Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX), a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration, has completed the current phase of the recovery operations on the SS Central America shipwreck project. The recovery ship, Odyssey Explorer, has returned to Charleston, South Carolina, for necessary repairs and installation of new equipment, which is expected to take approximately two to three weeks.
In addition to more than 15,500 gold and silver coins, 45 gold bars and hundreds of other gold nuggets, gold dust, jewelry and artifacts recovered from the shipwreck site over the past five months, an extensive amount of knowledge has been gained about the formation of the site. Significant sections of ship's structure, associated cultural heritage artifacts and coins were located some distance from the main shipwreck area, requiring excavation over a large area. Sizeable areas remain to be inspected and excavated outside the main shipwreck.
The Odyssey Explorer also recently completed a 161,000-square-meter, high-resolution video survey of the shipwreck and surrounding seabed. The extensive time involved conducting this planned site survey, as well as days of unworkable weather due to Hurricane Cristobal, resulted in a smaller than average inventory of items recovered during the past month. Operational reports and inventories of items recovered from the SS Central America that have been filed with the court are available at www.shipwreck.net/ssca.php.
While the shipyard work on the Odyssey Explorer is being performed, Odyssey and Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed Receiver of Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP), will evaluate information and data gathered from the 2014 operations including the new visual survey, to plan future operations. Depending on the results of this analysis operations at the SS Central America site could resume within the next 12 months.
"The recovery and survey work we completed on the site over the last 60 days has dramatically increased our knowledge of the extent and orientation of this wreck site," commented Mark Gordon, Odyssey's president and COO. "We now know that a significant amount of work remains to be performed in the debris field before this project can be considered completely processed. We hope to return to the Central America site before the end of the 2015 season depending on conclusions drawn from the analysis that will be completed over the next several months."
"Our team and the Receiver's team aboard the Odyssey Explorer have been working 24/7 over the past five months, so we agreed this would be an appropriate time to suspend recovery operations to take a break for repairs and review the work we've recently completed," continued Gordon. "We're pleased with the efficiency, results and profitability of the project to date and look forward to working with the Receiver to maximize returns for RLP and Odyssey as we monetize the recovered cargo."
After the repair and equipment installation is completed, Odyssey plans to conduct sea trials with the new Teledyne-Reson Dual SeaBat 7125 deep-tow system recently acquired to advance the company's deep 20th-century commodity shipwreck search and mineral exploration operations. The company then plans to deploy the Odyssey Explorer to one or more shipwreck projects off the coast of the southeastern United States, which may include additional operations at the Central America site, or pending final permitting, to a shipwreck project in a different operating area.