Approximately 48 tons of silver bars from the sunken British-flagged SS Gairsoppa was retrieved from three miles below the surface of the ocean by Odyssey Marine Exploration
The SS Gairsoppa was a 412 foot steel-hulled British cargo steamship that was enlisted in the service of the United Kingdom Ministry of War Transport and sunk by a German U-boat on February 17, 1941, approximately 300 miles southwest of Galway, Ireland.
The UK Ministry of War Transport paid an insurance loss of approximately £325,000 at the time for silver bars lost with the ship. In 2010, the United Kingdom (UK) Government Department for Transport awarded Odyssey, through a competitive bid, the exclusive salvage contract for this cargo from the SS Gairsoppa. Under the salvage contract, Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of silver bullion recovered under the contract. Additional, uninsured silver may be aboard as well. Sources, including Lloyd’s Record of War Losses indicate a cargo of silver worth £600,000 at the time, which would equate to approximately 7 million total ounces of silver.
The shipwreck was located using the MAK-1M (deep-tow low frequency sonar system), aboard the chartered Russian research vessel RV Yuzhmorgeologiya. Visual inspection of the site was conducted with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from the Odyssey Explorer. The video and still images acquired during the exploration of the shipwreck with the ROV were reviewed and analyzed at length to confirm the identity of the shipwreck as that of the SS Gairsoppa. The expedition and resulting data was also used to evaluate the condition of the shipwreck and to plan for recovery operations, which commenced May 31, 2012 aboard the charted Seabed Worker.
The Gairsoppa was discovered approximately 4700 meters below the surface of the north Atlantic, in international waters approximately 300 miles off the coast of Ireland.