Treasure hunter Greg Brooks claimed he has located the wreck of a World War II British merchant ship that was carrying a load of platinum now worth $3 billion. The ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Cape Cod during World War II and should Brooks' location of the ship proves accurate, he will find one of the richest sunken treasures ever discovered.
Brooks, a treasure hunter of Sub Sea Research in Gorham, Maine, said that he and his crew positively identified the hull number of the S.S. Port Nicholas on Wednesday by using an underwater camera. The Port Nicholson went down in 1942 and Brooks said he has located it in 700 feet of water some 50 miles off shore.
Brooks said the Port Nicholson had 71 tons of platinum that was worth $53 million at time and was headed for New York when it was attacked. The platinum was reportedly a payment from the Soviet Union to the U.S. for war supplies, he told The AP. Gold bullion and diamonds was allegedly on vessel, Brooks claim.
Who in fact, owns the hoard could be disputed internationally, according to The Associated Press, and Brooks plans salvage efforts later this month or in early March.
I'm going to get it, one way or another, even if I have to lift the ship out of the water, Brooks said.
Timothy Shusta, a Tampa, Fla. attorney who represents the British government, is skeptical the ship was carrying a platinum load. He also told The AP that Britain will wait until salvage operations start before deciding whether to file a claim on the vessel's cargo.
We're still researching what was on the vessel, Shusta said. Our initial research indicated it was mostly machinery and military stores.
Robert F. Marx, an underwater archaeologist, maritime historian and owner of Seven Seas Search and Salvage LLC in Florida, also expressed skepticism to The AP. He said both an American company and an English company have gone after the ship's load years ago and gotten a portion. How much of the hoard and if there is any platinum left is not known.
Every wreck that is lost is the richest wreck lost. Every wreck ever found is the biggest ever found, Marx said. Every recovery is the biggest ever recovery.
Salvaging shipwrecks is somewhat still an important occupation. Here are a few other shipwreck treasures around the world.
- In 2007, U.S. treasure hunters reported recovering more than $500 million U.S. dollars worth of gold and silver coins off the coast of Cornwall, UK. At the time it was being called biggest treasure find ever. The operation was codenamed the Black Swan Project and the discovery was made by Odyssey Marine Exploration. The treasure is believed to be from a 17th century shipwreck located about 40 miles off the Cornish coast. Reports are there have been hundreds of thousands of the silver coins and at least 200 gold coins found in the wreckage. Some of those coins were said to be in near mint condition. Odyseey believes the load belongs to The Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes: Meaning Our Lady of Mercy in English, this Spanish frigate was sunk by the British off the south coast of Portugal on Oct. 5 1804 It went down during the Battle of Cape Santa Maria. It was said to be carrying huge quantities of gold, silver and jewels. Reports are that there are letters stating that the four Spanish ships carried 4,436,519 gold and silver pesos of which 1,307,634 belonged to the king of Spain.
- S.S. Laconia: This was a Cunard Liner built in 1911 by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson. Laconia was turned into an Armed Merchant Cruiser ans was also torpedoed by the German U-boat while returning from U.S. to England. Reports are that the New York Times on Feb. 27, 1917, noted that the Laconia carried 1,000 bars of silver insured for £128,000 and 132 boxes of silver coins.-
- Notre Dame de Deliverance: The French ship is said to have disappeared after being caught by a hurricane as it passed near the Florida Keys on Nov. 1 1755. It had set sail for Havana a day earlier reportedly with treasures extracted from mines in Mexico, Peru and Colombia. Some of its cargo is said to have been 1,170 pounds of gold bullion carried in seventeen chests, 15,399 gold doubloons, 153 gold snuff boxes weighing 6 ounces each, a gold-hilted sword, 764 ounces of virgin silver, 31 pounds of silver ore and other items made of silver, six pairs of diamond earrings and chests of precious stones.
- El Salvador: The Spanish merchant ship was said to be one of a fleet of vessels that was travelling from Colombia to Spain. In August 1750, the ship encountered a storm that pushed it ashore between North Carolina and Maryland. According to treasurelore.com, the El Salvador was carrying 16 chests of silver and four chests of gold when she went down in the area of Cape Lookout during. A conservative estimate notes the value at approximately $124 million today.