Treasure in the deep

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 10:12am

A Florida company says it has found sunken treasure worth an astounding amount of money.

Odyssey Marine says it has located a World War II era ship that may have almost a quarter of a billion dollars worth of silver on board.

It sits nearly three miles under water, deeper than the wreck of the Titanic.

The S.S. Garisoppa has been at it's resting place on the sea floor for 70 years.

Mark Gordon is the president of Tampa based Odyssey Marine and was on board an Odyssey vessel when they found the wreck of the Garisoppa.

"And when the shipwreck comes into view for the first time and you are some of the people to see this in over 70 years, it's pretty amazing," he says.

The Garisoppa does not hold the same place in history that the Titanic holds, but it is of interest to Odyssey Marine and the British government.

"It was a cargo ship, it was carrying lots of interesting things of, most interest to us and probably our shareholders, it was carrying a lot of silver, potentially seven million ounces of silver," Gordon says.

Seven million ounces of silver worth an estimated $220-million.

Odyssey found the Garisoppa with the help of records kept by the German U-boat crew that sank it.

"Germans being meticulous record keepers really worked to our advantage in this case because, the U-boat actually recorded the precise location that they had targeted and sunk this ship and we found it not too far away from where they had reported the data," Gordon says.

The cargo doors of the ship were blown off when it sank.

Odyssey was able to fly a remotely operated vehicle into the cargo hold and see crates of tea that were on the ships manifest.

They believe under the tea lies the silver.

"So we're hoping we'll be able to get in and neatly move the tea chests and pick up the silver bars," Gordon says.

Odyssey has an agreement with the British government to split the treasure when it's recovered.

Amazingly, even though it's three miles under water, odyssey believes they can recover the silver with less than 90 days of work.

Odyssey Marine says the shipwreck is located off the coast of Ireland and is in international waters.

Their agreement with Britain allows odyssey to keep 80% percent of the treasure.

The British government and the insurance company that handled the claim in 1941 will get the remaining 20% of the treasure.

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