WWII Shipwreck Gives Up 61 Tons of Silver 3 Miles Under Atlantic

SS Gairsoppa odyssey marine exploration
The over 60 tons of silver, recovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration in July 2013, from the 4,700 meter deep SS Gairsoppa shipwreck, is documented, collected and stored aboard the Seabed Worker as Odyssey continues its 24 hour recovery 300 miles off the coast of Galway, Ireland. image: Odyssey Marine Exploration

July 22 (Bloomberg) — Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., a deep-sea salvage company, said it retrieved more than 61 tons of silver bullion this month from a World War II shipwreck nearly three miles (4.8 kilometers) under the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Odyssey recovered 1,574 silver ingots weighing about 1.8 million ounces from the SS Gairsoppa, the Tampa, Florida-based company said in a statement today. The Gairsoppa is a 412-foot (126-meter) British cargo ship that sank after being torpedoed by a German U-boat in February 1941, Odyssey said on its website.

The metal, valued at about $36 million at today’s prices, was taken to a secure facility in the U.K., the company said. Odyssey has now recovered a total of 2,792 ingots from the ship, or about 99 percent of the insured silver reported to be aboard when it sank.

silver ingot ss gairsoppa odyssey marine exploration
Silver ingot, Image: Odyssey Marine Exploration

Odyssey said the operation is the largest and deepest precious metal recovery from a shipwreck. The recovery began in May 2012 using a chartered 291-foot ship after a series of reconnaissance dives earlier in the year, the company said.

In 2011, Odyssey announced plans to recover another 600,000 ounces of silver from the SS Mantola, a British vessel sunk by a German submarine in 1917, which lies about 100 miles from the the Gairsoppa.
Odyssey has salvage contracts with the U.K. allowing it to retain 80 percent of the net silver value recovered.

– Sonja Elmquist, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.