British naval hero's sword found on wreck

Jan. 29, 2012 at 3:48 PM   |   Comments

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A British diver says he found artifacts belonging to naval hero Lord Nelson on a Victorian-era British warship that sank off the coast of Lebanon.

British diver Mark Ellyatt was part of a team that discovered the shipwreck of the HMS Victoria warship, which sank in 1893 off the coast of Lebanon, in 2004, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

Now, Ellyatt said he has located the ship's admiral's cabin, which contained a number of items he believes belonged to Nelson, Britain's most celebrated naval hero.

Nelson died 88 years before the HMS Victoria sank. Among the items believed to be Lord Nelson's is his sword, the newspaper said.

Vice Admiral George Tryon was apparently a fan of Nelson's and collected his personal belongings, said a historian from Malta. His ship sank, along with 358 sailors, when it collided with another British warship as they were preparing to anchor during peacetime maneuvers off the coast of Lebanon.

"The cabin is a bit like a shrine, with all kinds of nice things hanging off the walls," Ellyatt said this week. "There seem to be a lot of things which are older than the ship itself."

The British Ministry of Defense has taken an interest in the wreck, but has asked that Ellyatt leave all potential Nelson effects alone.

"The MoD wanted to know the whereabouts of anything to do with Nelson. They didn't want it appearing on auction Web sites," Ellyatt said. "They were very interested in the sword but seemed to get cold feet when I offered to bring it up for them. I don't want people to go and strip the ship bare."

The diver said he "would like to bring the sword to the surface but I worry that it would be seized by the local authorities. If the items are to be recovered, I would like to see them end up in a museum in the [United Kingdom]."

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