by Adam Crum
In the very early days of World War II, the high seas were no place for those faint of heart.
Nazi Germany had a large and lethal force of submarines, sent out in so-called “Wolf-Packs,” to search for and destroy the numerous cargo ships bringing much-needed war supplies to England and other Allied countries. Although most ships did indeed reach their destinations to off-load their precious and critically-needed cargo, more than three thousand ships, sadly, never made port and were regularly and mercilessly sunk by German U-boats throughout the war, with great loss of life and treasure.
Such was the case with a very special British merchant freighter, the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled cargo steamship that was bound from Bombay via western Africa and on to Britain with a cargo of tea, pig iron . . . and up to 7 million ounces of silver bullion.
In a fierce North Atlantic storm and running low on coal, the Gairsoppa was forced to abandon the safety of her protective convoy and make way for the shelter of Galway, Ireland, some 300 miles to the north. Alone and running slow, the ship was an easy target . . . and she was soon cornered and sunk by a single torpedo fired by the U-101, one of the more deadly German submarines prowling the area. Just after midnight on February 17, 1941, the Gairsoppa sank to the seafloor, nearly three miles below the surface. The freighter’s second officer was the sole survivor . . . all other hands perished.
Seventy years later, Odyssey Marine Exploration located the Gairsoppa shipwreck and began the process of documenting the discovery and recovering the silver bullion from the sunken ship. In 2012, a total of approximately 1.4 million ounces of silver bullion bars were brought to the surface . . . and in 2013, an additional 1.8 million ounces of silver bars were recovered. To date, Odyssey has recovered more than 110 tons of silver bars from the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck, the largest and heaviest recovery of precious metal from a shipwreck in history.
The fascinating and still-evolving story of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck and recovery has been featured in a three-part documentary, SILVER RUSH, which debuted on the Discovery Channel in 2013.
Of all of the silver so far recovered from the SS Gairsoppa, a mere fraction of the total – a mere 462 of the 2,792 silver bars recovered – are highly-desirable, pure .999 fine silver bullion bars. The balance of the recovered silver from the Gairsoppa was found to be in a less-than-pure form.
Stay tuned . . . this fascinating story could get even more interesting. And I will be watching for new developments in this intriguing story and passing on any and all new information discovered to our loyal and valued customers.
For more than a decade, Monaco Financial – today, better known as Monaco Rare Coins – has specialized in acquiring unique and historical shipwreck treasure items for discriminating collectors and investors. Since 2001, Monaco has been the leading dealer for the California Gold Rush assayer ingots, gold coins, gold nuggets and other treasure recovered from the SS Central America shipwreck.
And now, Monaco has acquired a limited number of the highest quality, pure .999 fine silver ingots recovered from the shipwreck of the SS Gairsoppa and is now making them available to those collectors and investors who can appreciate this unique and exceptional numismatic opportunity.
Each of these unique and hefty silver bullion bars weighs approximately 1,100 troy ounces – over 90 pounds! – and each carries the hallmark of His Majesty’s Mint at Bombay, along with the ingot’s marked weight, fineness and unique wartime serial number. As a result, each pure silver bar is truly unique . . . and each is an historical symbol of the strength, wealth and courage of the Allied war effort in the early days of World War II.
For more information on the treasure of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck and the unique pure silver ingots now available, call Monaco today and speak with one of our Shipwreck Treasure Specialists.