Underwater salvage company Deep Ocean Search has successfully salvaged the treasure ship SS City of Cairo. Found at a depth of more than 17,000 feet, the ill-fated World War II-era steamship was loaded with 100-tons of silver coins.
As reported by Taylor Zajonc at his blog, Expedition Writer, the ship was discovered by search and salvage veteran John Kingsford using the sonar and robotics systems found aboard the ship SV John Lethbridge.
"Conducted at 17,000+ feet, this project was groundbreaking, and may usher in a new era of deep sea operations," Zajonc told io9, adding that the recovery effort is the most substantial to ever take place at such an extreme depth.
The SS City of Cairo was sunk in 1942 by a German submarine during a trip from Bombay to England. The ship was loaded with 7,422 tons of general cargo, including pig iron, timber, wool, cotton, manganese ore — and 2,000 boxes of silver coins. The ship went down 480 miles (770 km) south of St. Helena after it was struck by a torpedo, taking its treasure with it. Remarkably, only six people were killed during the evacuation. Tragically, however, the lifeboats weren't rescued for nearly two weeks; of the 311 people aboard, 104 died.
The salvage operation was conducted at a depth of 5.1 km (3.2 miles). Under contract to the UK Ministry of Transport, Deep Ocean Search was authorized to recover several tens of tons of silver coins, setting a new world depth recovery record.
For comparison, Titanic rests at a depth of 12,500 feet (3,800 meters, or 3.8 km).
Much more at Expedition Writer, including harrowing accounts of the sinking and the trials of the passengers aboard the lifeboats.