On May 25, 1798, the HMS DeBraak was entering Delaware Bay when a squall struck without warning. The British ship that originally belonged to the Dutch capsized and sank, taking 34 sailors and a dozen Spanish prisoners down with it. Rumored to contain a hoard of gold and jewelry, the DeBraak became a popular target for treasure hunters in the years that followed. The wreck was finally discovered in 1986, lying under 80 feet of water at the mouth of the Delaware River. The team who found the ship attempted to raise it from its watery grave, resulting in one of the worst archaeological disasters in modern history. The event precipitated the passing of long-overdue laws designed to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
…“Salvage is an ancient, honorable business that works to retrieve or recover and return goods ranging from ships to cargoes to the stream of commerce,” Delgado told Gizmodo. “In my time, I have seen that range from oil trapped in sunken ships, canned fish, containers, and of course, vessels of various types that have sank and which can be raised. That includes fishing boats and tugs, barges, and the Costa Concordia. I know and have many friends in the marine salvage business.”