Odyssey Marine Exploration, a world-class team of archaeological researchers, experienced recovery personnel, management, and technical people, made a huge splash today with their announcement of having pulled a whopping 61 tons of silver bullion out of the sea this month, recovering the impressive cache from a wreck some three miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
This incredible haul of some 1,574 ingots (1.8M ounces) from the remains of the WWII-era SS Gairsoppa, a British cargo vessel sunk by a German U-boat back in 1941, is a new record for deep-ocean precious metal salvage and spells a real endorsement for the deep-ocean salvage industry's future, as well as OMEX's pioneering activities in the sector. Today's announcement by the Tampa-based recovery experts brings their tally up to nearly all of the insured silver that went down with the Gairsoppa, a total of 2,792 ingots counting what was pulled up back in 2012.
At today's clearly suppressed silver price of around $20 an ounce, this haul also gives one pause over the considerable appreciation of the largely industry-consumed metal, only worth around $1.1M in total when it went down. The cache of ingots is today worth roughly $63.8M. Indeed, this effort starts one thinking about the vast wealth of unrecovered insured and uninsured assets like precious metals in the world's oceans, thinking which could easily stray to other commodities like rare earths and even base metals.
CEO of OMEX, Greg Stemm, underscored the complexity of the extremely deep water operation, complicated further by the sheer size of the massive vessel and tiny, secured compartment which held the insured silver. Stemm personally named Senior Project Managers, Andrew Craig and Ernie Tapanes, as being key to the success of this operation and with 99% of the insured silver recovered by OMEX's highly-skilled and ingenious offshore team, it now seems possible that with such an assemblage of experts, more highly successful deep-ocean recovery operations like this are in the near future.
Stemm even hinted at how this latest effort by the company opens up the parameters for broader deep-ocean mineral exploration and the recovery of important cultural heritage materials, the latter of which leans heavily on precisely the kind of best-in-class archaeological work that can be done by the company's team, who knows how to read the deep-ocean targets properly, and also has the tools/experience to get the job done. The company ran this effort from their Seabed Worker, a 291-foot recovery vessel specially equipped by OMEX with deep-ocean hardware and ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) rated down to 5k meters. With the metal now safely stored at a secure UK facility, the Seabed Worker has returned to work investigating the 2011 discovery by OMEX of the 450-foot SS Mantola, as part of the company's 2013 North Atlantic Expedition.
The Mantola reportedly went down with some 600k UK War Risk program-insured troy ounces of silver onboard and with the exceptional profitability on the Gairsoppa awarded via the company's contract with the UK Department for Transport, a standard commercial 80% of net cargo value to look forward to, you can bet all hands on the Seabed Worker are eager to get back in the water.
President and COO of OMEX, Mark Gordon, hailed the exceptional performance by the company's team and assured investors that they have the unique tools and talent required to continue pioneering new horizons in the deep-ocean exploration and recovery game.
For more info on Odyssey Marine Exploration, visit www.Shipwreck.net
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