Odyssey Marine Exploration plans to start recovering the remaining gold cargo, one of the largest documented cargos of gold ever lost at sea, from the SS Central America as soon as April.
The ‘Ship of Gold,’ as it was referred to in the best-selling book, "Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea," sank in 1857. It was discovered in 1987 approximately 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina and a little more than a mile below the ocean surface. Less than 5% of the site was explored at the time, and salvers recovered gold coins, bullion, and raw gold. Then long lengthy court battles ensued, leaving the shipwreck untouched for 20 years.
With the legal issues now resolved, Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed receiver who represents Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) and Columbus Exploration LLC (CE), contracted Odyssey to conduct the archaeological excavation and recovery.
"We are excited about returning to the SS Central America and welcome the opportunity to work with Odyssey Marine Exploration on this historic undertaking," stated Kane. "We are confident that Odyssey’s unparalleled experience, superbly qualified personnel and state-of-the-art equipment will build on the successes of the first recovery effort, which has been characterized as a story of American initiative, ingenuity and determination."
"After conducting an exhaustive review of the extensive amount of historical research available on the shipwreck, our experts estimate the shipwreck still holds a commercial shipment of gold that was valued at approximately $93,000 in 1857, as well as a substantial amount of passenger gold valued in 1857 between $250,000 and $1,280,000" added Kane. "The expert we retained to analyze the extensive collection of records and contemporary accounts of the shipwreck places the most likely 1857 face value of the total remaining passenger and commercial gold at $760,000. The ultimate value of the recovery can only be determined once the total quantity, quality and form of the recovered gold is known."
Thanks to research and images compiled by Odyssey as well as familiarity with mid-19th century paddlewheel shipwrecks, Mark Gordon, Odyssey’s president and chief operating officer, expects the project to move forward quickly. Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s CEO is also excited about the historic recovery effort. He is projecting a successful outcome based on similar archaeological excavations of the SS Republic ten years ago and more recently the SS Gairspoppa.