Treasure hunters eye huge silver haul from WWII ship
When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever.
Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration on Monday confirmed the identity and location of the Gairsoppa and cited official documents indicating the ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver coins and bullion when it sank in 1941 in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 kilometers) off the Irish coast.
That’s worth about $200 million today, which would make it history’s largest recovery of precious metals lost at sea, Odyssey said.
“We’ve accomplished the first phase of this project — the location and identification of the target shipwreck — and now we’re hard at work planning for the recovery phase,” Odyssey senior project manager Andrew Craig said in a statement.
“Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be well suited for the recovery of this silver cargo.”
Recovery is expected to begin next spring.
After a tender process the British government awarded Odyssey an exclusive salvage contract for the cargo, and under the agreement Odyssey will retain 80 percent of the silver bullion salvaged from the wreck.