SS Gairsoppa (originally ordered as the SS War Roebuck) was operated by the British India Steam Navigation Company during World War II. En route to London from Calcutta, India, the SS Gairsoppa broke away from its convoy due to lack of fuel and just after midnight on February 17, 1941, she was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-101. West Tampa News reports on the discovery of the wreckage of the SS Gairsoppa in the North Atlantic by Odyssey Marine Exploration and the cargo of silver still in its hold.
It was 1941 during World War II. The SS Gairsoppa, a British merchant ship on its way to Great Britain from India was traveling through the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic.
The ship was running low on fuel and was forced to slow down and separate from the rest of its fleet when it came under attack by a German U-Boat. War records show a single torpedo hit the massive ship, causing it to sink 300 miles off the coast of Ireland.
Only one of the ship’s 85 crewmembers survived. Everything else, sank to the bottom of the deep Atlantic, including 1,700 tons of tea and 7-million ounces of silver.
For 70 years the ship has rested, mostly intact, three miles below the ocean’s surface. The German U-Boat that sank the vessel kept amazingly accurate records on where the ship went down, but until now, there was never the technology to travel that deep into the ocean to find the actual wreckage.
That’s where Tampa based Odyssey Marine Exploration comes in. The company which began researching the sunken ship in 2009 entered into an agreement with the British Government to recover the ship’s cargo. In exchange, Odyssey would get to keep 80 percent of whatever valuables were found in the wreckage.
Last month, a salvage vessel set off for the wreckage site in the Atlantic. After around 20 days of using side scan sonar to search the ocean floor below, an irregularity was found near the kill site recorded by the Germans. Unmanned submarines were sent deep into the water below, and suddenly images of the SS Gairsoppa appeared on video monitors three miles up.