August 8, 2013 – Odyssey Marine Exploration, pioneers in the field of deep-ocean exploration, discovered the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank in February 1941, in 2011. During the summer of 2012, Odyssey recovered 1,218 silver ingots from the Gairsoppa weighing nearly 48 tons. In late May, Odyssey commenced the 2013 North Atlantic recovery operations utilizing the chartered 291-foot Seabed Worker which resulted in this latest recovery of 1,574 silver ingots weighing over 61 tons.
The over 60 tons of silver, recovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration in July 2013, from the 4,700 meter deep SS Gairsoppa shipwreck, is documented, collected and stored aboard the Seabed Worker as Odyssey continues its 24 hour recovery 300 miles off the coast of Galway, Ireland. Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., www.odysseymarine.com
In July 2013 Odyssey has recovered over 61 tons of silver bullion from a depth of nearly three miles. This recovery of bullion from the SS Gairsoppa consists of 1,574 silver ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each or almost 1.8 million troy ounces in total, sets a new record for the deepest and largest precious metal recovery from a shipwreck. The silver has been transported to a secure facility in the United Kingdom.
One example of a .999 fine silver ingot recovered from lot four of the insured cargo documented for the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site. Three of the four lots contained .917 fine silver ingots. During Odyssey’s recovery expeditions conducted in 2012-2013, the team was able to recover more than 99% of the insured silver cargo of the SS Gairsoppa. Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., www.odysseymarine.com
Including the silver recovered in 2012, Odyssey has now recovered 2,792 silver ingots from SS Gairsoppa or more than 99% of the insured silver reported to be aboard the Gairsoppa when she sank. Under the terms of Odyssey’s contract with the UK Department for Transport, which follows standard commercial practices, Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of the cargo. The contract was awarded to Odyssey following a competitive tender process.
Sources, including Lloyd’s record of War Losses, indicate additional uninsured government-owned silver may have been aboard the SS Gairsoppa when she sank, but to date no uninsured silver has been located.
Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig directs operations on the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site from the ROV control room aboard the Seabed Worker. Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., www.odysseymarine.com
‘This was an extremely complex recovery which was complicated by the sheer size and structure of the SS Gairsoppa as well as its depth nearly three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic,’ commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive officer. ‘To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access.
‘The recovery of more than 99% of the insured silver cargo under these adverse conditions is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the offshore team led by Senior Project Managers, Andrew Craig and Ernie Tapanes. The expertise demonstrated in implementing this challenging project continues to be applied as we undertake other modern shipwreck projects, deep-ocean mineral exploration and our best-in-class deep-ocean archaeological work on historic shipwrecks.’
The Odyssey crew inspects the silver bars as they are recovered from the SS Gairsoppa site and unloaded on deck of the Seabed Worker. Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., www.odysseymarine.com
Mark Gordon, Odyssey’s president and chief operating officer added, ‘The ability of our team to deliver on our planned objectives underscores our experience and the tremendous determination of our team. We have accomplished a world-record recovery at a depth never achieved before. We’re continuing to apply our unique expertise to pioneer deep-ocean projects that result in the discovery and recovery of lost cultural heritage, valuable cargoes and important and needed natural resources.’
Using advanced robotics, Odyssey recovers silver from the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck, which lies approximately 4700 meters deep in the North Atlantic. Photo: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., www.odysseymarine.com
The recovery operations were conducted from the 291-foot Seabed Worker mobilized with 5,000 meter depth-rated remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and heavy launch and recovery systems. Additional specialized deep-ocean equipment was mobilized by Odyssey on the ship for the project. The Seabed Worker has returned to sea to continue Odyssey’s 2013 North Atlantic Expedition, which includes the SS Mantola, a 450 foot British-flagged steamer lost in 1917 and found in 2011 by Odyssey, as well as the Gairsoppa. The Mantola reportedly carried approximately 600,000 troy ounces of silver insured under the UK War Risk insurance program.
Additional information about the Gairsoppa project can be found on the company’s website.
We reported recently on the SHIPWRECK! exhibition in New York where the first silver ingot recovered from the Gairsoppa is on display.