Search to commence for W WLI silver

This article is from page 8 of the 2010-02-23 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 8 JPG

THE largest treasure hunt ever to take place in the waters off County Clare will get underway this week as the search begins for more than €100 million worth of silver sunk during World War II.

Odyssey Marine Exploration was last week awarded the exclusive salvage contract for the cargo of SS Gairsoppa, which was sunk by a German U-boat in February of ee

The SS Gairsoppa was a British cargo steamer enlisted in the serv-

ice of the UK for the ministry of war transport during World War II. In February 1941 the steamer was on its way from India to Britain with a cargo of silver ingots, pig iron and tea when it began to run out of fuel off the coast of Ireland.

The steamer broke off from the convoy it was travelling in and made for Galway harbour where it could refuel. However, on February 17, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-101.

The steamer sank completely with- in 20 minutes. Of the 32 crew mem- bers who boarded lifeboats after the

attack, all died except for one sailor who made it ashore after 13 days at sea.

The exact location of the wreck is not known but it is believed to be around 200 miles off the Clare coast, at a depth of around 6,500 feet.

The UK Department for Transport last week awarded the salvage rights for the wreck to the American deep- ocean shipwreck exploration com- pany, Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Company CEO Greg Stemm last week said that by using modern search techniques they should be able to find the wreck in less than

three months.

“The shipwreck is lying in the deep ocean well within the range of current search and recovery ca- pabilities. We have good location information which suggests a search area that can be completed in ap- proximately 90 days,” he said.

The SS Gairsoppa, also known as the War Roebuck, was carrying 81 crew members and two gunners id sles Lect BO e

Of the entire crew, which was made up mostly of Scottish and Indian sailors, only one crewman – Gerald SAE TiCmen ea sa (cee

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