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View Full Version : 200 Tons of Silver Found on WWII Ship



namvet
10-02-2011, 11:50 AM
saw this on CNN last night. billed as the biggest find in Maritime history. or so they say

http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/5655/shipis.png

A Florida company finds buried treasure worth an astounding amount of money. Odyssey Marine says it has located a World War II era ship that may have almost a quarter-of-a-billion dollars worth of silver on board.

It sits nearly three miles under water - deeper than the wreck of the Titanic. The S.S. Garisoppa has been at this resting place for 70 years.

"It was sunk by a U-boat, early in 1941 during WWII," Mark Gordon with Odyssey Marine said.


It was a stormy Second World War night when, on February 17, 1941, three lifeboats abandoned the SS Gairsoppa, a 412 foot-long British cargo ship en route from India to Liverpool, England.

In service of the Ministry of War Transport, the Gairsoppa was laden with tea, iron and tons of silver. Because of bad weather and insufficient coal, she was forced to break away from the military convoy off the coast of Ireland.
As the captain re-routed in emergency for Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, the merchant steamship and its crew of 86 men were hit by a torpedo from a Nazi U-boat. She sank in icy seas within 20 minutes.

Left at the mercy of the winds and waves, two lifeboats soon disappeared. A third boat managed to sail for 13 days, with only one person, second officer Richard Ayres, surviving the long journey to shore.

source (http://news.discovery.com/history/silver-haul-gairsoppa-110927.html)

it was sunk by U-101. the records were found from this Uboat which gave the exact position of the sinking.

U-101 service record
http://www.uboat.net/boats/u101.htm

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djones520
10-02-2011, 11:54 AM
There is some primal "fear" in me that just makes thinking about depths like that unsettling. I do not like deep water stuff.

Cool find though. Makes one wonder just what other treasures did they sink that would have been better served capturing?

SarasotaRepub
10-02-2011, 12:09 PM
Cool!!!

namvet
10-02-2011, 12:26 PM
There is some primal "fear" in me that just makes thinking about depths like that unsettling. I do not like deep water stuff.

Cool find though. Makes one wonder just what other treasures did they sink that would have been better served capturing?

you mean capture the ships instead of sinking them??? all the Nazi's wanted was to send it all to the bottom. a capture would involve great risks. but im sure the oceans of the world have undiscovered wrecks like this. some containing a kings ransome. they'll never be found.

SaintLouieWoman
10-02-2011, 12:30 PM
There is some primal "fear" in me that just makes thinking about depths like that unsettling. I do not like deep water stuff.

Cool find though. Makes one wonder just what other treasures did they sink that would have been better served capturing?

Good strategic thought. You would have thought someone back then would have perhaps decided to capture the boat.

Where I volunteer at Mote Marine here in Sarasota, the woman who has the deepest dive on record, Dr. Sylvia Earle, still is on the board and recently came to visit and give a talk to the volunteers. Many of the staff (like Dr Eugenie Clark who is in her mid 80's and still diving and coming to work every day) participate in those deep dives.

Dr Earle said that there's a whole world out there yet to be explored. She talks about the deep with such enthusiasm.

That much silver would make anyone seem enthusiastic. :D

namvet
10-02-2011, 12:39 PM
Good strategic thought. You would have thought someone back then would have perhaps decided to capture the boat.

Where I volunteer at Mote Marine here in Sarasota, the woman who has the deepest dive on record, Dr. Sylvia Earle, still is on the board and recently came to visit and give a talk to the volunteers. Many of the staff (like Dr Eugenie Clark who is in her mid 80's and still diving and coming to work every day) participate in those deep dives.

Dr Earle said that there's a whole world out there yet to be explored. She talks about the deep with such enthusiasm.

That much silver would make anyone seem enthusiastic. :D

sounds good in theory. but if they capture it who tows it to safety ??? Uboats and their surface ships were under constant attack. still I dare say they considered it. question is in a large convoy which one has the mother load????

djones520
10-02-2011, 12:43 PM
sounds good in theory. but if they capture it who tows it to safety ??? Uboats and their surface ships were under constant attack. still I dare say they considered it. question is in a large convoy which one has the mother load????

Yeah, it's definitely not a plan without risks. I guess they'd have had to move on targets of oppurtunity. Lone ships, done a quick boarding action. Offered to spare them if they turned over things of such value, etc...

I can't seem to find any easy info on this ship, so don't know if it was in a convoy or anything like that. I'm sure $250m woulda gone a long way towards Germany's war effort though. Or... the crew woulda shanghai'd it, and made of South America. Then think of the shipping that wouldn't have been lost from later sorties.

Lots of what if's.

namvet
10-02-2011, 12:59 PM
Yeah, it's definitely not a plan without risks. I guess they'd have had to move on targets of oppurtunity. Lone ships, done a quick boarding action. Offered to spare them if they turned over things of such value, etc...

I can't seem to find any easy info on this ship, so don't know if it was in a convoy or anything like that. I'm sure $250m woulda gone a long way towards Germany's war effort though. Or... the crew woulda shanghai'd it, and made of South America. Then think of the shipping that wouldn't have been lost from later sorties.

Lots of what if's.

Uboats were small and there be no room for a cargo this large. the freighter CO would have time to get him men off and scuttle the ship. these ships also carried war supplies as well.

she was part of a convoy. but strayed away because of bad weather and low fuel. she was a sittin' duck.

The SS Gairsoppa was a British steam merchant ship that saw service during the Second World War. She sailed with several convoys, before joining Convoy SL 64. Running low on fuel, she left the convoy and headed for Galway, Ireland, but was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat.

http://www.uboat.net/media/allies/merchants/br/gairsoppa.jpg

djones520
10-02-2011, 01:03 PM
I just looked it up, back then the cargo was only worth 600,000 pounds. Really wouldn't have been worth the effort.

But the ship was sailing solo, it had broken off from it's convoy to try to escape a storm. Would have been relatively safe to try to board and loot her.

Edit: guess you found some info as well.

fettpett
10-02-2011, 01:51 PM
I just looked it up, back then the cargo was only worth 600,000 pounds. Really wouldn't have been worth the effort.

But the ship was sailing solo, it had broken off from it's convoy to try to escape a storm. Would have been relatively safe to try to board and loot her.

Edit: guess you found some info as well.

only? dude...you realize was 600,000 pounds was equal to more than the whole of the spending of the US War Department in 1940? exchange rate was $4.03/ 1 pound and we only spent about 1.5 mil in 1940 :eek:

http://usgovernmentspending.blogspot.com/2009/03/world-war-ii-us-defense-spending.html
http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/dollhist-graph.htm

namvet
10-02-2011, 01:58 PM
there was no room on Uboats for their crew let alone cargo. they didn't even pickup survivors. no room for them. but they would tow survivor lifeboats back into the shipping lanes

djones520
10-02-2011, 01:58 PM
only? dude...you realize was 600,000 pounds was equal to more than the whole of the spending of the US War Department in 1940? exchange rate was $4.03/ 1 pound and we only spent about 1.5 mil in 1940 :eek:

http://usgovernmentspending.blogspot.com/2009/03/world-war-ii-us-defense-spending.html
http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/dollhist-graph.htm

Yeah, the War Department only had responsibility for the Army at the time as well. The Navy was completely differant. And 1940 was a pretty skimpy year. We were buying shitty tanks, and shitty planes so we weren't spending that much.

I'm having a hard time finding uninflated numbers, but Britain was spending 45% of it's GDP on defense spending in 1941. 600,000 pounds wouldn't have been that much money.

namvet
10-02-2011, 02:14 PM
US shipments were insured. in this case if this treasure was our property it pays off. and in at least one case it did. a US destroyer headed back to england was loaded with gold bars. payment from the Russians for war supplies. it was sunk and the insurance paid off. the brits had no claim so the expedition got it all

djones520
10-02-2011, 02:16 PM
US shipments were insured. in this case if this treasure was our property it pays off. and in at least one case it did. a US destroyer headed back to england was loaded with gold bars. payment from the Russians for war supplies. it was sunk and the insurance paid off. the brits had no claim so the expedition got it all

I read that Britain got 20%. The Expedition got to keep 80%.

namvet
10-02-2011, 02:21 PM
I read that Britain got 20%. The Expedition got to keep 80%.

that's right. but what gives them the right to claim anything. unless its inside their territorial waters ???

djones520
10-02-2011, 02:24 PM
that's right. but what gives them the right to claim anything. unless its inside their territorial waters ???

I think because maybe the government owned the ship? So they leased the salvage rights out for a share of the cut?

I'm not certain on that, but that seems the most likely reason to me.

namvet
10-02-2011, 02:33 PM
I think because maybe the government owned the ship? So they leased the salvage rights out for a share of the cut?

I'm not certain on that, but that seems the most likely reason to me.

the article claims The company was awarded an exclusive salvage contract by the British government in 2010. Under the agreement, Odyssey will retain 80 percent of the silver's value.

djones520
10-02-2011, 02:35 PM
the article claims The company was awarded an exclusive salvage contract by the British government in 2010. Under the agreement, Odyssey will retain 80 percent of the silver's value.

80% is still one hell of a hefty pay day. I'd still be a happy camper.

namvet
10-02-2011, 02:37 PM
80% is still one hell of a hefty pay day. I'd still be a happy camper.

me to. here's your 20% im gone :D

fettpett
10-02-2011, 02:40 PM
Yeah, the War Department only had responsibility for the Army at the time as well. The Navy was completely differant. And 1940 was a pretty skimpy year. We were buying shitty tanks, and shitty planes so we weren't spending that much.

I'm having a hard time finding uninflated numbers, but Britain was spending 45% of it's GDP on defense spending in 1941. 600,000 pounds wouldn't have been that much money.

while thats true, still a lot of money for those days...hell that was a time period when Millionaires were rare

Zathras
10-02-2011, 04:23 PM
there was no room on Uboats for their crew let alone cargo. they didn't even pickup survivors. no room for them. but they would tow survivor lifeboats back into the shipping lanes

Assistance to survivors by U-Boats ended after the Laconia incident....


The Laconia incident was an abortive naval rescue attempt in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. On 12 September 1942, RMS Laconia, carrying some 80 civilians, 268 British Army soldiers, about 1,800 Italian prisoners of war, and 160 Polish soldiers (on guard), was struck and sunk by a torpedo from Kriegsmarine submarine U-156 off the coast of west Africa. The U-boat commander, Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartenstein and his crew immediately commenced rescue operations and were joined by the crews of other U-boats in the area. Heading to a rendezvous with Vichy French ships under Red Cross banners, the U-boats were attacked by a U.S. Army B-24 Liberator bomber.

This event affected the operations of the German fleet, whose commanders were ordered (the "Laconia Order") by Admiral Karl Dönitz to stop trying to rescue civilian survivors, ushering in the subsequent unrestricted submarine warfare for the German Navy (Admiral Nimitz testified at Admiral Dönitz's trial that the US had practiced unrestricted warfare from day one). The controversy over the incident concerns the assistance and protection that military forces must afford non-combatants at sea during wartime. One international bestseller and numerous articles on the subject have been published, and a 2011 tv film produced, about the incident.

Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laconia_incident)

namvet
10-02-2011, 07:20 PM
Assistance to survivors by U-Boats ended after the Laconia incident....



Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laconia_incident)

thanks for posting. I remember reading this years ago. it proved not all Nazi's were bastards. but Uboats on the surface were prime targets. Dönitz knew the Uboats were done for. allied technology would catch up with them. In the end, Germany lost 743 boats, with an estimated 30,000 submariners lost, a casualty rate of 75%. the highest mortality rate of any service, allied or axis in the war.

I didn't know about the flick and sure like to see it. I have this and the US version "the Boat" in my collection

still the best sub movie ive seen

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Rockntractor
10-02-2011, 07:47 PM
That's mine, I've been looking for it everywhere.:mad:

Starbuck
10-02-2011, 08:04 PM
"Das Boot" was absolutely riveting. Combine that movie with a trip to the German sub in Chicago, and you really get a feel for what it must have been like for German submariners.

namvet
10-02-2011, 08:07 PM
That's mine, I've been looking for it everywhere.:mad:

das boot??? its available at almost all vid stores. now called the directors cut

namvet
10-02-2011, 08:07 PM
"Das Boot" was absolutely riveting. Combine that movie with a trip to the German sub in Chicago, and you really get a feel for what it must have been like for German submariners.

not bad for a 1981 flick. the one in Chicago is the U-505. I took the tour also. quite a story behind that one

fettpett
10-02-2011, 09:57 PM
"Das Boot" was absolutely riveting. Combine that movie with a trip to the German sub in Chicago, and you really get a feel for what it must have been like for German submariners.

I was just there and saw that...it's really cool

namvet
10-02-2011, 10:13 PM
got this in my collection. my dad took me to see it when i was just a kid

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