Cameras were rolling for a Discovery Channel special when a marine research team discovered a wartime haul of 48 tons of silver bullion buried beneath the sea – a moment that will be broadcast on the U.S. net next year.
A team from Odyssey Marine Exploration successfully recovered the historic bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British merchant cargo ship that sank in February 1941 after being torpedoed by a German U-boat during World War Two.
The haul totals 1,203 silver bars, or approximately 1.4 million troy ounces of silver, and was found three miles beneath the North Atlantic. Discovery and Odyssey have not put a value on the bullion, but several news reports cite its value at around US$38 million, based on current silver prices.
The moment of discovery will be shown during an as-yet-untitled TV special that will air in the first quarter of 2013, according to the U.S. network.
Details of the prodco working on the special have yet to be revealed. (update: Discovery now says JWM Productions is making the special, and British broadcaster Channel 5 says it will air the special in the UK)
“We congratulate the Odyssey team on this amazing achievement and can’t wait to see the whole story,” said Eileen O’Neill, group president of Discovery and TLC Networks.
“Whether it’s the search for the remains of Amelia Earhart in the South Pacific or the quest to explore the universe with our brand new Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona, Discovery is more than our name, it’s what we put into action from land, sea and sky.”
Odyssey is conducting the Gairsoppa project under contract with the UK Department for Transport.
Under the terms of the agreement – which follows standard commercial practices – Odyssey should get to keep 80% of the Gairsoppa silver cargo after recovering its expenses. The contract was awarded to Odyssey following a competitive tender process.