The following is the text of a press release issued by Odyssey Marine Exploration:
(TAMPA, Fla.) — Odyssey Marine
Exploration (Nasdaq:OMEX), pioneers in the field of deep-ocean
exploration, today announced it has successfully recovered
approximately 48 tons of silver bullion from a depth of approximately
three miles. This initial recovery of bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, a
412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank in February 1941,
totals 1,203 silver bars or approximately 1.4 million troy ounces of
silver and has been transported to a secure facility in the United
Kingdom. After unloading the cargo, taking on fuel and changing
personnel, recovery operations will continue and are expected to be
completed in the third quarter of 2012.This record-breaking operation
has so far produced the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious
metals from a shipwreck.
Odyssey is conducting the Gairsoppa project under contract with the UK
Department for Transport. Under the terms of the agreement, which
follows standard commercial practices, Odyssey bears the risk of search
and recovery and retains 80% of the net salved value of the Gairsoppa
silver cargo after recovering its expenses. The contract was awarded to
Odyssey following a competitive tender process.
The amount of silver bars recovered so far represents approximately 43%
of the insured silver bars, or approximately 20% of the total silver
cargo which research has indicated may be on board. In addition, an
estimated 600,000 oz. of insured silver is expected to be found on the
SS Mantola, a second modern shipwreck recovery project being conducted
in conjunction with the Gairsoppa project. Upcoming operational plans
include continued recovery of silver on the Gairsoppa from the cargo
area that is in the process of being cleared and then the inspection of
other cargo holds if the current area does not hold the rest of the
expected bullion. Serial numbers and other markings from the silver
bars recovered to date all match the contemporary insured silver cargo
documentation therefore it is anticipated that the entire insured
amount is aboard. However, it is unknown at this point whether there is
additional uninsured silver on the site.
The Gairsoppa was a merchant ship torpedoed by a German U-boat during
World War II. During the War, the UK Government insured privately owned
cargo under their War Risk Insurance program. After making an insurance
payment of approximately POUND325,000 (1941 value) to the owners of the
silver cargo lost aboard the Gairsoppa, the UK Government became the
owners of the insured cargo. As some sources, including "Lloyd's War
Losses" indicate a total silver cargo worth POUND600,000 (1941 value)
lost aboard the Gairsoppa, there may have been additional
government-owned silver cargo aboard that would have been self-insured.
"With the shipwreck lying approximately three miles below the surface
of the North Atlantic, this was a complex operation," commented Greg
Stemm, Odyssey Chief Executive Officer. "Our capacity to conduct
precision cuts and successfully complete the surgical removal of
bullion from secure areas on the ship demonstrates our capabilities to
undertake complicated tasks in the very deep ocean. This technology
will be applicable to other modern shipwreck projects currently being
scheduled as well as our deep ocean mineral exploration activities. Our
success on the Gairsoppa marks the beginning of a new paradigm for
Odyssey in which we expect modern shipwreck projects will complement
our archaeological shipwreck excavations."
"The progress on this project is a testament to our world-class team.
Our research department developed extensive information about the
vessel's sinking and layout of the ship, and our marine operations team
was able to locate both the Gairsoppa and the Mantola shipwreck sites
relatively quickly last summer. We assembled the suite of equipment
necessary for a successful recovery and conducted reconnaissance dives
to plan efficient operations." said Mark Gordon, Odyssey President and
Chief Operating Officer. "This demonstrates the viability of the
business model we have developed to identify and recover the historic
knowledge and economic value of otherwise lost government assets."
Odyssey commenced recovery operations utilizing the chartered 291-foot
Seabed Worker in late May after completing a series of reconnaissance
dives earlier in the year. Odyssey has contracted JBR Recovery Limited,
one of Europe's leading silver recovery and precious metal processing
specialists, to support the logistics, refining and monetization of the
silver cargo recovered.
The public will have the opportunity to share in the excitement of the
recovery operations when television specials produced by JWM
Productions premiere on Discovery Channel in the United States and
Channel 5 in the United Kingdom.
Information about the Gairsoppa project, including pictures of the
operation, can be found on Odyssey's website:
http://shipwreck.net/ssgairsoppa.php. Those interested in staying up to
date on the latest news about Odyssey are encouraged to sign up for
free email alerts: http://www.shipwreck.net/register.php.