Irishman Andrew Craig has helped locate a silver haul worth over $230million dollar off the Atlantic Coast.
Craig is leading the US salvage team attempting to recover over 200 tonnes of silver from the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa, torpedoed some 300 miles off the Irish shoreline in 1941.
The UK steamship was sunk by a German U-Boat during the Second World War and currently lies at a depth of 4,700 meters.
If recovered, Craig’s American company will hand over 20% of the find – worth $46million – to the Dublin government under salvage laws.
The SS Gairsoppa has been successfully located by the American owned and Florida based Odyssey Marine Exploration company. It lies a mile deeper than the Titanic.
Craig, the senior project manager with the Odyssey company, told Irish radio on Tuesday that it will take three months to mount a successful recovery operation.
The valuable silver has lain at the bottom of the ocean for over 70 years but developments in technology mean a recovery operation is now viable.
Odyssey used a remote controlled submarine to locate and probe the wreck which they discovered to be upright on the sea bed.
Craig said his company is optimistic that the silver on board is worth $230million. “But until we get it up, we’re not going to know exactly how much is there,” he told Irish national radio station RTE.
“Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be suited for the recovery of this silver cargo.”
The ship was transporting goods for the British government war effort when it was attacked.
“The 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,” he explained.
Only one member of the 85 man crew managed to survive the sinking and turned up on the coast of England two weeks after his ship had been torpedoed.
The ship’s haul of silver will be the largest known cargo of precious metal ever recovered from the sea if the operation is successful.