A marine salvager specialising in extracting cargoes from sunken ships has recovered its first gold from a 19th-century vessel lying more than a kilometre beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered almost 1000 ounces (28 kilograms) on April 15 during its first reconnaissance dive to the wreck of the SS Central America. The precious metal included five gold ingots and two $US20 Double Eagle coins, the Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey said on Monday.
Gold treasure recovered from 1857 shipwreck
Deep-ocean exploration company in Florida says it has recovered nearly 28 kilograms of gold, worth $1.4 million, on a reconnaissance dive to a historic Atlantic Ocean shipwreck.
"Gold ingots and other artefacts were clearly visible on the surface of the site during the dive and no excavation was required for their removal," it said.
The Central America, a sidewheel steamer, sank in 1857, more than 250 kilometres off the coast of South Carolina, with the loss of 425 lives. Previous recovery efforts in 1989 through to 1991 netted more than two tonnes of gold. Odyssey has said that, based on certain assumptions, including that the remaining items are in the form of Double Eagle coins, there may still be $US86 million ($92 million) of gold at the site.
The two Double Eagle coins recovered in the April 15 dive were minted in 1857 and 1850, while the gold ingots were stamped with assayer's marks and weights that range from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces, Odyssey said.
The dive took place as Odyssey's research vessel, the Odyssey Explorer, was on the way from Britain to Charleston to prepare for the SS Central America project.
Only a few items were recovered because the dive was focused on reconnaissance, Odyssey said. The items brought up from the site also included a bottle, a piece of pottery, a sample of the shipwreck's wooden structure, and part of a scientific experiment that was left at the site more than 20 years ago.
Odyssey was contracted for the salvage work by Ira Owen Kane, a court-appointed receiver for the companies that undertook the original recovery project that ended in the early 1990s. Odyssey will receive 80 per cent of recovery proceeds until a fixed fee and a negotiated day rate are paid. After that, Odyssey will get 45 per cent.
The company said it will begin its archaeological excavation of the wreck once it has completed a survey of the site.