61 tons of silver: biggest haul from a shipwreck

Florida company recovers 61 tons of silver from World War II shipwreck off coast of Ireland. At current silver prices, the 61 tons is worth more than $34 million. 

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    Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., has recovered 61 tons of silver after diving on the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site, near Ireland. The exploration crew set a new record for the deepest and largest precious metal recovery from a shipwreck.
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A Florida-based deep-sea exploration company said Monday that it has recovered more than 61 tons of silver bullion from a World War II shipwreck off the coast of Ireland.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, which is based in Tampa, said it recovered the silver this month from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot, steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank in February 1941.

"This was an extremely complex recovery which was complicated by the sheer size and structure of the SS Gairsoppa as well as its depth nearly three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic," Greg Stemm, Odyssey's chief executive officer, wrote in a news release. "To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access."

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According to the Tampa Tribune, with the price of silver at more than $19 per ounce, the haul is worth more than $34 million, 80 percent of which Odyssey will retain under the terms of the company's contract with the United Kingdom Department of Transport.

In 2012, Odyssey recovered nearly 48 tons of silver from the same wreck, bringing the total haul to 110 tons, or nearly 99 percent of the insured silver reported to be aboard the Gairsoppa when it sank.

The company has said the exploration crew set a record for the deepest and largest precious metal recovery from a shipwreck. The silver has been transported to a secure facility in the United Kingdom.

Odyssey discovered the SS Gairsoppa in 2011.

The Gairsoppa left Calcutta, India, in 1941 on its way to London with tons of tea and 7 million ounces of silver, worth 600,000 British pounds at the time.

A German U-boat spotted the vessel off the coast of Ireland on Feb. 17 and fired a torpedo that sunk the Gairsoppa 300 miles southwest of Galway Bay.

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