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SS Central America

SS Gairsoppa
SS Mantola
HMS Victory
SS Republic
Black Swan
HMS Sussex
Blue China
Other Shipwrecks
The ROV ZEUS works around the clock on shipwreck sites often thousands of feet deep

SS Central America Project Overview

The SS Central America was an 85-meter (280-foot) wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted side-wheel steamship launched in 1852. The ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco during the California Gold Rush era. Owned and operated by the United States Mail Steamship Company, the SS Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857.

When she was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.

In 1988, the SS Central America shipwreck site was located 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina, at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) by the Columbus America Discovery Group acting as agent for Recovery Limited Partnership. Between 1988 and 1991, over 1,000 hours of bottom time was recorded but only 5% of the shipwreck site was investigated. Further exploration of the site was halted for over two decades as lengthy legal battles played out.

In 2014, Odyssey Marine Exploration was awarded the exclusive contract to conduct an archaeological excavation and recover the remaining valuable cargo from the SS Central America shipwreck by the receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP). Work at the site began in April 2014.


Click here for the latest operational update on the Central America project.

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