Experts Seek Sunken Treasure
Off Scotland


LONDON (Reuters) - Salvage teams on Wednesday launched a hunt for a huge haul of sunken treasure looted 350 years ago after a bloody battle in Scotland.
English firm Subsea Explorer Ltd said it will use mini-submarines in its $1,523,100 search for gold, jewels and coins lost off the eastern Scottish port of Dundee in September 1651.
"The hunt could become one of the biggest and most historically significant searches and salvage operations ever mounted in UK waters," the search team said in a statement.
The lost cargo's value is the subject of fierce debate, with estimates ranging from 60,000 pounds to 2.5 billion pounds.
The treasure was looted from the defeated Scots on the orders of Oliver Cromwell, the 17th century English ruler who established parliamentary rule and fought royalist Scots after the English Civil War.
Scots noblemen had stored their property in Dundee because they thought it was the safest town in Scotland.
But it was plundered by Cromwell's right-hand man, General George Monck, whose troops stormed the city and loaded the booty onto 60 ships.
The fleet put out to sea only to meet disaster less than a mile offshore when the ships are believed to have hit a sandbank and sunk beneath the Tay Estuary where they have lain undisturbed for centuries.
The mystery could finally be solved this summer with the help of technology used to explore the wreck of the Titanic, the British passenger liner which sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912.
Subsea, which gives submarine tours of the Titanic, believes the Tay treasure lies under a few feet of sand, about 40 ft (12.1 m) below the surface.
"We have the best technology and the best people behind us," Gary Allsopp, Subsea's chief executive, said in a statement. "I am confident that if there are sizeable amounts of metal down there, we will find them."
Subsea will be working with experts from Scotland's oldest university, St. Andrews, and the Scottish Natural Heritage conservation group, who are already mapping the seabed with acoustic technology.
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