Saturday 3 December 2016

Wreck of UK silver ship sunk by U-boat is found

Victoria Ward in London

Published 27/09/2011 | 05:00

The wreck of a British cargo ship containing silver worth £155m (€179m), sunk by a German U-boat during World War Two, has been discovered on the Atlantic seabed.

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Expert underwater archaeologists will attempt to salvage the treasure, handing 20pc of its value to the UK government.

The SS Gairsoppa set sail from India in December 1940 carrying a consignment of 240 tonnes of silver, iron and tea.

It was headed for Liverpool but was forced to break away from its military convoy off the coast of Ireland as weather conditions deteriorated. As the steamship tried to make it to Galway it was attacked by the German submarine U101.

On February 17, 1941, a single torpedo sank the vessel, killing all 85 crewmen except one. Richard Ayres -- the sole survivor -- reached the Cornish coast 13 days later. He was awarded an MBE for his attempts to rescue his fellow sailors and lived until 1992.

The wreck of the 412ft-long Gairsoppa, owned by the British Indian Steam Navigation Company, was discovered earlier this month by Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Britain's department of transport awarded the Florida-based treasure hunters a contract to conduct the search, allowing the company to retain 80pc of any silver salvaged.

Although none of the precious metal has yet been found, the shiny tin linings of the tea chests were initially mistaken for silver bars, according to the 'New York Times'.

The recovery is expected to begin in spring. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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