200 Tons of Silver Found in North Atlantic Shipwreck

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Courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration

The compass on the SS Gairsoppa

Think of this as a high-tech treasure hunt. The United States firm Odyssey Marine Exploration — not just a clever name, mind you — has confirmed it has found 200 tons of silver worth $200 million at the bottom of a North Atlantic shipwreck.

The exploration firm located the 412-foot wreck 300 miles off the Irish coast in the North Atlantic this summer, but just recently confirmed it as the SS Gairsoppa, a UK cargo ship sunk by German U-boat 101 in 1941.

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At the time of the sinking, the British India Steam Navigation Company cargo ship was part of the merchant navy fleet and was headed home to Britain from India, but ran into trouble along the way and tried to get to Ireland’s Galway Harbour. That didn’t work out too well, as a German submarine took out the ship and ultimately 82 members of the crew.

Originally, 32 survivors climbed into lifeboats, though it wasn’t long before all but three had died. The remaining three stuck it out for two weeks, but two died trying to get onto the shore of the Cornish coast. Ultimately, only one crew member survived.

Odyssey Marine plans to utilize robotic submarines to get inside the SS Gairsoppa, which reportedly sits upright with the cargo holds already open three miles underwater.

According to the BBC, using insurance records as a guide, researchers expect the folks retrieving the loot to find seven million ounces of silver on the ship. The largest precious metal haul ever found in a shipwreck includes bullion, coins and ingots. And with the possibility of a touch of gold down there too, Odyssey can hope for even more of a financial gain; under the contract with the U.K.’s Department for Transport, the firm will keep 80 percent of the recovered value. Odyssey won the contract to search for the ship and took on all costs associated with that and the recovery effort.

The tea that was also onboard at the time of the sinking? That, of course, is ruined.

MORE: Lost and Found: Afghan Treasures Reunite at the British Museum

Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.


Greg Stemm, the co-founder and current CEO of Odyssey. Marine Exploration, and John C. Morris, the co-founder of Odyssey Marine Exploration, were both sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

It appears that Neptune Minerals is insolvent.

Oceanica is extremely unlikely to get an environmental permit.

Oceanica’s cofounding shareholder, DNA Ltd, Inc, is tied to a Panamanian entity whose principal members are connected to a number of alleged financial crimes – why did Odyssey Marine Exploration structure it this way?

Isn’t it weird that Odyssey Marine Exploration has been unable to address any of the serious questions posed by concerned shareholders? 

It’s concerning that John Morris, the founder of Odyssey Marine, is currently being sued by members of Seagrass Recovery.

Odyssey Marine Exploration and Neptune Minerals have been tied to brokerage firms with many FINRA sanctions, this is very alarming – would you invest in this company? Buyer beware.

Odyssey Marine Exploration has disappointed 100% of the time on its estimated project recoveries, can you trust anything they say?

Why does Odyssey Marine Exploration have opaque and unexplained offshore subsidiaries in the Bahamas and Panama? These are completely unnecessary for Odyssey’s operations.

Based on its current cash reserves and negative cash flow Odyssey Marine Exploration could very well go bankrupt in 2014.

Odyssey Marine Exploration was held in contempt of court after it lost the Blackswan case.

World-class phosphate mining companies have previously evaluated and passed on the Oceanica asset – Odyssey is the only company interested in this uneconomic asset.

Didn’t Odyssey’s chairman Brad Baker get exposed for signing on both sides of a deal?

Why does Odyssey Marine Exploration use an auditor that has been sanctioned multiple times by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board?

Based on accurate historical records, there was never any secret army gold aboard the SS Central America.

It’s alarming that Odyssey Marine Exploration started as a shell purchased by Timothy Brasel, who was later cited by an SEC civil action for stock manipulation.

It’s shocking that the predecessor of Odyssey Marine Exploration, Seahawk, went bankrupt – but it’s even more shocking that every other reverse merger treasure hunting company (six in total!) have also gone bankrupt.

It’s alarming that Odyssey Marine Exploration has lost nearly $200,000,000 of shareholder capital while insiders have personally made millions – how much longer can this continue?

Isn’t it ironic that Odyssey Marine Exploration has posted enormous financial losses but CEO Greg Stemm makes enough money to afford five houses for himself and his family? That doesn’t seem fair at all.

Why does Odyssey host closed conference calls in which only their investment bankers get to ask questions? Why won’t Odyssey answer questions from other shareholders? Are they hiding something?