marine Exploration team who found the HMS Victory, and discovered it still had 41 of its original total 110 bronze cannons intact at the bottom of the Channel. Ever since the wreckage has unfortunately been left to ruin, with recovery attempts being hampered by bureaucracy.

HMS VIKTORY

HMS VIKTORY

When HMS Victory first set sale in 1737 it was the most technically advanced and strongest battleship on the seas. Researchers believe that a cannon and lead ingots worth over $1 million have already been looted from other nearby ships. Archaeologists leading the campaign to have the wreck resurfaced and rescued say that it will be disappointing for the HMS Victory to go the same way as its neighbouring shipwrecks.

Restoring HMS Victory (William Lionel Wyllie, 1925)

Restoring HMS Victory (William Lionel Wyllie, 1925)

These researchers also suggest that many of the finds on the ship are valuable not only in monetary worth, but also in historical value.

The HMS Victory required a crew of over a thousand men. It returned from a victory in Lisbon and Gibraltar over the French, but ultimately hit a storm that took her under the waves. It is thought that the sheer weight of the ship was too much for the stormy seas.