Tag Archive for Wreck

Shipwreck of SS Gairsoppa reveals £150m silver haul

From the BBC:

A shipwreck containing 200 tonnes of silver worth £150m has been discovered in the Atlantic – the largest haul of precious metal ever found at sea.

The SS Gairsoppa, a UK cargo ship sunk by a German U-boat in 1941, was found by US exploration firm Odyssey Marine.

The firm will retain 80% of the cargo’s value under the terms of a contract with the Department for Transport.

Only one person from the 85-strong crew survived the torpedo attack as the ageing steamer tried to reach Ireland.

The vessel was on its way back to Britain from India when it ran low on fuel in stormy weather, and tried to divert to Galway harbour, but it was spotted and sunk by the German submarine.

Three members of the crew survived in a lifeboat and reached the Cornish coast two weeks later, but two died trying to get ashore.

The wreck of the 412ft ship was found this summer nearly 4,700m below the North Atlantic, 300 miles off the Irish coast, but it was only confirmed as SS Gairsoppa last week.

Odyssey Marine’s senior project manager, Andrew Craig, said: “We’ve accomplished the first phase of this project – the location and identification of the target shipwreck.

“Now we’re hard at work planning for the recovery phase.

“Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be well suited for the recovery of this silver cargo.”

SS Gairsoppa settled upright on the seabed with its cargo holds open, which means remote-controlled robotic submarines should be able to retrieve the bullion.

The marine archaeology and exploration company said it was “highly unlikely” any human remains would be found, given the age and depth of the wreck.

Odyssey’s chief marine archaeologist Neil Dobson said: “Even though records indicate that the lifeboats were launched before the ship sank, sadly most of her crew did not survive the long journey to shore.

“By finding this shipwreck and telling the story of its loss, we pay tribute to the brave merchant sailors who lost their lives.”

The merchant ship belonged to the British India Steam Navigation Company, and was ordered into the merchant navy fleet at the outbreak of World War II.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The contract for the salvage of the SS Gairsoppa was awarded by competitive tender in accordance with government and departmental procedures.

“While we do not comment on the specifics of such commercial arrangements, Odyssey Marine Exploration were awarded the contract as they offered the best rate of return to HMG.”

For more information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15061868

The wreck that revealed the Mary Rose

From the BBC:

Few of the tourists who stand back to admire one London’s most famous landmarks, Nelson’s Column, would realise that its base is made from the salvaged remains of an unheralded 18th Century warship.

But the HMS Royal George can lay an even greater claim to posterity than providing the foundations of the world-famous statue in honour of perhaps the most celebrated naval hero in British history.

According to naval historian Dr John Bevan, the largely forgotten flagship, which sank in the Solent at Spithead in August 1782, helped divers to locate the wreckage of the Mary Rose in the 1830s – a full 150 years before the stricken vessel was raised from the seabed.

More than 900 people died when the Royal George sank, including 300 women and 60 children who were visiting the ship which was due to head for Gibraltar with HMS Victory.

‘Macabre reminder’

It was the biggest loss of life in British waters.

The 100-gun battleship had been heeled on to its side for repairs to be carried out on its sea cock – a valve on the hull – when it began to take in water though its open gun ports. It capsized and sank.

Few of the tourists who stand back to admire one London’s most famous landmarks, Nelson’s Column, would realise that its base is made from the salvaged remains of an unheralded 18th Century warship.

But the HMS Royal George can lay an even greater claim to posterity than providing the foundations of the world-famous statue in honour of perhaps the most celebrated naval hero in British history.

According to naval historian Dr John Bevan, the largely forgotten flagship, which sank in the Solent at Spithead in August 1782, helped divers to locate the wreckage of the Mary Rose in the 1830s – a full 150 years before the stricken vessel was raised from the seabed.

More than 900 people died when the Royal George sank, including 300 women and 60 children who were visiting the ship which was due to head for Gibraltar with HMS Victory.

‘Macabre reminder’

It was the biggest loss of life in British waters.

The 100-gun battleship had been heeled on to its side for repairs to be carried out on its sea cock – a valve on the hull – when it began to take in water though its open gun ports. It capsized and sank.

John Deane dived on the Mary Rose for about two years and brought up a 15ft section of the mast, bows and arrows, human remains and lots of cannon-balls, Dr Bevan said.

But as the Mary Rose was buried under a thick layer of clay, the dives were not very productive and John Deane abandoned them, said Dr Bevan.

Henry VIII’s famed flagship would remain under the water until historian and diver Alexander McKee began his search for wreckage in the Solent in the 1960s.

The Mary Rose, which sank on 19 July 1545 was finally brought to the surface on 11 October 1982 after 437 years submerged in the Solent.

Some parts of the Royal George were also salvaged, including several bronze cannon.

It was these which were melted down to form the base of Nelson’s column.

But, unlike the Mary Rose, there could be no 20th Century raising of the Royal George.

In 1840, the broken wreckage was destroyed by the Royal Engineers in a huge controlled explosion that shattered windows as far away as Portsmouth and Gosport.

For more information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-14691988

Poole 20 August 2011 – Switching wrecks, a bit of training and the compulsory BBQ

Early to rise, early to bed, makes a man healthy but socially dead – or so they say. Not however for the 12 brave divers who battled against the call of soft pillows and warm duvets while their alarm clocks were screaming at 04:00 on Saturday 20th August to get to Poole for the early slack.

We all raced down in the dark and when I got there, I was surprised to see Trevor (the skipper) was early for once and everyone was already loading up our boat, Rocket. We all looked somewhat bleary eyed and a little worse for wear considering the early hour. I felt as though I’d been pulled through a bush backwards (does anybody even know what that means anymore!?!).

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No 45: Midweek Dive

Dear All

I am running a midweek dive to Swanage on Wednesday 31 August 2011 on the Swanage Dive Charters boat “Mary Jo” which I hope some of you will be able to join me.

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Site last updated 5 November, 2018 @ 17:10