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Author Topic: Divers recover $65m of silver coins from ship sunk by U-boat  (Read 741 times)

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Divers recover $65m of silver coins from ship sunk by U-boat
« on: April 16, 2015, 05:58:31 AM »
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/divers-recover-dollar65m-of-silver-coins-from-ship-sunk-by-u-boat/ar-AAb4I8k



© Getty Images A German submarine during the second world war. The SS City of Cairo was torpedoed by a U-boat while bringing 100 tonnes of silver coins to England. 






Divers recover $65m of silver coins from ship sunk by U-boat


The Guardian
Rebecca Ratcliffe
7 hrs ago


A British-led team has set the record for the deepest salvage operation in history after recovering coins worth $65 million from the wreck of a British steamship that was sunk in 1942.

The salvage team recovered the silver coins from the SS City of Cairo, which was sunk by a German submarine in November 1942, en route from Bombay to England. The ship was carrying 100 tonnes of silver coins, which belonged to the Treasury and had been called in by London to help fund the war effort.

The ship sank to 5,150m after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat 480 miles south of St Helena. It was presumed lost until 2011, when salvage experts Deep Ocean Search began looking for the wreck under a contract with the UK government.

The team, led by Briton John Kingsford, made the unlikely discovery after spotting an unnatural object among a hillside. “The ship was broken in two and buried deep in the seafloor silt,” according to the team, who said they were reluctant to investigate the object because they initially thought it was the wrong size. “Parts of the ship had meters of mud heaped upon it, which goes some way in explaining the lack of height and of reflectivity.”

The team recovered tens of tons of silver coins from the ship, which was at a depth of 5,150 metres (17,000 feet) – a world record.

Working at this depth presented several difficulties, the team said. “The combination of pressure, temperature, repeated dives at this depth and other issues resulted in multiple breakdowns of systems such as we had not experienced before when working in 3,000- to 4,000-metre depths.”

The coins have been melted down in the UK and sold, with the undisclosed sum divided between the Treasury and the salvagers.

The salvage was completed in September 2013, but Deep Ocean Search has onlyThe salvage was completed in September 2013, but Deep Ocean Search has only now been given permission by the Department for Transport to announce it.

The City of Cairo had been carrying 311 passengers, though all but six managed to survive the attack. A German submarine struck the ship with one torpedo, but waited 10 minutes before inflicting a second, allowing passengers and crew time to escape on to lifeboats.

Karl-Freidrich Merten, the captain of the U-boat, directed them to the nearest land and said: “Goodnight. Sorry for sinking you.”

But it was three weeks before the lifeboats were found, during which time 104 of the 305 survivors died.

After leaving the wreck for the final time, the divers left a plaque in honour of those who died which read: “We came here with respect.”

As well as the coins, the team brought up the propeller belonging to the second, fatal torpedo.

“It was a special salvage,” Kingsford told the BBC. “It does mean a lot … It was a very emotive case, where over a hundred people were lost having been in open boats.

“It meant a lot to our team to find this ship and remember it.”




 


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