French crews take to Lake Michigan in search of shipwreck

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GREEN BAY (WITI) -- Archaeologists from France took to Lake Michigan in the hopes of recovering a 16th Century ship called "The Griffon." The ship belonged to a French explorer, and disappeared more than 300 years ago.

As France's top underwater archaeologist, it's up to Michele L'Hour to help determine if The Griffon has finally been found.

"We want to find some details of the architecture of the ship or some artifacts that can testify that this is a wreck, and that this wreck is The Griffon. It is why we are here," L'Hour said.

L'Hour and Olivia Hulot dove into Lake Michigan for the first time Saturday, June 15th. They looked near a timber jutting out of the lake bed that Steve Libert believes is part of The Griffon. He found it in 2001 after looking for the ship since 1981.

"It could be what we think it is, but we don't know for sure until its 100% positively identified, a scientific identification, which is 100%," Libert said.

It took more than a decade of legal and political battles to get the French archaeologists at the possible shipwreck site. Now that they are here, everyone involved is being cautious before making any sort of proclamation.

"If it is Le Griffon, it's one of the most significant maritime casualties in the Great Lakes," Project Manager Ken Vrana said.

This weekend, commercial divers dredged in the area, hoping to give archaeologists a better look. Soon, they expect to reach the ship's deck, which should reveal more to L'Hour.

Members of the exploration crew say one cultural artifact was found on Saturday, but they will not reveal specifically what underwater treasure they discovered.

The crew also found other items they plan to analyze in the coming days.