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Cablegate: When Will Odyssey Ships Sail Out?

VZCZCXRO0656
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #1285 1830710
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 020710Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2901
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 001285

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/26/2017
TAGS: ECON SP PREL EWWT SCUL PHSA PBTS
SUBJECT: WHEN WILL ODYSSEY SHIPS SAIL OUT?

REF: MADRID 1191 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Deputy Cheif of Mission Hugo Llorens for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d)

1. (C) Odyssey Marine Exploration representatives Marie
Rogers and Ali Nasser requested a meeting with EconOff June
26 to informally update the Embassy on the American company's
plans to sail out from Gibraltar. Despite assurances that the
Spanish would indeed attempt to execute the warrant against
Odyssey, possibly leading to the detention of its vessel/s in
disputed international waters, Nasser said the company had
decided nonetheless to leave port as soon as possible.

2. (C) The Odyssey representatives outlined a 3-step timeline
for one or both vessels' departure from port which could
occur as early as next week. The first step would be the
drafting of an "Affidavit of Events" leading up to Odyssey's
"Black Swan" find (reftel). US Odyssey lawyers are currently
drafting that affidavit which will include a declaration that
in Fall 2006, Odyssey head Greg Stemm met with the Ministry
of Culture on what eventually turned out to be the "Black
Swan" find. Once this affidavit is complete, the second step
is for Odyssey representatives to once more approach the
Ministry of Culture, affidavit in hand, to attempt to reach a
compromise. From the date of this meeting, Odyssey employees
will begin the third step of divesting its vessels of the
expensive exploration equipment currently onboard. Once this
divestment is complete, the Odyssey vessels will set sail
with an American master, with representatives Ali Nasser and
Marie Rogers, and with a filming crew on board.

3.(C) Nasser said that in the interests of transparency,
Odyssey will notify the Spanish Guardia Civil the night
before of their intentions to set sail. If the Spanish do
not detain the ships, then they will sail on to Great
Britain. Nasser also indicated that should the Ministry of
Culture be receptive to compromise, Odyssey representatives
would offer to sail their vessels into Spanish waters to
allow a search while avoiding an international dispute over
the waters around Gibraltar. Nasser said that Odyssey was
also prepared to invite GoS along on its next salvaging trip
to the Black Swan site. However, Nasser caveated, these
offers would only be given if the Spanish guarantee that they
will not detain Odyssey ships. Econoff expressed
appreciation for Odyssey efforts towards compromise, and
encouraged continued flexibility in reaching a solution that
would avert contestation in international waters where all
parties, including Odyssey, would lose.

4. (C) Comment: Odyssey's current strategy is to provide a
"face saving" way out for Spain that would also allow the
Odyssey to regain the use of their ships. The Ministry of
Culture and its corresponding Andalucian stakeholders will be
the key to how this issue proceeds. Though the offer to allow
a Spanish representative to be on board when the Odyssey
returns to the Black Swan site may be tempting to MoC, it is
difficult to predict how emotions or local political
gamesmanship will affect the outcome. Ultimately, the larger
issue for both parties is ownership of the coins, a theme
where neither Odyssey nor the different Spanish factions have
expressed a willingness to budge. Odyssey's thoughts on how
to approach this dispute are ever changing, and hence there
is always a possibility that their course of action may
change. Nonetheless, Odyssey representatives advised Post
that they would continue to keep us in the loop of
developments.




AGUIRRE

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