In pictures: Mixing business with treasure
In DG #29 we snatched a glimpse into the world of high-stakes salvage operations, meeting deep-sea adventurers who seek their fortunes at the bottom of the oceans. How easy is it to strike it rich on the hunt for sunken treasure? It’s a race to the bottom…
There are three-and-a-half million shipwrecks mouldering on the ocean floor, as Will Carrier of the deep-water prospecting company Britannia’s Gold explained to us, and “the majority of the world’s gold reserves lie within a small portion of them”.
Carrier and his colleagues are currently targeting a number of ships lost during World War II that were known to be transporting gold bullion when they were sunk. As these images of a Britannia’s Gold recovery operation show, 21st-century salvage is a high-tech, industrial-scale undertaking requiring huge upfront investment.
It’s a risky business – but with the recovery conducted using remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), the peril is largely financial.
Searching vessels that are hundreds of metres long and made up of a warren of compartments and bulkheads, it is essential for the salvage crew to be armed with as much reliable information as possible. Here, they are using original shipbuilder’s plans as a reference to navigating their way around the wreck.
According to Britannia’s Gold chairman Philip Reid, his firm has located approximately £125 billion in sunken bullion in total, while an average cargo recovered from a shipwreck on their hit list should yield £100 million in gold.
No gold as yet, but they have found some slow journalism from the 1940s. Now that’s real treasure…
For the full, fascinating story of the salvage crews trawling the world’s seabeds for gold, see ‘Mixing business with treasure’ in DG #29.
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