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'ODYSSEY MARINE', Shipwreck Finders - UPDATES

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Author Topic: 'ODYSSEY MARINE', Shipwreck Finders - UPDATES  (Read 1171 times)
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2009, 10:03:42 am »

But cultural salvage doesn’t come cheap. “When we are in excavation mode it costs us close to $1 million a month,” Stemm reveals. ROVs cost $50,000 for the smallest, the size of a refrigerator, up to nearly $4 million for a Zeus, which weighs in at eight tonnes on dry land but pirouettes over the seabed like a ballerina. Stemm was the first to adapt robots used for laying undersea pipes and cables and oilrig work to archaeology. “We spent close to $22 million on operations last year,” he says, “but the potential returns justify that.”

Stemm is a native Floridian, fishing and boats are in his blood; he can remember fishing with his grandfathers. “I was always happiest offshore,” he says. “I really wanted to study marine archaeology but they didn’t have any programmes so I did marine biology instead.”

He dropped out of college at the age of 20, and “took care of a sailboat for a gentleman in the entertainment business”. This was how he ended up working with Bob Hope, for whom he worked as a personal assistant-cum-location scout. “He was a bright guy and very kind to me. That’s what sidetracked me into advertising and marketing.”

By the mid-Eighties Stemm was still in advertising when, with a group of likeminded businessmen — including the Apple founder Steve Jobs and Michael Dell of Dell Computers — he set up the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, a network for fledgeling tycoons. Today YEO has 6,000 members in 70 countries. Stemm, though, still felt the call of the sea and when, in 1986, he met a shipbroker in a bar in Grand Cayman, an opportunity arose that seemed too good to miss.

A month later, he was the owner of an 85-ft research vessel with a double-lot decompression chamber. He and his business partner, John C. Morris, originally intended to use their purchase as a dive charter boat, but then they saw a demonstration of ROVs by the US Navy and were hooked. They bought one for $50,000.

“We soon had insurance companies and government agencies asking us to look for sunken boats and other stuff, but what really set me thinking was attending an archaeology conference. I suddenly saw that the world was polarised between archaeologists, who didn’t have any money for excavation, and treasure hunters.” 
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