The SS Gairsoppa was a 125-meter steel-hulled British cargo steamship that was enlisted in the service of the United Kingdom Ministry of War Transport and sunk by a German U-boat on February 16, 1941, approximately 300 miles southwest of Galway, Ireland.


The UK Ministry of War Transport paid an insurance loss of approximately £325,000 at the time for silver bars lost with the ship.

 

In 2010, the United Kingdom (UK) Government Department for Transport awarded Odyssey Marine Exploration an exclusive salvage contract for this cargo from the Gairsoppa


In 2011, Odyssey located the Gairsoppa shipwreck approximately 4,700 meters below the surface of the North Atlantic, in international waters, 300 miles off the coast of Ireland.

 

Recovery operations on the site were conducted by the Odyssey team of project managers, ROV operators and engineers starting in 2012. In July of that year, Odyssey announced the recovery of approximately 48 tons of silver (1.4 million ounces) from the  site. Then in 2013, Odyssey recovered more than 61 tons (1.8 million ounces) of silver from the shipwreck. To date, over 110 tons or 2,792 silver ingots (more than 99% of the insured silver documented to be on board) has been recovered from the SS Gairsoppa.

 

This groundbreaking operation is one of the largest to be conducted in the deep ocean. The project was featured in the three-part Discovery Channel series SILVER RUSH. Recently released Voices from the Deep tells the story of the ship using the wreck's wide-ranging finds including the 700 pieces of mail which were conserved and studied.

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SS Gairsoppa
SS Gairsoppa

A side-scan sonar image of the SS Gairsoppa

The bow of the SS Gairsoppa with both anchors visible has been lying nearly 3 miles beneath the North Atlantic since 1941.

The Odyssey crew inspects the silver bars as they are recovered from the SS Gairsoppa site and unloaded on deck of the Seabed Worker. In July 2013 from the site, which yielded 1,574 (60 tons) silver ingots. In July of 2012, Odyssey also recovered 1,218 (48 tons) silver ingots from the site.

Odyssey Senior Project Managers Andrew Craig and Ernie Tapanes inspect the first silver bar recovered in 2013 from the SS Gairsoppa site, which lies 4,700 meters deep 300 miles off the coast of Galway, Ireland. In July of 2013 from the site, which yielded 1,574 (60 tons) silver ingots. In July of 2012, Odyssey also recovered 1,218 (48 tons) silver ingots from the site.

Odyssey’s team works around the clock during Gairsoppa recovery operations conducted aboard the Seabed Worker.

Gairsoppa skylight
Gairsoppa skylight

The skylight over the engine room and a lifeboat cradle on the SS Gairsoppa.

SS G airsoppa Compass
SS G airsoppa Compass

The SS Gairsoppa had an emergency stern steering station on the top of the poop deck.

The remains of a water closet with an intact toilet found on the Gairsoppa.