TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A plane departed a Tampa, Fla., air force base Thursday en route to Madrid to return $500 million in booty once carried by a ship that sank in 1804.
Odyssey Marine Exploration, based in Tampa., recovered 17 tons of silver coins and other artifacts in 2007 but Spain launched a legal battle to take custody of the booty, which it won in 2009, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Spanish ambassador to the United States, Jorge Dezcallar de Mazar said the treasure would be displayed in museums, not sold.
"We bear witness to that fateful day 200 years ago," he said. "This is about our historical heritage. ... History makes us who we are, and today we are witnessing the end of a journey that started 200 years ago. ... It is our duty to end that mission successfully."
Odyssey Marine spent $2.6 million recovering the treasure, using remote-controlled robots. The court ruled the company would not receive compensation from Spain for the recovery.
"People won't stop looking for Spanish shipwrecks," said Odyssey co-founder Greg Stemm. "They will just stop reporting their finds ... No archeology will be done."
The treasure should reach its destination Saturday, the Times said.