About 1,000 ounces of gold has been recovered from the sunken gold ship, the SS Central America. The steamship sank off the coast of South Carolina in 1857 while returning from San Francisco, California. Caught in a hurricane, the Central America floundered and sank, taking with it some 500 passengers and an estimated 30,000 pounds of gold. In 1988, an Ohio-based company, Columbus-America Discovery Group, found the shipwreck more than a mile underwater on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Some $100 million dollars worth of gold was recovered, including a gold ingot weighing 80 pounds that sold for $8 million dollars. However, the treasure led to a long series of court battles as some 39 insurance companies filed suits based on insurance policy claims they paid out at the time of the sinking. In 1996, the courts awarded the discovery group with most of the treasure. In March of this year, the Florida-based company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, was awarded the contract to recover the rest of the gold.

Sunken Gold Ship

The loss of the SS Central America stunned the nation and caused the financial event, the Panic of 1857. At the time, a one-ounce gold coin was worth $20, with 12 ounces making a pound. The cargo was worth about $7.2 million dollars back then. But with inflation, the current value of the Central America′s cargo is closer to half a billion dollars! That is just the ′melt-value′. Gold coins and ingots from such historic shipwrecks usually sell for much higher prices.

According to Odyssey Marine Exploration, the sunken gold ship, the SS Central America, remains undisturbed from its last viewing more than 25 years ago. Lying off the coast of South Carolina, work is underway as more more sunken gold is recovered. With advances in robotic submarines, the process for retrieving the remaining gold may not take too long.