A Spanish court has ordered police to capture and search two vessels belonging
to a Florida firm that recently announced it had found a shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean laden with an estimated $500m worth of Colonial-era treasure.
The court in the southern port city of Cadiz instructed police to capture the vessels should they leave the British colony of Gibraltar, on Spain's southern tip, and enter Spanish waters. The reports came out late Tuesday night after the court had closed and it was not immediately possible to confirm them.
The two ship
s, "Odyssey Explorer" and "Ocean Alert," belong to Odyssey Marine Exploration and are believed to have been involved in the exploration that led to the discovery of the treasure disputed by Spain.
Spain last month filed claims in a U.S. federal court over
Odyssey's find, arguing that if the shipwrecked vessel was Spanish or was removed from its waters, any treasure would belong to the country.
In Britain, the find generated press reports that Odyssey had salvaged the wreck of the long-sought British vessel Merchant Royal, which sank in bad weather off England in 1641. Odyssey has not confirmed or denied these reports.
Odyssey insists the shipwreck was outside any country's territorial waters but would not give the exact location or name of the ship. It has said the treasure of gold and silver coins was flown back to the United States from Gibraltar.