Deep sea hunt for $7.9 billion of sunken British gold after decades missing

Britannia’s Gold will launch a deep sea recovery operation in hopes of recovering nearly NZ$8 billion of missing gold.

Welcome to the treasure hunt of the century. In the deep waters off the Irish coast, there’s believed to be up to $8 billion in sunken British gold that has waited decades to be recovered. After 25 years of painstaking research, experts believe they know the final resting places of more than 700 British merchant ships that sank in WWI and WWII while carrying some £4.5 billion (NZ$7.9 billion) of gold. And the recovery organisers are offering the public a piece of the loot.

The gold was being shipped by the British government during the two wars to pay for weapons, food and other goods when the ships sank.  About 7500 merchant ships were sunk during the two wars – some torpedoed by Nazi warships during WWII specifically because of their precious cargo. But much of the valuable treasure may soon be back on dry land, with a recovery mission about to begin in waters west of Ireland.

Private recovery organiser Britannia’s Gold believes it knows the location of 700 ships with large amounts of gold and precious metals on board. Its first target is a “cluster” of three ships believed to have carried £750 million of gold when they sank, The Telegraph reports.

The recovery operation, using underwater vehicles and robotic tools, is set to cost £15 million. Britannia’s Gold chairman Philip Reid said the British government – which owned the ships’ cargo – would get a portion of any gold recovered, with the rest shared among investors and charities. Members of the public could also “win” a bar of gold, just by signing up to the group’s newsletter.

Britannia’s Gold said it would treat all of the wrecks with respect and avoid ships that were carrying evacuee children.

“As a mark of respect, a commemorative plaque will be placed at each shipwreck location upon completion of the team’s operations.”  – Stuff

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