The explorers say the HMS Victory, the British Navy's one-time flagship, was carrying what today is worth $1 billion in gold -- nearly four tons -- when it went down in the English Channel in 1744, the British tabloid The Sun reported Monday.
More than 1,000 sailors perished in the mishap that befell the predecessor ship to Lord Nelson's Victory, of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.
Odyssey Marine Exploration of Florida says it will hand over any gold found aboard to the British government, its rightful owner. But the discovery of the HMS Victory in 330 feet of water -- 62 miles from where most historians had believed it sank -- is worth it for its historic significance, Odyssey Chief Executive Officer Greg Stemm told The Sun.
"The money is not as important as the cultural and historical significance of the discovery," he said. "It is a monumental event, not only for Odyssey but for the world. It is probably the most significant shipwreck find to date."