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Footnotes The Search for HMS Sussex / Irish Jack

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The Search for HMS Sussex

On 27 December 1693, HMS Sussex, the Royal Navy flagship, left Portsmouth to escort a merchant fleet heading for Cadiz, Spain. There were 500 men on board and 80 cannons. Records suggest the ship was also charged with a secret mission: to bribe the Duke of savoy to ensure his loyalty in the war against the French. Unfortunately, the flagship was sunk in a storm off the coast of Gibraltar in 1694, losing all but two of its crew. Historic documents suggest a secret cargo of gold sovereigns, believed to be worth up to 2.5 billion, was lost with the vessel. One document, dated 12 December 1698, stated that the king (William of Orange) had ordered that "a million of money" be given to the fleet.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials have now approved a recovery plan in an attempt to retrieve the cargo. The wreck is at a depth of 2400 feet, although the precise location remains undisclosed. The site is under surveillance by the MoD and there will be tight security when Odyssey Marine Exploration, an American organisation, starts work on the wreck. An underwater probe, remotely operated from a ship, will excavate the shipwreck in the deepest archeological excavation of a 17th century shipwreck ever undertaken. Artefacts will be placed in aluminium barrels before being hauled to the surface. Odyssey Marine Exploration have already spent four years surveying wrecks in the area and 19 of HMS Sussex's cannons have already been identified at the site of the wreck.

Captain Riot

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