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Odyssey Marine Recovers 1,000 Ounces of SS Central America Gold

Latest dive reveals still more SS Central America gold….

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. announced Monday that it had recovered five gold ingots and two $20 double eagles (one, an 1850 struck in Philadelphia, the second, an 1857-S). The ingots were stamped with assayer’s marks and weights that range from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces. The initial dive is one of many expected to take place over the course of the next several weeks.

Returning to the SS Central America is Bob Evans, Chief Scientist and Historian for Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP). Evans served as chief scientist, historian, and later as curator for the initial Central America recovery operations conducted between 1988 and 1991.

The recovery was made during a two-hour reconnaissance dive conducted by the Odyssey Explorer. RLP has retained Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.’s services in this phase of excavation of the sunken “Ship of Gold”.

Representatives for Odyssey Marine say that the recovered gold was resting on surface of the wreckage and that no excavation was required for their removal. An archaeological survey of the locations of the recovered pieces is also being conducted at the site.

SSCA Double Eagle Coin 2014
One of two double eagles recovered during the initial dive

Of the early returns, Evans said, “This dive confirms for me that the site has not been disturbed since 1991, when I was last there.”

RLP director of operations Craig Mullen added, “The skill exhibited and results achieved during the initial reconnaissance dive reinforces our belief that the Odyssey team was the absolute best choice for this project.

In addition to the cargo recovery operation, we plan to collect deep-ocean biological samples for Dr. Timothy Shank, a deep-ocean biologist and head of the Molecular Ecology and Evolution Laboratory at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Our objective is to document and provide Dr. Shank with samples of species that have returned to the site since previous operations ended. Odyssey’s documentation capabilities will contribute significantly to scientific understanding of deep-ocean biological processes. This continues a history of supporting scientific research at the site.”

Odyssey was selected for the project by Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed receiver who represents Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) and Columbus Exploration LLC (CE). The contract has been approved by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio, which has given Mr. Kane responsibility with overseeing the recovery project.


About the SS Central America

sscentralamericaThe SS Central America was an 85-meter (280-foot) wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted side-wheel steamship launched in 1853 as the SS George Law.

Operating during the California Gold Rush era, the ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco, making 43 round trips between New York and Panama.

The Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina on September 12, 1857. When she was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.

The Columbus-America Discovery Group, acting as agent for RLP, confirmed the location of the Central America shipwreck site in September 1988 at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet). Recovery operations were conducted over a four-year period (1988-1991) and a large quantity of commercial gold was recovered from approximately 5% of the shipwreck site during more than 1,000 hours of bottom time.

Odyssey Marine Exploration has been awarded the exclusive contract to conduct an archaeological excavation and recover the remaining valuable cargo from the SS Central America shipwreck.


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  1. “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’s annual meeting this week. Can’t wait to see ( and bid on ) these new coins and bars they are recovering!


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