$35 MILLION WWII SHIPWRECK TREASURE: 1,574 SILVER INGOTS RECOVERED FROM WWII SHIPWRECK SS GAIRSOPPA BY ODYSSEY MARINE EXPLORATION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC EXPECTED TO BE WORTH $35 MILLION

Despite nasty 30-foot ocean swells, the extreme depth and other difficulties, the Odyssey Marine Exploration team used robotic equipment to make almost-surgical cuts into the SS Gairsoppa wreck — and then carefully removed the valuable cargo.

Explorers raise the bar — 1,574 silver ones — in WW II shipwreck

Odyssey Marine Exploration just finished a record-setting recovery effort in the North Atlantic, pulling 1,574 silver ingots from the wreck of merchant ship SS Gairsoppa three miles below the choppy seas. The total value is expected to rise more than $35 million.

By / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, July 21, 2013	The Odyssey Marine Exploration team pulled 1,574 silver ingots (above) from wreckage of Gairsoppa, sunk by Germans in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.

The Odyssey Marine Exploration team pulled 1,574 silver ingots from the wreckage of the SS Gairsoppa, which was sunk by Germans in the North Atlantic during World War II.

 

The mournful tale of the SS Gairsoppa stood unchanged for seven decades — sunk by a German U-boat, 84 people killed, its fortune in silver bars forever lost to the Atlantic Ocean.

There’s a new ending now — with a twist long considered impossible.

 

The team at Odyssey Marine Exploration just finished a record-setting recovery effort in the North Atlantic, pulling 1,574 silver ingots from the wreck of the merchant ship three miles below the choppy seas.

The total value is expected to climb above $35 million.

Despite nasty 30-foot ocean swells, the extreme depth and other difficulties, the Odyssey Marine Exploration team used robotic equipment to make almost-surgical cuts into the SS Gairsoppa wreck — and then carefully removed the valuable cargo.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.

Despite nasty 30-foot ocean swells, the extreme depth and other difficulties, the Odyssey Marine Exploration team used robotic equipment to make almost-surgical cuts into the SS Gairsoppa wreck — and then carefully removed the valuable cargo.

“I just got a chill up my spine thinking about it,” said Mark Gordon, the company’s president and CEO. “It’s unbelievable. We’re the first people in 70 years to solve this mystery.”

The silver stash pulled from the long-lost World War II wreck set records for both the heaviest recovery in tons of precious metal  — more than 60 tons — and the depth of the effort.

Last year, Odyssey pulled 48 tons of the 80-pound silver bars from the same wreck.

“We just bumped the bar up,” said a delighted Gordon.

The Odyssey Marine Exploration crew inspects silver bars as they are recovered from the SS Gairsoppa site and unloaded on the deck of the Seabed Worker.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.

The Odyssey Marine Exploration crew inspects silver bars as they are recovered from the SS Gairsoppa site and unloaded on the deck of the Seabed Worker.

Typically, a recovery rate of 85% of the cargo from a sunken ship is considered successful. This effort recovered all but 25 of the original 2,817 silver bars — a staggering 99% rate, said Gordon.

The wreck site was located first through research, including 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.

Their projected spot for the wreck was several miles southwest of previous searches — and spot on.

Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig directs operations on the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site from aboard the Seabed Worker.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.

Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig directs operations on the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site from aboard the Seabed Worker.

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.

Despite nasty 30-foot ocean swells, the extreme depth and other difficulties, the team used robotic equipment to make almost-surgical cuts into the wreck — and then carefully removed the valuable cargo.

Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig and Ernie Tapanes inspect navigation lights that were recovered from the SS Gairsoppa in addition to silver cargo.

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.

Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig and Ernie Tapanes inspect navigation lights that were recovered from the SS Gairsoppa in addition to silver cargo.

The only problem? The Odyssey team wasn’t sure if they had found silver or a load of pig iron from the Gairsoppa.

It took 3 1/2 hours to bring one load of ingots to the ocean surface — where the good news was quickly confirmed.

“It’s a thrilling moment,” said Odyssey Senior Project Manager Andrew Craig. “Not only did we find treasure, we accomplished something that most people thought was impossible.”

Gordon offered an analogy for the search.

“The next time you’re in an airplane, look down from 15,000 feet,” he said. “See that house that’s like a little dot? Imagine you left your sunglasses somewhere in that house. And we had to find them.”

The ship was carrying a cargo of pig iron, tea and silver when sunk on Feb. 17, 1941. All but one of the 85 people aboard were killed — the lone survivor spent 13 days alone in a lifeboat.

Craig said the record effort was just the tip of the recovery iceberg for his company, which maintains a list of 6,000 wreck sites — roughly 100 listed as “high value.”

“We know now we can be successful at this depth,” Craig said. “This opens up new targets in our portfolio to go after in the deep ocean.”

lmcshane@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/explorers-raise-silver-bar-ww-ii-shipwreck-article-1.1404808#ixzz2ZgSTePNk

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