The SS Gairsoppa left 48 tons of silver when the British ship sunk off the coast of Ireland during World War II, and about $38 million has been recovered from the wreck that’s 15,000 feet under the sea.
According to Discovery News, treasure-hunting company Odyssey Marine Exploration hauled in a whopping 1,203 bars of the treasure, totaling 1.4 million ounces, in what could be the deepest, largest precious metal recovery ever.
Odyssey says this load represents only about 20 percent of all the bullion residing in the Gairsoppa.
“With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation,” Odyssey chief executive officer Greg Stemm said in a statement. “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.”
Torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, the Gairsoppa sat 300 miles off the coast of Ireland since World War II, the Associated Press reports. But the merchant ship’s contents were privately insured by the War Risk insurance program, and once the owners were paid, the British government took possession of the Gairsoppa and its cargo.
For its efforts, Odyssey will get to keep 80 percent of the recovered silver, minus expenses, per a contract with the U.K. The marine exploration company hopes to have the remaining cargo recovered within 90 days.
In December, a library janitor found a treasure of silver and gold coins worth millions in Germany. The coins can be traced to ancient Rome, Greece and the Byzantine empire. The library officials believe the forgotten coins were hidden there in the 19th century by local prince-bishops to avoid paying taxes.