JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A U.S. federal court has ruled that a shipwreck off Florida's Atlantic coast belongs to France and not the salvage company that found it in 2016.
A report by The Florida Times-Union says a U.S. magistrate ruled last week that the wreck was la Trinite, the flagship of French captain Jean Ribault.
In 1565, Ribault aimed to reinforce a struggling French colony in what is now Jacksonville. A hurricane wrecked his fleet, giving rival Spanish troops the opportunity to seize Fort Caroline and affirm Spain's claim to Florida.
Salvage company Global Marine Exploration had argued it had the rights to claim the shipwreck because its identity couldn't be established.
James Goold, the attorney representing the French government, said the ruling will protect artifacts from the wreck from being privately salvaged.