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.

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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.