Last September we posted that Odyssey Marine Exploration had located the wreck of the S.S. Gairsoppa, which was torpedoed in February of 1941 by a German U-boat. When she sank, the ship was loaded with 240 tonnes of silver believed to be worth approximately $200 million (around £155 million.) Yesterday the company announced that, so far, they have recovered approximately 48 tonnes of silver worth roughly $38 million. The wreck lies almost three miles below the surface and is one of the most valuable and deepest ship wrecks ever salvaged. Salvage operations are expected to continue through September. Under a salvage contract with the British government, Odyssey will keep 80% of the proceeds after expenses.
Odyssey Announces First Load of Silver Cargo from Three Miles Deep
The Gairsoppa was a merchant ship torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War II. During the War, the UK Government insured privately owned cargo under their War Risk Insurance program. After making an insurance payment of approximately £325,000 (1941 value) to the owners of the silver cargo lost aboard the Gairsoppa, the UK Government became the owners of the insured cargo. As some sources, including ”Lloyd’s War Losses” indicate a total silver cargo worth £600,000 (1941 value) lost aboard the Gairsoppa, there may have been additional government-owned silver cargo aboard that would have been self-insured.
“With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation,” commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey Chief Executive Officer. “Our capacity to conduct precision cuts and successfully complete the surgical removal of bullion from secure areas on the ship demonstrates our capabilities to undertake complicated tasks in the very deep ocean. This technology will be applicable to other modern shipwreck projects currently being scheduled as well as our deep ocean mineral exploration activities. Our success on the Gairsoppa marks the beginning of a new paradigm for Odyssey in which we expect modern shipwreck projects will complement our archaeological shipwreck excavations.”