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Utah company salvaging sunken ship

Utah company salvaging sunken ship


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John Hollenhorst reportingA Utah company is showing off some amazing artifacts it's recovered from the bottom of the ocean. They date back more than 200 years, to the aftermath of a naval battle that may seem like something out of the movies.

In the epic movie, "Master and Commander", Russell Crowe commands a British vessel in a cat-and-mouse game with a French ship of the line. In real life, in 1782, one of those went to the bottom, and now it's ripe for the plucking by a Utah salvage company.

The guns in the movies are a lot like those we saw in Midvale. Kept in water until preservation efforts begin, they are two huge 9-foot cannons. They're from a French ship that has lain undisturbed on the bottom of the Atlantic for 225 years.

Wilf Blum, C.E.O. of Deep Blue Marine, said, "It's just pristine. It's like nothing I've ever seen in my life."

The Utah company has a salvage and recovery contract with the man who discovered the wreck in 1978. It's in a shallow bay on the shoreline of the Dominican Republic. In recent months, the Dominican government allowed Deep Blue Marine to anchor a boat above and send divers below.

Diver Karli Blum says she's mapped the locations of 53 of the 74 cannons the ship carried to the bottom. "Cannons sticking up everywhere, just laying down, in the ground, it's amazing. I've never seen anything like it," she said.

The ship has been identified as the French warship Le Scipion. Like the French ship-of-the-line in the movie, it battled two British ships in 1782, inflicting major damage on one.

"The Scipion then made her escape, came into Samana Bay and struck a coral head while anchoring and, it appears, sunk in about 20 minutes," Blum said.

Under the agreement with the Dominican Republic, the Utah company gets 50 percent of what it brings up from the bottom.

"We have found several hundred coins, we have found a lot of silver things," Blum said.

So far there's no big treasure to report, although Deep Blue Marine has found numerous artifacts besides the big guns. The company has been in the investor-recruiting mode for a couple of years to finance its unpredictable enterprise. "Never invest anything you can't afford to lose. This is a risky business," Blum said.

The company has been driving the cannons across the country to show off to investors. They'll also do school presentations.

And by the way, the 4,500 pound guns we saw are only medium size. The 12-footers from Le Scipion's lower deck weigh more than 7,000 pounds.

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