Wreck hunters are back in town ready to salvage silver bullion from the depths of the Atlantic. Odyssey Marine’s research vessel Odyssey Explorer docked here yesterday after operating near the Isles of Scilly as the company continues searching and examining wrecks.
Odyssey has confirmed that next week the specialist salvage ship Seabed Worker will resume the salvage of silver bullion from the steamship Gairsoppa. Torpedoed in 1941, the ship lies three miles down on the seabed of the Atlantic some 300 miles south west of Ireland.
Odyssey Marine’s CEO Gregg Stemm said in 2012: “Our team has proven their ability to efficiently execute complex operations at a depth of 4,700 metres (15,600 feet) to complete both the deepest cargo salvage and largest recovery of precious metals ever accomplished. We’ve proven that we can make precise cuts, gain access to interior areas of a steel shipwreck, and recover cargo from a shipwreck deeper than the Titanic.”
To date, 1,218 Gairsoppa silver bars have been recovered and sold. An additional £300,000 was realised from the sale of gold that was extracted from the silver smelting process. The total proceeds from the deep-ocean project are more than £27 million.
Silver bullion weighing 17,000 ounces was landed at Falmouth Docks last year by Seabed Worker along with other artefacts removed from the steamship Gairsoppa.
Odyssey said: “The Seabed Worker is expected to depart port and resume silver recovery operations at the Gairsoppa site. Research indicates an additional 1,599 insured silver ingots remain on the site, which could equate to about 1.8 million ounces of silver, along with the potential for additional uninsured silver.
“Upon completion of the recovery operations, we will begin recovery operations on the SS Mantola which was carrying 600,000 ounces of silver. We recently obtained research indicating the likely location of the room where bullion would have been stored on that ship.”
The SS Mantola, a 450-foot British cargo vessel, set sail from London in February 1917, carrying passengers and cargo – including a shipment of silver – to Calcutta, India. On February 8, 1917, she was struck by a torpedo from the German U-boat commanded by Kapitanleutnant Raimund Weisbach. The 165 crew members and 18 passengers abandoned the ship.
All but seven crew members, who drowned when a lifeboat overturned, were rescued by the HMS Laburnum.
Weisbach was the watch officer on U20, under Kapitanleutenant Schwieger’s command, who fired the torpedo that sank the liner Lusitania in 1915.