The operation to recover the silver bullion on board SS Gairsoppa when it sank is underway.  Odyssey Marine Exploration, the US-based deep-ocean exploration company responsible for recovering the bullion says that approximately 48 tonnes of silver bullion has been recovered so far.

More than 1,200 silver bars have been brought to the surface during the recovery which Odyssey describes as “the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck”and there is plenty more treasure yet to be recovered.  At the time of the Gairsoppa’s sinking in 1941, the ship was carrying £600,000 worth of silver ingots and the silver discovered so far represents 43% of the total thought to be on the ship.

After the silver was recovered, the silver bullion was transported to a safe location in the United Kingdom.  The recovery operation is being carried out in conjunction with a recovery operation from SS Mantola, a second ship located approximately 100 miles from Gairsoppa in the deep seas of the North Atlantic.  It is expected 600,000 ounces of silver will be recovered from Mantola.

Greg Stemm, Odyssey Chief Executive Officer, said:

“With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation.”

“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. This technology will be applicable to other modern shipwreck projects currently being scheduled as well as our deep ocean mineral exploration activities. Our success on the Gairsoppa marks the beginning of a new paradigm for Odyssey in which we expect modern shipwreck projects will complement our archaeological shipwreck excavations.”

Mark Gordon, Odyssey President and Chief Operating Officer, said:

“The progress on this project is a testament to our world-class team. Our research department developed extensive information about the vessel’s sinking and layout of the ship, and our marine operations team was able to locate both the Gairsoppa and the Mantola shipwreck sites relatively quickly last summer. We assembled the suite of equipment necessary for a successful recovery and conducted reconnaissance dives to plan efficient operations.”

“This demonstrates the viability of the business model we have developed to identify and recover the historic knowledge and economic value of otherwise lost government assets.”

The recovery operation began in late May and  is being carried out by using the 291-foot Seabed Worker.  TV shows detailing the recovery operation from Gairsoppa will be shown on the Discovery Channel and Channel 5 at a later date.

For more about SS Gairsoppa, you might like to read:

SS Gairsoppa discovered: http://jfnews.co.uk/?p=173

Recovery expedition underway: http://jfnews.co.uk/?p=1308