In one of the largest shipwreck hauls, nearly £150 million-worth silver has been found on a British ship that was travelling from India but was sunk by a German U-boat in the Atlantic in 1941.
The wreck of SS Gairsoppa has been found to contain 200 tonnes of silver by the American exploration company, Odyssey Marine, which will keep 80 per cent of the cargo's value according to a contract with the Department of Transport.
The ship, which belonged to the British India Steam Navigation Company, saw action during the Second World War. The wreck was located earlier this year.
Only one person from the 85-strong crew survived the torpedo attack as the ageing steamer tried to reach Ireland, according to the BBC.
The ship was on its way back to Britain from India when it ran low on fuel in stormy weather, and tried to divert to Galway harbour, but it was spotted and sunk by the German submarine.
The wreck of the 412 feet ship was found this summer nearly 4,700 m below the North Atlantic, 300 miles off the Irish coast, but it was only confirmed as SS Gairsoppa last week.
Odyssey Marine's senior project manager Andrew Craig told the BBC: “We've accomplished the first phase of this project — the location and identification of the target shipwreck. Now we're hard at work planning for the recovery phase.”
He added: “Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be well-suited for the recovery of this silver cargo.”
Work to recover the cargo will begin in the second quarter of 2012, Odyssey has said.
Odyssey's chief marine archaeologist Neil Dobson said: “Even though records indicate that the lifeboats were launched before the ship sank, sadly most of her crew did not survive the long journey to shore.”