Treasure hunters find wartime wreck with $210 million in silver aboard

The wreck of a British cargo ship carrying 7 million ounces of silver that was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1941 has been identified. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., announced Monday that it had located and verified the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa approximately 300 miles west of the Irish coast. The ship lies approximately 3 miles beneath the surface of the North Atlantic.

The Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled cargo ship, was in transit from Calcutta to London on February 17, 1941 with 85 people on board when it strayed from a convoy. A German submarine attacked, sinking the ship. Lifeboats were launched, but only the second officer, who washed ashore, survived.

The ship’s manifest included 2,600 tons of pig iron, and 1,765 tons of tea — and a cargo of silver ingots — which was valued then at 600,000 pounds. At today’s prices the silver would be valued at about 150 million pounds, or more than $210 million.

Because the silver shipment was insured by the U.K. government, bids were solicited for locating and salvaging the wreck. If recovered, the silver would represent the largest known precious metal cargo ever salvaged from the sea.

Under its agreement with the U.K. government, Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of the silver bullion recovered.

My favorite kind of deep-sea fishing.

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