€27m of silver bars salvaged from ship sunk by U-boat

Treasure hunters have salvaged another €27m of silver bars from a ship sunk by the Nazis in the North Atlantic.

Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered 61 tons of bullion this month, 1,574 precious bars, from the SS Gairsoppa, a 126m British cargo ship that sank in Feb 1941 about 300 miles (480km) off Ireland in international waters.

Odyssey Marine, pioneers in the field of deep-water treasure hunting, exploration and salvage, have taken about 99% of the insured silver from the ship.

Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive, said the recovery has been an extremely complex operation.

“To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access,” he said.

Odyssey has taken 2,792 silver bars from the ship, including the latest haul of ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each or almost 1.8m troy ounces. Last year’s payload of 1,218 bars was valued at €29m as silver prices were higher then.

In the latest haul, 462 bars were of very high purity silver, .999 silver, and stamped with the brand HM Mint Bombay.

The precious metal — a world record recovery because of the depth and size — was taken ashore in Bristol and sent to a secure location in Britain.

Odyssey was given a salvage contract by the UK department for transport and the company will retain 80% of the net value of the cargo.

Sources, including Lloyd’s record of War Losses, indicate additional uninsured government-owned silver may have been on the SS Gairsoppa when it was holed by a German U-boat on its way to Galway bay, but none has been found.

Mark Gordon, Odyssey’s president, said: “We have accomplished a world-record recovery at a depth never achieved before. We’re continuing to apply our unique expertise to pioneer deep-ocean projects.”

The recovery operations were conducted from the 89m Seabed Worker with 5,000m depth-rated remotely operated vehicles.

Odyssey will begin work on the SS Mantola, a 137m British-flagged steamer lost in 1917 and found in 2011, which reportedly carried about 600,000 troy ounces of silver insured under the UK War Risk insurance programme.


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