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A ladder leading to the forecastle deck of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck Odyssey Marine Exploration
sunken treasure

48 tons of silver worth $38m recovered off Irish coast

SS Gairsoppa was sailing back from India when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War II.

A US BASED exploration company says it has recovered 48 tonnes of silver from a British cargo ship 300 miles south west of Galway.

The Florida company Odyssey Marine Exploration said it salvaged the silver from the SS Gairsoppa,  a British cargo ship torpedoed by a German U-boat in February 1941, when the war in the Atlantic was at its most fiercest. The ship lies 4,700 metres below the surface. According to the company, the find represents the deepest, largest precious metal recovery ever.

“With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation,” said Odyssey Chief Executive Greg Stemm. “Our capacity to conduct precision cuts and successfully complete the surgical removal of bullion from secure areas on the ship demonstrates our capabilities to undertake complicated tasks in the very deep ocean.”

The company believes they have only recovered 20 per cent of the silver on the ship.

After recovering its expenses, Odyssey “retains 80 per cent of the net salved value of the Gairsoppa silver cargo” a statement form the company said. The silver is being transported to a secure facility in London.

The master, 82 crew members and two gunners died in the sinking. Three lifeboats got away, according to reports from the time, but only one made it to land, where it capsized in swell off the coast of Cornwall. All occupants drowned except Second Officer Richard Ayres, the only survivor.

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