State Battles Over Sunken 19th-Century Shipwreck

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 17, 2010 at 6:28 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 17, 2010 at 6:28 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW-TV) --- U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio believes that New York State should have ownership of the schooner. The judge agreeing with the state that the shipwreck was abandoned. The ruling comes down to a 1987 shipwreck law that allows all states ownership of shipwrecks in their waters, as long as the shipwreck is abandoned. Northeast Research will object to that ruling. Pat Clyne of Northeast Research, LLC says he can prove that they know how this ship was used. His attorney has even reached out to descendants of the people who owned that vessel in the 19th century.
Clyne believes this is the sunken Caledonia warship used by the British in the war of 1812. "We claim it is not abandoned because the heirs are very much alive, and we've been in contact with them."
Northeast Research has discovered numerous artifacts on the shipwreck. The company also discovered human remains, which the state believes Northeast Research mishandled. The state also argues that the company damaged the cabin. "Why would we destroy or damage the very thing we are trying to preserve?" asks Clyne. Clyne believes someone else illegally dove to the shipwreck, and vandalized the cabin.
If the final ruling is in favor of the state, Clyne says, the shipwreck would remain where it was found --- 170 feet underwater. If the ruling is made in the company's favor, Northeast Research hopes the shipwreck to Buffalo to create a Waterfront museum.
Northeast Research is filing objections June 24th. There will be a hearing before a federal judge issues a final ruling on the who has the right to the shipwreck.