SS Central America Shipwreck Yields Gold Coins and Ingots

by Darrin Lee Unser on May 12, 2014 · 2 comments

A deep-sea reconnaissance dive undertaken by Odyssey Marine Exploration ( proved fruitful yet again with nearly 1,000 ounces of gold in coins and ingots.

5 Gold Ingots from SS Central America

Odyssey Marine Exploration photos of the 5 gold ingots recovered at the SS Central America shipwrecks site on April 14, 2015. Their weights ranged from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.

Included in the recovery were five gold ingots and two 19th century Coronet Head $20 Double Eagle coins, among other artifacts. The items were brought up from the ocean floor during Odyssey’s first reconnaissance dive to the SS Central America shipwreck site on April 15, 2014.

The SS Central America originally launched as the SS George Law in 1853. It was an 85-meter (280-foot) wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted side-wheel steamship that operated on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. It was caught in a hurricane and sank on Sept. 12, 1857 with a large amount of gold about 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina.

This is not the first deep-sea exercise of the shipwreck site. Initial Central America recovery operations were conducted between 1988 and 1991. In over 1,000 hours of underwater maneuvers, a significant amount of gold was recovered from about 5% of the shipwreck site.

Now, Odyssey has been brought in to continue the recovery. The two-hour initial exploration last month was undertaken by Odyssey’s research vessel, the Odyssey Explorer, as it was en route from the United Kingdom to Charleston, South Carolina.

The recent events follow ten years of litigation, after which it was ruled that Columbus-American Discovery Group LLC (CADG) owned 92.5% of the recovered gold. CADG is an agent for Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) whose receiver signed a contract with Odyssey for the operations. Aboard during the initial exploration were Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) director of operations Craig Mullen and RLP chief scientist/historian Bob Evans. Evans served as chief scientist, historian and later as curator for the initial Central America recovery operations conducted two decades ago.

The main goal of the initial exploration was to assess the current condition of the site.

"This dive confirms for me that the site has not been disturbed since 1991, when I was last there," said Bob Evans chief scientist/historian for RLP.

Odyssey will continue its operations on the SS Central America shipwreck site. Under the terms of the contract, Odyssey will receive 80% of recovery proceeds until a fixed mobilization fee and a negotiated day rate are paid. Following that, 45% of the recovery proceeds go to Odyssey.

For coin enthusiasts, the two gold coins included an 1857 $20 Double Eagle minted in San Francisco and one from 1850 minted in Philadelphia. The five gold ingots ranged in weight from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pirate May 15, 2014 at 10:45 am

From Meson Capital’s March report that fully and without question debunked the SS Central America:
After extensive analysis of the SS Central America and the seeded claims of a secret Army gold cache, I conclusively know that no secret cache exists.
1. I spoke with credible deep sea archaeology experts directly involved with the SS Central America case for over two decades and they universally dismissed the notion of a secret Army cache.
2. Tommy Thompson’s best friend and expedition ship mate stated without question: there was never a secret army treasure on board.
3. Multiple Judges and official court documents conclusively dismiss the possibility of a secret cache.
4. Direct source materials from 1857 we obtained also clearly prove there is no secret Army cache.
5. SS Central America estate’s own internal expert analysts show the SS Central America has no Army cache.
6. Eyewitness direct quotes from 1857 of Captain Herndon of SS Central America also clearly demonstrate there is no Army cache.
7. SS Central America tried to both raise their own money to excavate this treasure with their own crew directly experienced on the site and were not successful. They also explored selling the project outright with no success as well.
8. Even if there was anything of value left below, it would have been long ago stolen by other salvors the SS Central America estate knows have been going after the treasure while their insolvency has left the site defenseless and without oversight for over 5 years.
9. Even if an army gold cache existed, it would lead to a repeat of the “Black Swan” fiasco as there is no statute of limitations on government property under maritime law and the shipment would be forfeit like in the “Black Swan” case.
Tommy Thompson’s best friend and expedition ship mate stated without question: there was never a secret army treasure on board the SS Central America.

TheDrWho June 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm

“As for the site itself, there is one thing that I can tell you without any qualification – and that is that anyone who thought that the previous
operations twenty years ago recovered all the gold and valuables from the site was clearly mistaken. Nearly every day of seafloor operations
produces new discoveries and recoveries of gold in a dazzling array of different forms.
Early recovery results are well beyond our expectations. We’ve already recovered over $100,000 in 1857 face value of ingots and other gold
including rare natural nuggets, jewelry and a wide array of different coins. The collection we have recovered to date represents an amazing
cross section of the type of wealth that resulted from the California gold rush, and coupled with the excellent methodical archaeological work
our team is conducting, will contribute a great deal to the historical record.
Based on estimates provided by the independent expert hired by the court-appointed Receiver, this gold recovered to date represents a small
fraction of his best estimate of what remained on the site. Now that we’ve completed recovery of most of the gold and valuable artifacts on the
surface outside the hull structure, we’re starting on the excavation inside the hull itself. Ingots, gold nuggets, dust and coins have been coming
up from this new excavation area daily, so we are off to a great start on this project.”

Above from Odyssey Marine’s annual meeting this week. With a stunning volume of gold recovered in just the first few weeks we can hardly wait to see, and bid on, these rare coins and bars newly rescued from the deep.

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