Odyssey Marine Exploration, a company specializing in shipwreck exploration, has salvaged approximately $38 million worth of silver from a British cargo ship that sank below the North Atlantic Ocean in February 1941.
The load of silver, which came in at 1,203 bars, totaling 1.4 million ounces, was retrieved from the S.S. Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled cargo ship that currently sits 15,420 feet below sea level. Odyssey’s find is reportedly the deepest, largest precious metal recovery ever.
"With the shipwreck lying approximately 3 miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation,” Odyssey Chief Executive Officer Greg Stemm said in a statement. “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.”
According to Discovery News, the Gairsoppa was a merchant ship that was torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War II. Since the UK government had insured the privately owned cargo under the War Risk Insurance program, it had paid out the owners for the lost silver and then became owners of the lost cargo.
The Odyssey expedition has so far managed to recover an estimated 43 percent of the total lost silver treasure. The company hopes to recover the balance of the silver within 90 days, Discovery News reports.
Odyssey’s search for the S.S. Gairsoppa began in the summer of 2011, just three months before the exploration company was able to confirm the sunken cargo ships location.
The marine exploration company is also in the process of exploring another British sunken ship, the S.S. Mantola, which is believed to hold an estimated 600,000 ounces of additional UK-insured silver.