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Monday 19 February 2018

Irishman leads bid to retrieve €170m fortune at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean

A skylight over the engine room of the SS Gairsoppa. Photo: PA
A skylight over the engine room of the SS Gairsoppa. Photo: PA
TheOdyssey Explorer which looked for the ship wreck of the SS Gairsoppa. Photo: PA
The team launching a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to conduct visual inspection the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site. Photo: PA
The stern compass on the top of the poop deck of the British cargo ship the SS Gairsoppa reporters

AN IRISHMAN is leading an audacious attempt to recover 200 tonnes of silver - worth €170m - from a shipwreck lying a mile deeper than the Titanic and located 300 miles off the Irish Atlantic coast.

Andrew Craig, the senior project manager with Odyssey Marine Exploration, estimated that it would take three months "from start to finish" to recover the valuable haul of metal which has been over 70 years at the bottom of the sea.

He said that although the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa has lain with its cargo of silver since being torpedoed during World War 11, it was only recently that it has become a viable recovery option due to the advances in technology.

Mr Craig said on Morning Ireland that in the event of a full recovery being made, his company would take 80 per cent of the value and the Department of Transport would get the other 20 per cent - a €35m boost to the Irish economy.

The UK steamship was sunk by a German U-boat in 1941 and is currently resting in a water depth of 4,700 metres. It was discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration which used a remote controlled submarine to probe the wreck.

The vessel was upright on the seabed, Mr Craig said, adding that he was optimistic that there was seven million ounces of silver on board.

"But until we get it up, we're not going to know exactly how much is there," he stressed.

Mr Craig explained that SS Gairsoppa had been travelling from India to Britain when she became separated from the rest of the convoy.

The vessel was also burning too much coal but as the crew attempted to bring it safely in to port at Galway, she was fatally struck.

Only one member of the 85 man crew managed to survive after a lifeboat was launched. He turned up on the coast of England two weeks later after a number of other sailors failed to make it to safety.

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