Treasure Hauled from SS Central America Shipwreck

By Eric Haun
Friday, July 18, 2014
Gold coins and a gold box lie in situ on the site of another shipwreck (Black Swan) site salvaged by Odyssey Marine Exploration (Photo courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration)

Odyssey Recovers Over 13,500 Silver and Gold Coins as Well as Gold Ingots, Dust, Nuggets and Jewelry From SS Central America Shipwreck; Newly Released Inventory Provides First Look at Time Capsule of Gold Rush-Era Treasures

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. has placed operational reports and inventories of items recovered from the SS Central America shipwreck site on the company's website at shipwreck.net/ssca.php. These items were initially filed under seal in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division. Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith has allowed the reports to be unsealed and made available to the public.

Odyssey has been working since April 2014 under contract to Ira Owen Kane, the receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP). RLP is the court-appointed salvor-in-possession of the SS Central America shipwreck.

"This is an iconic American shipwreck, and, as salvor-in-possession, we have a duty to not only recover the remaining valuable cargo and significant items of cultural heritage at the site, but to also share what we learn with the public," said Kane. "We're proud of the recovery and scientific work being accomplished on the site. Making the reports, filed with the court, accessible is the first step in allowing the public access to the shipwreck and the heroic stories of her Captain and those who sailed on her final voyage. We continue to engage in a number of fascinating science initiatives, the results of which will be shared with the public and scientific community when complete."

The inventories detail the items recovered to date, which include gold ingots, nuggets, dust and a wide variety of gold coins from $20 double eagles down through $10, $5, $2.50 and $1 gold coins, as well as California fractional gold, territorials and a wide variety of foreign gold. Additional significant cultural heritage artifacts have been identified and will be recovered.

RLP's chief scientist Bob Evans served as chief scientist on the 1988-1991 expeditions to the SS Central America and later as curator for the treasure recovered. As one of RLP's representatives on the project, Evans has been aboard the Odyssey Explorer since operations began in April 2014, cataloguing the gold as it is recovered.

"The variety and quality of the coins being recovered is just astonishing," commented Evans. "Of course there are spectacular $20 double eagles like we found back in the 80s and 90s. But the wide variety of other denominations makes this year's recoveries very different from the earlier finds. I have seen what I believe are several of the finest known examples so far. The coins date from 1823 to 1857 and represent a wonderful diversity of denominations and mints, a time capsule of virtually all the coins that were used in 1857."

Odyssey President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Gordon added: "The operational reports filed with the court provide an overview of the activities conducted during each offshore period. The first two reports detail the pre-disturbance work and the recovery of items visible on the surface in the debris field, as well as initial archaeological excavation activities in the stern area of the shipwreck itself. The next report, which will be filed before July 25, will cover work conducted from mid-June to mid-July. As planned, during this period we made significant progress removing large amounts of coal and overburden to access certain areas of the shipwreck. We're looking forward to getting back to work at the site in the coming days."

The 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 location of the SS Central America shipwreck was confirmed 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.

In 2014, Recovery Limited Partnership, to awarded Odyssey the exclusive contract to conduct an archaeological excavation and recovery of the remaining valuable cargo from the SS Central America shipwreck. Odyssey will receive 80% of recovery proceeds until a fixed fee and a negotiated day rate are paid. Thereafter, Odyssey will receive 45% of the recovery proceeds.

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 was approved by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio, which has given Mr. Kane responsibility with overseeing the recovery project The United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia has confirmed RLP as the salvor in possession of the SS Central America shipwreck and that Odyssey may conduct operations at the site on behalf of RLP.

Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP) was organized in 1985 as an Ohio limited partnership to finance the SS Central America project. Ira Owen Kane was appointed as the receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership and Columbus Exploration LLC by the Common Pleas Court of Franklin County, Ohio. At the direction of the court, the goal of the receiver is to preserve and operate the business of RLP and Columbus Exploration for the benefit of the investors and their creditors, and to do so by initiating the operations necessary to recover valuable cargo and cultural heritage items that remain on the SS CentralAmerica shipwreck site.

odysseymarine.com
 

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Salvage

Sunken WWII Landing Craft Refloated

LCT 7074, the last known landing craft to survive the D-Day invasion in 1944, has been refloated as part of a project to lift and save the vessel which began in March 2014,

How Difficult is it to Obtain a Jones Act Waiver?

The American Salvage Association’s Jon Waldron provides the ultimate cabotage primer. There always seems to be constant chatter about waiving the Jones Act. In reality,

Italy Region, Island Seek $274m in Concordia Damages

Officials for Italy's Tuscany region and the island of Giglio said on Monday they would seek a total of 220 million euros ($274 million) in damages from Costa Cruises,

Casualties

USCG Medevacs Man From Sailboat off NC Coast

The Coast Guard medevaced an injured 62-year-old man from his sailboat Thursday approximately 100 miles east of Kill Devil Hills. Watchstanders at the Fifth

High Seas Becoming Less Secure

Despite the significant reduction in piracy attacks over the last few years it is now widely accepted by the maritime community that the safety of the High Seas

Kleven Wins New Yacht Contract

Norwegian ship builder Kleven has secured a new contract for a high specification, 116-metre long Expedition Support Vessel. The order is placed by Mr Graeme Hart,

News

EU Regs on Ship CO2 Reporting Complicates IMO Agreement

ICS Concerned that EU will Preempt IMO CO2 Negotiations.   The global trade association for shipowners – the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – is disappointed

World’s Largest Boxship is DNV GL classed

CSCL Globe, the world’s largest containership and the first of a series of five 19,100 TEU containerships ordered by China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) in 2013,

New Players in Singapore Markets in OW's Absence

The downfall of a leading marine fuel supplier that prompted sellers to tighten credit terms in Singapore is skewing the post-OW Bunker jostle for market share

Subsea Salvage

Sunken WWII Landing Craft Refloated

LCT 7074, the last known landing craft to survive the D-Day invasion in 1944, has been refloated as part of a project to lift and save the vessel which began in March 2014,

Reach Bags Technip ROV Work

Reach Subsea has secured a deal worth up to $10.3 million with Technip to provide remote-operated vehicle services on a newbuild subsea construction vessel to be supplied by Eidesvik Offshore.

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1001 sec (10 req/sec)