Explorers combing the depths of the English Channel have found the H.M.S. Victory, a ship that sank during a vicious 1744 storm, possibly carrying four tons of gold coins worth close to $1 billion, the New York Times reports.

The old British warship was also thought to have lost near 1,000 men when it capsized nearly three centuries ago.

The exploration team lifted two of 41 cannons found in the depths of the Channel and handed them over to the British Defense Ministry. The team’s leaders are now talking to authorities and negotiating what should be done with the found artifacts before they dive in and look for more.

“I’m surprised we’ve been able to keep it under wraps for nine months” said Gregory Stemm, leader of the team and chairman and CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., at a recent news conference.

The find reinstates the ship’s navigator, Admiral Sir John Balchin, as a competent crew member. Previously, the ship’s downfall was blamed on his “poor navigational skills,” something now known to be untrue. The storm, according to the team, could not have been avoided.

The ship was armed with as many as 110 cannons, which makes it one of the deadliest warships of the age, according to the Times.‚ 

The Victory encountered a horrible storm upon entering the English Channel in October of 1744, three months after freeing a convoy that was blockaded by the French near Lisbon.

Somewhere off the Channel Islands, the ship capsized, making it the only ship in that period’s British fleet to be lost at sea.

Very cool find.

About The Author

Sachin Seth is the Blast Magazine world news reporter. He writes the Terra blog. You can visit his website at http://sachinseth.com or follow him on twitter @sachinseth

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