1,574 silver bars pulled from World War II shipwreck
Sunk by German U-boat, SS Gairsoppa proves boon to explorers
Sunk by a German U-boat, the SS Gairsoppa remained in her watery graves for more than 70 years. Eighty-four people perished in her sinking, and a fortune in silver bars were forever lost to the Atlantic Ocean. That's since changed by the heroic efforts of Odyssey marine Exploration, who has since pulled 1,574 silver bars now pulled from the watery depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
Crew members inspect navigation lights that were recovered from the SS Gairsoppa in addition to silver cargo.
The Odyssey Marine Exploration team, in spite of nasty 30-foot ocean swells coupled with the extreme depth and other difficulties used robotic equipment to make almost-surgical cuts into the SS Gairsoppa wreck. The team then delicately removed the valuable cargo.
"I just got a chill up my spine thinking about it," said Mark Gordon, the company's president and CEO says. "It's unbelievable. We're the first people in 70 years to solve this mystery."
The rescued stash has set records for both the heaviest recovery in tons of precious metal, with more than 60 tons alongside the depth of the effort.
The Odyssey pulled 48 tons of the 80-pound silver bars from the same wreck last year. "We just bumped the bar up," a delighted Gordon said.
A recovery rate of 85 percent of the cargo from a sunken ship is considered successful. The recent effort recovered all but 25 of the original 2,817 silver bars - a staggering 99 percent rate, Gordon says.
First uncovered through research, investigation of the wreck included an after-action report filed by the U-boat commander.
A team of investigators did additional historical digging, studied weather and water current information, and plugged everything into a computer. The projected spot for the wreck was several miles southwest of previous searches - and spot on.
When an Odyssey team investigated in late 2011, the long-lost ship was identified by a torpedo hole in its port side and the discovery of some letters on its hull.
The very first silver bar recovered from the Gairsoppa is featured in the ongoing exhibit "Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure" at Discovery Times Square.
More than 500 artifacts from Odyssey's deep-sea dives around the world are gathered for the display on W. 44th St.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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