Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mystery Marriage Madness

Who are these people and why did they get married?

I can't help it if we love contests around here. It's just a fact, probably because no one ever enters and we never have to really give anything away. So in keeping with that tradition -- don't you DARE enter and win -- who the heck is the married couple pictured here? That's right, just name these two people and you will win a free book. What kind of book, you ask? What kind do you want? Old, new, auto-graphed. TFA has a Dennis Lehane book of short stories he'd be willing to give up, signed by The Dennis himself. Of course its signed to TFA -- "Good luck with your stupid writing." Still, it is Dennis. How about you pick what book you'd like, and I'll try to deliver.

Who and why, best correct answer wins. I'm the sole judge.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Odyssey Uncovers French Privateer

Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX) yesterday released extensive details about their discovery and archaeological investigation of La Marquise de Tourny, the first privateering frigate to be found in the international waters of the western English Channel. The shipwreck site, discovered at a depth of 80 meters during Odyssey’s ‘Atlas’ shipwreck survey – the most extensive offshore archaeological survey ever conducted – reveals a pile of iron cannon, mystery concretions, ballast and small artifacts, which are all significant clues to revealing La Marquise de Tourny’s fascinating place in history.

“The Marquise de Tourny is one of our most important discoveries in the English Channel”, said Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Odyssey is committed to exploring and investigating deep-ocean shipwreck sites, such as the Marquise de Tourny, as part of our ongoing mission to bring the mystery and history of shipwrecks back to the light of day for the benefit of both the public and academic communities. Our advanced remote archaeological tools and technology allow us to conduct extensive archaeological documentation of sites like this, which sadly have revealed extensive signs of trawling damage and natural deterioration. Unfortunately this type of damage has been common to virtually every site we have discovered in the English Channel, which makes it clear that the policy of in situ preservation of shipwrecks, at least in this area, is simply not practical. It won’t be long before this site will be completely erased from history, which makes it all the more important for the private sector to step in and help with projects like this.”

The wreckage covers 35 x 25 meters from a frigate heavily armed with 25 iron cannon up to 3.2 meters long, some incised with French fleur de lis symbols. The Odyssey marine operation’s team painstakingly recorded fragments of blue glass French bottles, patches of lead hull sheathing and 13 massive concretions holding around 600 iron ingots. The star find was the ship’s bell, a crucial piece of information that names the vessel in Latin as La Marquise de Tourny and gives its launch date as the year 1744. The bell is lavishly decorated with a Cross of Calvary, a dolphin and three royal French fleur de lis.

Historical research by Odyssey shows that La Marquise de Tourny was a product of the War of the Austrian Succession, a great colonial struggle for control of maritime trade in the Caribbean, Americas and Europe between England, Spain and France that lasted from 1739 to 1748. The ship was a 460-ton frigate of Bordeaux named in honor of the wife of the Marquis de Tourny, Louis Urbain Aubert de Tourny, the royal administrative appointee who transformed Bordeaux into the most beautiful city in France.

The frigate was built for privateering, a legal form of piracy in which governments gave individuals a ‘letter of marque’ to attack enemy vessels and seize and sell their cargoes. La Marquise de Tourny was quite successful in her career as a privateer, having captured a number of English vessels among her prizes, including the Mortimer in 1747 and both the Finey and Charleston of Liverpool in 1746. Her final voyage likely took her from Bordeaux up the Channel to the French ports of St. Malo, Cherbourg, Dunkirk or Calais when she was lost in the late 1740s or early 1750s. The wreck of the Marquise de Tourny is the first privateer to be found off the UK.

According to Dr. Sean Kingsley, Director of Wreck Watch Int., who consulted with Odyssey on the research of the wreck, “Other than two French privateers found off Canada and France, the Marquise de Tourny is the only other corsair of this age known in the world. It is a rare symbol of the mid-18th century need to fuse business with warfare at a time when naval fleets were small. Many sea captains dreamed of finding enemy ships stuffed with treasure and becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams. In reality, the art of privateering was fool’s gold. In the war of 1739 to 1748 our new research shows that while the English seized 3,316 enemy ships, the French and Spanish in turn captured 3,493 English vessels. This was ultimately a lose-lose situation for the economy of Europe that ended in a political stalemate.”

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) is engaged in the exploration of deep-ocean shipwrecks and uses innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to conduct extensive search and archaeological recovery operations around the world.

Since its inauguration in 1994, Odyssey has mapped more than 10,000 square miles of seabed and discovered hundreds of shipwrecks ranging from 3rd century BC Punic sites to U-boats and Colonial warships. Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of the SS Republic® in 2003 and recovered over 50,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site nearly 1,700 feet deep. In May

2007, the Company announced the historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named “Black Swan.”

In February 2009, Odyssey announced the discovery in the English Channel of Admiral Sir John Balchin’s HMS Victory, the greatest warship in the age of sail. Odyssey also has an exclusive agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom for the archaeological excavation of HMS Sussex, an English warship that sank near Gibraltar in 1694.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Redhead of the Week Gets Under Your Skin

Tattoo artist Kat Von D, or Katherine Drachenberg, has been in the news lately for dating some guy named Jesse who used to be married to to some big actress. Apparently, Jesse saw Kat on the television show LA Ink, had to have an image of Sandra Bullock tattoed on his ass, and flew out to meet Ms Von D. Or maybe not.

Anyway, Kat, 28, born in South America, moved at age 4 to Colton, California, where the Famous Author used win drag racing trophies. Lot of cement factories in Colton. Kat worked on TV's Miami Ink for the first three seasons, but was asked to leave. According to Wikipedia, Kat has said she hasn't spoken with members of Miami Ink since her departure.

I don't think she's really a redhead, but we found the photo, and that's good enough around here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Odyssey Finds Another Treasure

If you want to know who or what OMEX is, catch up with the previous post. I don't have time to explain. In their earnings press releases last week, Odyssey Marine Exploration talked about a hundred things before they got around to this paragraph, buried near the close:

"Based on preliminary results, there is evidence suggesting that at least one of the 'Robert Fraser Project' target shipwrecks has been located. Additional analysis and investigation is currently underway."

The lawyers don't let OMEX say things like that unless they're pretty darn sure. How big is it? Where is it? Can we bring that bad boy up and sell the hell out of her gold coins?

The stock went down a little, probably because it's doubled already this year. I'm not the only investor expecting big things.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

OMEX Wins Hearing on Appeal

Hot Off the Wires: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. has been notified that the Company's Request for Oral Arguments in the "Black Swan" case has been granted. The hearings are tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of February 28, 2011.

Generally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where this case is pending, hears oral arguments in approximately 25% of all appeals cases. Odyssey is appealing the district court's dismissal of the "Black Swan" case based on the district court's finding of lack of federal court jurisdiction.

"We are looking forward to presenting oral arguments in the 'Black Swan' case to the appellate court. We believe the district court incorrectly dismissed the case based upon clearly erroneous factual findings and flawed legal analysis of basic admiralty principles and the concept of sovereign immunity," said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. "In addition, Odyssey and the other claimants in the case were denied their right to due process because the district court failed to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the disputed issues of fact."

Additional appeals have been filed by groups who have presented documentation indicating that if Spain is correct, and the recovered cargo originated from the Mercedes, they are descendants of the owners of Mercedes' cargo and have legitimate property rights. Those claimants have recognized Odyssey's archaeological recovery efforts and have acknowledged Odyssey's right to a salvage award. Their pleadings focus on the Eleventh Circuit's recent opinion in the Aqua Log case (Aqua Log, Inc. vs. State of Georgia, 594 F.3d 1330, 11th Cir. 2010) which requires a sovereign to have possession of property in order to claim that the property is immune from the jurisdiction of the court. They also point out that if the court does not have jurisdiction, it has no authority to transfer possession of the property to anyone but Odyssey which had possession prior to the litigation.

In May 2007, Odyssey announced the discovery of the "Black Swan," a Colonial-period site located in the Atlantic Ocean which yielded over 500,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold, and other artifacts. Odyssey completed an extensive pre-disturbance survey of the "Black Swan" site, which included recording over 14,000 digital still images used to create a photomosaic of the site.

The coins and artifacts were brought into the United States with a valid export license and imported legally pursuant to U.S. law. Odyssey brought the artifacts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court by filing an Admiralty arrest action. This procedure allows any legitimate claimant with an interest in the property to make a claim.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX) is engaged in the exploration of deep-ocean shipwrecks and uses innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to conduct extensive search and archaeological recovery operations around the world. Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of the SS Republic(R) in 2003 and recovered over 50,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site nearly 1,700 feet deep. In May 2007, Odyssey announced the historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named "Black Swan." In February 2009, Odyssey announced the discovery of Balchin's HMS Victory. Odyssey also has other shipwreck projects in various stages of development around the world.