As of July 2013, 99% of the silver from the S.S. Gairsoppa shipwreck site has been recovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration.
In December of 1940, the steel-hulled British cargo steamship Gairsoppa — carrying 7,000 tons of silver, pig iron, tea, and other cargo — set sail from Calcutta, India. It was the midst of World War II, and merchant ships on the open sea were easy targets for Nazi submarines. After changing its course due to bad weather, the Gairsoppa found itself alone and running out of fuel in the North Atlantic. After being spotted by a German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 airplane, it was doomed. Just 14 hours later, German U-boat U-101 captain Ernst Mengersen located it 300 miles southwest of Galway Bay. The Nazis fired four torpedoes, one of which hit the ailing steamship, causing an explosion and snapping the wireless antennae used to transmit distress calls. The ship sank shortly after the attack, into the icy waters of the North Atlantic.
The hunt for shipwreck treasure has captured the imagination of many seeking adventure, and collectors and investors alike jump at the chance to add these unique symbols of the past to their collections and portfolios. Like the gold recovered from the S.S. Republic and S.S. Central America, Gairsoppa’s silver ingots possess a rarity and uniqueness that make them irresistible.
Each silver bullion bar recovered in July 2013 from the Gairsoppa wreckage contains nearly 1,100 ounces of .999 pure silver. Each has a unique serial number and is stamped with “HM Mint Bombay,” which stands for “His Majesty’s Mint at Bombay.” To date, 2,792 silver bars totaling approximately 3.2 million troy ounces of silver (approximately 110 tons) have been recovered in two separate salvage operations, the first in 2012 and the second, 2013. All but 462 of these bars will be melted down to create silver bullion coins. The July 2013 salvage operation of the Gairsoppa was the deepest and heaviest recovery of precious metal from a shipwreck site in history.