Nearly 1,000 ounces of gold were recovered from the first diving expedition to the Ship of Gold, the legendary 150-year-old shipwreck that may hold millions in buried treasure.
Among the excavated pieces were five gold ingots and two $20 Double Eagle coins, according to Odyssey Marine Exploration, which carried out the exploration. The gold ingots weigh from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.
The SS Central America was nicknamed the Ship of Gold, because it carried one of the largest cargoes of gold ever lost at sea, mostly in the form of ingots and $20 Double Eagle coins. The 280-ft. steamship sank on Sept. 12, 1857, 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina, during a hurricane. More than 550 people died. The huge amount of gold lost in the accident—believed to have been worth more than $1 million in 1857—shook public confidence in the economy, contributing to that year’s financial panic.
The shipwreck site was discovered in 1987 and was the subject of explorations from 1988 to 1991, but the first recovery company went bankrupt, leading to a series of legal battles that were finally settled this year. Less than 5 percent of the site was believed to have been explored at that time.
The dive was conducted with the help of a remotely operated robotic device that prowls the ocean floor.
Bob Evans, chief scientist and historian for the first company, the Recovery Limited Partnership, said in a statement, “The dive confirms for me that the site has not been disturbed since 1991, when I was last there.”