A British cargo ship carrying silver worth £135 million in today's money has been located deep in the North Atlantic, 70 years after it was sunk by a German torpedo.
The ship was attacked on 17 February 1941, with a single torpedo sinking the vessel and killing 85 crewmen with only one survivor. The 412-foot wreck, which is owned by the British Indian Steam Navigation Co., was discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration earlier in September.
Marine archaeologists from an exploration company based in Florida found the SS Gairsoppa resting almost three miles beneath the surface of the ocean with 200 tons of silver stashed in its hold.
"We were fortunate to find the shipwreck sitting upright, with the holds open and easily accessible. This should enable to us to unload cargo through the hatches, as would happen with a ship alongside a cargo terminal," said Greg Stemm, chief executive of Odyssey.
"Even though records indicate that the lifeboats were launched before the ship sank, sadly most of her crew did not survive the long journey to shore," said Neil Cunningham Dobson, Odyssey's principal marine archaeologist.
"By finding this shipwreck, and telling the story of its loss, we pay tribute to the brave merchant sailors who lost their lives," he added.
The contract to recover the wreck was awarded to Odyssey by the British government in 2010 and as part of the deal the company will retain 80 per cent of the value of the silver recovered.