61 Tons Of Silver: $37 Million Recovered From SS Gairsoppa After Seven Decades 15,420 Feet Under The Sea [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on July 23, 2013 4:16 PM EDT

Odyssey Marine Exploration
SS Gairsoppa was sunk in 1941 by a German U-boat. Odyssey Marine Exploration aims to recover 61 tons of silver from the lost cargo ship. (Photo: Creative Commons)

SS Gairsoppa was a British cargo ship that was transporting 48 tons of silver when it was sunk during World War II. In February 17, 1941, a German U-boat lurking 300 miles off the Irish coast struck the ship with its torpedo.

For more than seven decades, the SS Gairsoppa sat 15,420 feet under the sea. Now, salvage firm Odyssey Marine Exploration has claimed the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals ever made from a sunken shipwreck.

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The team of Odyssey Marine Exploration workers have managed to bring more than 1,200 bars of silver to the surface. The bars add up to 1.8 million troy ounces, or 61 tons. In total, the silver is valued at £23.7 million ($37 million).

A highly sophisticated band of modern day treasure hunters, the Odyssey Marine Exploration company became well known after a 2008 U.S. judge ruling ordered Odyssey to return £300 million in gold and silver coins to Spain. The European peninsula state claimed that the treasure was taken from one of their frigates that sunk in 1804. Odyssey defended that the identity of the wreckage is unclear. What's more, the wreck was discovered in international waters.

SS Gairsoppa was a 412-foot steamship and was a part of the British-India Steam Navigation Company. The ship is easily identified by its red-and-black paint scheme. The cargo ship left with a convoy from Calcutta, India. However, high winds and rough sea conditions caused the captain of SS Gairsoppa to realize that the steam ship will not have enough coal to reach Liverpool. The ship veered from the convoy in order to reach the closer Galway.

A cunning opportunitist, a German U-boat U-101 fired its torpedo and sank SS Gairsoppa in just 20 minutes. Three life boats were launched as the crew scrambled to save themselves. Unfortunately, only Second Officer Richard Nayres reached a beach and survived the sinking of SS Gairsoppa.

Odyssey Marine Exploration is under contract with the British Government to recover the lost silver bars from the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck. An incredible agreement, 80 percent of the silver after expenses will go to Odyssey. The remaining 20 percent belongs to the British Treasury.

According to Daily Mail, the UK government has been desperately seeking new sources of income, prompting Odyssey to reach out the government, urging for contracts to recover treasure from wrecked British vessels.

Odyssey Marine Exploration will also be looking into the HMS Sussex, which is lost off Gibraltar and carries 10 tons of gold in 1694, as well as the HMS Victory.

Read more:

Shipwreck Gold: Does Sunken South Carolina Steamer Contain Treasure?

Gold Coins Florida: $250K Treasure Found Just 100 Feet From Shoreline

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