Divers have literally discovered a treasure trove roughly 300 miles southwest of Ireland. Nearly three miles deep in the ocean, a British merchant ship called the S.S. Gairsoppa found its final resting place in 1941 when it was hit by a Nazi torpedo. What was the ship carrying on its voyage from England to India? A fortune of silver!
Working with the Government
The divers of Odyssey Marine Exploration who discovered the sunken ship were ecstatic to find about 240 tons of silver. Odyssey Marine Exploration was under a contract with the British government after finding out the ship’s true identity, which gave Odyssey 80% of the silver’s value, and the remaining 20% to the government. While the silver still belonged to the British, they were not in a position to spend the money or time retrieving it, but with help from Odyssey, both parties could benefit. Greg Stemm, the chief executive of Odyssey, pointed out that cargo recovery is a great way for governments to increase revenues. In situations like this, private companies risk their own money to recover the precious metals, and then split the profits. He said, “It doesn’t cost taxpayers a dollar and accrues right to the bottom line. Governments are waking up to the potential.”
So just how much of the treasure were the divers of Odyssey able to recover? Roughly 48 tons of silver, or about $38 million. The divers hauled 1,203 bars of silver, or 1.4 million ounces. This could be the largest and deepest precious metal recovery of all time. Odyssey Marine Exploration is hoping to eventually recover the remaining cargo. You can also see a video of the S.S. Gairsoppa here.
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