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By Sarah Sharkey
There is currently a real life treasure hunt happening. Britannia’s Gold is searching for sunken wartime gold off the coast of Ireland. After 25 years of research into countless documents and interviews, investigators believe they have discovered the resting place of over 700 ships. These ships are thought to hold at least £4.5 billion of gold.
During the First and Second World Wars, British ships carrying gold were sunk by enemy vessels. The ships were carrying the expensive treasures that funded the war, so this was done to reduce the ability of the British to buy ammunition and goods. Enemies that sunk the ships planned to return and retrieve the gold after winning the war.
It has still not been recovered… BUT that is about to change.
A £15 million operation is set to launch off the coast of Ireland to recover this treasure hoard. The team will use “state-of-the-art Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles and other robotic tooling systems” to claim this gold and bring it topside. The first target is a grouping of three ships: two from World War I and one from World War II. These three ships are expected to contain £750 million.
Britannia’s Gold has a large amount of data available to them and plans to fully utilize this information. For example, they will not be touching any ships that are considered war graves. This includes the SS City of Benares, which was torpedoed in World War II and resulted in the deaths of 77 evacuated children. Any wrecks that carried evacuee children will be avoided. In addition, a commemorative plaque will be placed at the site of each wreck that the team salvages at the end of operations as a mark of respect.
The chairman of the expedition, Philip Reid, says that the first portion of recovered cargo will go to the British government because it was originally their gold. The remaining finds will be split among investors. They expect quite a heavy haul of gold, so everyone will get their fair share to the treasure.