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Michigan says it's trying to settle shipwreck case

Michigan says it's trying to settle shipwreck case

The state of Michigan says it's working with France to take new steps to finally determine if a northern Lake Michigan shipwreck is the Griffin, which sank while loaded with furs 330 years ago.
A federal judge in Grand Rapids postponed a hearing last week and told all sides to return Oct. 15.
In a recent court filing, lawyers for Michigan, France and private divers said they have been negotiating a "phase II investigation" to settle the wreck's identity to help resolve ownership.
Michigan has been skeptical that ruins on the lake bottom are the Griffin (also known by the French equivalent Griffon) and has sought to have any wreckage declared state property.
But that position has softened a bit since France entered the dispute in January and claimed ownership because the explorer who built the ship, La Salle, was sailing for King Louis XIV in 1679.
The precise site has not been publicly disclosed but is believed to be between Escanaba and the St. Martin Islands, near Wisconsin. There has been no effort to raise the wreck.
Michigan first disclosed its talks with France earlier this year when it asked U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell to postpone a hearing on who has authority over the site.
"Real progress has been made in that direction and if these negotiations are successful, some or all of the issues raised by (the state) and by this litigation could be resolved," Assistant Attorney General Louis Reinwasser and Rick Robol, the attorney representing France and Great Lakes Exploration Group, said in a June 17 court filing.
A phone message was left with Steve Libert, president of Great Lakes Exploration, who has said he discovered the Griffin during a dive in 2001. His group, which would work with France in raising the wreckage, has been in court for five years trying to get control of the ruins.
It's unclear what would happen during a "phase II investigation." Robol of Columbus, Ohio, was on U.S. Army Reserve duty Tuesday and couldn't be reached for comment.
"All parties are interested in protecting what may be down there. ... I'm treating those discussions as confidential," said Matt Frendewey, spokesman for the Michigan attorney general's office.
La Salle's other ship, La Belle, was discovered in the mid-1990s off the Texas coast. With approval from France, state archaeologists there recovered nearly 1 million artifacts, from human bones to muskets, and publicly displayed many of them.
On his Web site, Libert says the Griffin is a "time capsule that will fill the missing gaps of La Salle's early exploration of North America."
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On the Net:
http://www.greatlakesexploration.org


Updated : 2021-08-02 04:40 GMT+08:00