US salvage company Odyssey Marine Exploration said on Monday it had found the sunken wreckage of a second British ship full of silver, this one torpedoed by a German submarine in World War I.
The Tampa, Florida, company said it had found the remains of the SS Mantola under 2,500m of water in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was located about 160km from the site of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck, which Odyssey discovered last month.
The Mantola sank on Feb. 9, 1917, after being torpedoed by a German submarine. It was believed to be carrying about 600,000 ounces of silver, based on a claim paid that year by the British Ministry of War Transport.
That amount would be worth more than US$19 million at today’s spot-market price for silver.
The British government has awarded Odyssey a salvage contract for the Mantola’s cargo, allowing Odyssey to keep 80 percent of the net salvaged silver value recovered.
The company was awarded a similar contract for the cargo of the Gairsoppa, which sank on Feb. 17, 1941, after it was hit by a torpedo from a German U-Boat during World War II. The Gairsoppa’s cargo included about 7 million ounces of silver, which would make it the largest known cargo of precious metal ever recovered from the sea.
The Odyssey said it expects to begin salvaging both sites in the spring, when the weather calms in the North Atlantic.
The Gairsoppa’s wreckage was found at a depth of 4,700m, much greater than that of the Mantola.
“The incremental costs to search for the Mantola were low, as this was a contingency project in the event that our team successfully completed the Gairsoppa search early,” Odyssey president and chief operating officer Mark Gordon said in a statement.
The company used remotely operated vehicles to inspect the sites. It said several of its team members have experience with modern salvage to depths of nearly 6,000m.