Huge silver haul found on WWII Indian shipwreck

The ship, which belonged to the British India Steam Navigation Company, saw action during the Second World War.

London: In one of the largest shipwreck
hauls, nearly 150 million pounds worth of silver has been
found on a British ship that was travelling from India but was sunk
by a German U-boat in the Atlantic in 1941.

The wreck of SS Gairsoppa has been found to contain 200
tonnes of silver by the American exploration company, Odyssey
Marine, which will keep 80 per cent of the cargo’s value
according to a contract with the Department of Transport.

The ship, which belonged to the British India Steam
Navigation Company, saw action during the Second World War.

The wreck of the ship was located earlier this year.

Only one person from the 85-strong crew survived the
torpedo attack as the ageing steamer tried to reach Ireland,
according to the BBC.

The ship was on its way back to Britain from India when
it ran low on fuel in stormy weather, and tried to divert to
Galway harbour, but it was spotted and sunk by the German
submarine.

The wreck of the 412ft ship was found this summer nearly
4,700m below the North Atlantic, 300 miles off the Irish
coast, but it was only confirmed as SS Gairsoppa last week.

Odyssey Marine`s senior project manager, Andrew Craig,
told the BBC: "We`ve accomplished the first phase of this
project - the location and identification of the target
shipwreck. Now we`re hard at work planning for the recovery
phase".

He added: "Given the orientation and condition of the
shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage
operation will be well suited for the recovery of this silver
cargo."

Work to recover the cargo will begin in the second
quarter of 2012, Odyssey said.

Odyssey`s chief marine archaeologist Neil Dobson said:
"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".

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "The
contract for the salvage of the SS Gairsoppa was awarded by
competitive tender in accordance with government and
departmental procedures".

She added: "While we do not comment on the specifics of
such commercial arrangements, Odyssey Marine Exploration were
awarded the contract as they offered the best rate of return
to HMG."

PTI

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