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Salvagers recover last silver from sunk UK ship

This July 5, 2012 handout image provided by Odyssey Marine Exploration on July 23, 2013, shows silver bullion
This July 5, 2012 handout image provided by Odyssey Marine Exploration on July 23, 2013, shows silver bullion being recovered with robotics from the shipwreck SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank off the coast of Florida in F

A US marine salvage firm says it now has recovered virtually all of the silver bullion carried in a British cargo ship that was sunk by a German U-boat off Ireland in World War II.

In a statement Tuesday on its website, Odyssey Marine Exploration said it had pulled up 1,574 silver ingots from the SS Gairsoppa this year, or 61 tons.

That is in addition to 1,218 ingots recovered last year.

Under a contract with Britain's Department of Transport, publicly listed Odyssey will retain 80 percent of the net salved value of the cargo.

Silver bullion from the shipwreck SS Gairsoppa that sank off the coast of Florida in February 1941
This July 5, 2012 handout image provided by Odyssey Marine Exploration on July 23, 2013, shows silver bullion from the shipwreck SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank off the coast of Florida in February 1941.

The Gairsoppa, loaded with silver, pig iron and tea, was en route to England from India when it was sunk by a German U-boat in Feburary 1941. Most of its crew was lost.

"This was an extremely complex recovery which was complicated by the sheer size and structure of the SS Gairsoppa as well as its depth nearly three miles (4,800 meters) below the surface of the North Atlantic," said Greg Stemm, Odyssey's chief executive officer.

"To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access," he added.

Despite indications from Lloyd's record of war losses and other sources, Odyssey said it found no sign of any additional uninsured silver on the vessel.

With no more silver to be found inside the Gairsoppa, Odyssey said its salvage vessel Seabed Worker would focus its efforts on the SS Mantola, another British ship, lost in 1917 with a reported 600,000 troy ounces of insured silver on board.

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