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The wreck of the SS Gairsoppa freighter with a cargo of 200 tons of silver has been found!

Listen to this article Members of Odyssey Marine Exploration have announced that they have successfully recovered and preliminarily examined the wreck of the British freighter SS Gairsoppa. The ship, with a cargo of 200 tonnes of silver, was sunk by a German submarine in 1941. The 125 metre long freighter SS Gairsoppa was almost at
Published: September 27, 2011 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 00:04
The wreck of the SS Gairsoppa freighter with a cargo of 200 tons of silver has been found!
Listen to this article

Members of Odyssey Marine Exploration have announced that they have successfully recovered and preliminarily examined the wreck of the British freighter SS Gairsoppa. The ship, with a cargo of 200 tonnes of silver, was sunk by a German submarine in 1941.

The 125 metre long freighter SS Gairsoppa was almost at the end of her journey from Calcutta to Liverpool. Together with the ship, the long-awaited and extremely valuable cargo was to arrive in the port. The hold contained as much as 7 million ounces of silver in the form of 2,817 bars with a total value of £150 million.

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The bow of the wrecked freighter
Anchors of the SS Gairsoppa wreck Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration

Due to difficult weather conditions and a shortage of coal, the captain decided to abandon the convoy and head for the Irish port of Gallway. Unfortunately, this very step, made almost at the end of the journey, turned out to be false. After separating from the other ships in the convoy, SS Gairsoppa was targeted by the German submarine U-101.

On the final straight

During the night from 16 to 17 February the Uboat commanded by Captain Ernst Mengersen launched a torpedo attack. Less than quarter of an hour before midnight the freighter was hit by German torpedoes. The log book of U-101 stated that the ship sank 20 minutes after being hit, on February 17, at 00.08 a.m. Eighty-five sailors died on board the British vessel.

name on side of wreck
Searchers have found the name of the vessel photo by Odyssey Marine Exploration
Discovery

Thewreck of the SS Gairsoppa was located approximately 300 miles south-west of the Irish coast. Although the freighter rests at a dizzying depth of 4,700m, Odyssey Marine Exploration has announced that they will attempt to recover the cargo in spring 2012. According to estimates made by Odyssey experts, the entire operation will take approximately 60-90 days. Thanks to the agreement that the company has concluded with the British Ministry of Transport, Osyssey will retain 80% of the value of the extracted cargo. This fact caused the shares of the American company to rise by 11% after the announcement of the discovery of the wreck!

We have successfully completed the first phase of the project. We have found and identified the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa. Now we have the difficult work of trying to recover the cargo. But based on the location of the wreck and its state of preservation we are confident that the recovery operation will be successful said Adnrew Craig of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Valuable cargo discovered by Odyssey
Silver bars resting in the cargo holds of a recovered freighter photo by Odyssey Marine Exploration
Exploration

Thanks to video footage and photographs taken with the ROV, it was possible to identify the wreck and locate the tea chests, which were the lightest part of the cargo. Treasure hunters assume that underneath them are heavier and much more valuable silver chests.

We have undoubtedly been very lucky that the wreck has settled on its keel and its holds are open and easily accessible. This should enable us to extract the cargo in much the same way as if it had come into port said Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive.

robot mines a load of silver
Robot picks up silver from wreck photo by Odyssey Marine Exploration

Odyssey Marine Exploration is a world leader in the exploration and recovery of valuable cargoes from deep-sea wrecks. Among other projects, in May 2007 they found a treasure considered to be the most valuable in history. We are talking about a sailing ship christened the Black Swan. Another unquestionable success was the discovery of the ship HMS Victory sunk in 1744, from which 100,000 ounces of gold were taken. Other wrecks found include the Shantarman, Enigma and Firebrand. Each with a cargo value of approximately US$50 million.

Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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