Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. (OMEX), a deep-sea salvage company, said it retrieved more than 61 tons of silver bullion this month from a World War II shipwreck nearly three miles (4.8 kilometers) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
Odyssey recovered 1,574 silver ingots weighing a total of about 1.8 million ounces from the SS Gairsoppa, the Tampa, Florida-based company said in a statement today. The 412-foot (126-meter) British cargo ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat in February 1941, Odyssey said on its website.
The metal was worth about $630,000 when the Gairsoppa was sunk and about $36 million at today’s prices. Odyssey has recovered a total of 2,792 ingots from the wreck, about 99 percent of the insured silver reported to be aboard when the vessel sank.
“We have accomplished a world-record recovery at a depth never achieved before,” Odyssey Chief Operating Officer Mark Gordon said in the statement.
Odyssey fell 3.2 percent to $3.35 at the close in New York. The shares have climbed 13 percent this year.
The Gairsoppa left Kolkata in December 1940 carrying pig iron, tea, silver and other cargo, destined for Liverpool, England, Odyssey said. It was torpedoed about 300 miles southwest of Galway, Ireland. Only one member of the 85-person crew survived after spending 13 days in a lifeboat.
The company found the wreck in 2011 and recovery efforts began in May 2012. The company announced in 2011 plans to salvage cargo from the SS Mantola, about 100 miles from the Gairsoppa site. The British vessel was sunk by a German submarine in 1917 with 600,000 ounces of silver aboard.
Odyssey has salvage contracts with the U.K. that allow it to retain 80 percent of the net silver value recovered. The silver from the Gairsoppa was taken to a secure facility in the U.K.
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