Record dive rescues $50m wartime silver from ocean floor

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silver coins

The salvage operation recovered tens of tons of the silver coins from the seabed

A British-led team has recovered a $50m (£34m; €47m) trove of silver coins that has lain on the seabed since the steamship carrying them from Bombay to England was sunk in 1942.

The SS City of Cairo was torpedoed 772km (480 miles) south of St Helena by a German U-boat and sank to 5,150m.

The 100 tonnes of coins, recovered in the deepest salvage operation in history, belonged to HM Treasury. The silver rupees had been called in by London to help fund the war effort, but they never made it. The steamship’s tall plume of smoke was spotted by a U-boat on 6 November 1942 and it was torpedoed.

Ten minutes later, amid efforts to abandon ship, the City of Cairo was hit with a second torpedo which sealed its fate. The coins have now been melted down in the UK and sold, with the undisclosed sum divided between the treasury – which technically owns the coins – and the salvagers, who take a percentage of the sale.

The salvage was completed in September 2013, but DOS has only now been given permission by the Ministry of Transport to announce it. The propeller of the fatal torpedo was discovered sitting on its own on the ocean floor

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

The coins are silver rupees, called in from India to London during the war

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