In what is believed to be one of the largest finds during a salvage operation, nearly $40 million worth of silver was discovered off the coast of Ireland.
Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., a British salvage company, has stated that it has brought up 43.5 tons of silver from the remnants of the SS Gairsoppa, a cargo ship that sunk during the Second World War.
More than 1,200 silver bars, worth about $38 million under current market prices, was recovered from the Gairsoppa, a British merchant ship that was attacked by a German U-boat in February 1941.
Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. was able to recover the sunken treasure after it won a contract with the U.K. government. As part of the agreement the salvage company will be able to retain 80 percent of the net value of the silver bullion recovered.
The Gairsoppa was owned by the British India Steamship Navigation Company and had been active in the commercial shipping industry, moving valuable cargo through the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
"Sources, including Lloyd's Record of War Losses, indicate a cargo of silver worth £600,000 at the time, which would equate to approximately seven million total ounces of silver," the company wrote on its website.
As of Wednesday, the salvage crew had recovered about 1.4 million troy ounces of silver from the Gairsoppa, with the company hopeful they would be able to recover the rest within three months.
The shipwreck is about 300 miles off the coast of Ireland and is in international waters. It is nestled on the bottom of the ocean floor nearly three miles down.
"Our success on the Gairsoppa marks the beginning of a new paradigm for Odyssey in which we expect modern shipwreck projects will complement our archaeological shipwreck excavations," Greg Stemm, Odyssey chief executive officer, said in a statement.