Shipwreck Hoarding $200M in Silver Found in Atlantic

Haul by US salvage crew promises to be biggest ever
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2011 2:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some $200 million in silver has been sitting at the bottom of the sea for decades, and a US salvage operation has just discovered the sunken ship carrying it. The find promises to be the biggest haul ever of precious metal from a shipwreck. The British SS Gairsoppa was sunk during World War II by a German U-Boat en route from India to Galway carrying some 220 tons of silver bullion, as well as iron and tea. Eerie photos of the wreck, snapped by a robot 3 miles beneath the surface of the Atlantic 300 miles off the coast of Ireland, show the vessel frozen in time.

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The Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration is operating on a contract to salvage the cargo, and will retain 80% of the profits of any silver collected, reports the Telegraph. "We were fortunate to find the shipwreck sitting upright, with the holds open and easily accessible," said Greg Stemm, head of the Odyssey. "This should enable to us to unload cargo through the hatches, as would happen with a ship alongside a cargo terminal." The salvage work will likely begin with better weather in the spring. A single torpedo sank the vessel in 1940, leaving 32 survivors out of a total of 85 crewmen. Only one, however, survived 13 days to make it to shore alive. He died in 1992. (Read more shipwreck stories.)

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