Sunken Riches Revealed: 20 Tons of Gold and the Untold Saga of a Deep-Sea Shipwreck with 426 Souls

It took 130 years for explorers to find a treasure that could attract both archaeologists and divers, searching for treasures around the world…

In 1988, treasure hunter Tommy Thompson and his colleagues found the famous “Golden Ship” named SS Central America, which had sunk to the bottom of the sea 130 years earlier.

The shipwreck is likened to the Titanic tragedy

ss Central America, 85m long, operated in Central America and the east coast of the United States in the 1850s. It was used a lot on the journey from New York to San Francisco, becoming America’s “California gold rush” at that time. then.

On September 3, 1857, 476 passengers and 102 sailors on the ship left the port of Colon in Panama for New York City.

Five days later, the ship encountered a terrible storm and sank off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Passengers and crew struggled non-stop for 30 hours to keep the ship going through the waves, but the engines were flooded, and strong winds tore off the sails and broke the masts.

The ship encountered a terrible storm and sank off the coast of North Carolina

Finally unable to withstand the power of the storm, on the evening of September 12, the ship had to resign, carrying 426 passengers and a mountain of treasure worth 150 million USD (nearly 4,000 billion VND) forever sinking into the deep sea. .

The sinking of the SS Central America was later compared to the Titanic tragedy of that time. The loss of gold was so great that it was one of the factors that caused the financial crisis known as the “Panic of 1857” and the economic depression that lasted for three years. New York banks at that time waited in vain for the gold to arrive.

Priceless treasure

All efforts to find the huge amount of gold failed, until the end of the summer of 1988, when the Columbus-America Group (CAG) expedition team, led by Tommy Thompson, located the shipwreck 2,400 meters below the seabed. .

The Columbus-America Group (CAG) expedition team, led by Tommy Thompson, located the wreck 2,400 meters below the seabed.

Because the water was too deep, a remote-controlled robot vehicle was sent down to search. Although this was not common technology at that time, it helped collect enough evidence to verify that this was the SS Central America.

During his expedition, Thompson salvaged thousands of gold bars, coins, and valuable artifacts. The Thompson group sold it for about 50 million USD (more than 1,100 billion VND).

Among this treasure, there is a gold bar weighing up to 80 pounds (over 36 kg) – one of the largest gold bars ever discovered in the world and hundreds of ancient coins. Many ancient coins are sold for 10,000 USD (227 million VND) each.

Bob Evans and the largest gold bar from the shipwreck, weighing over 36kg

Thompson once described the moment he first saw the treasure in a book: “None of us thought things would be this extraordinary. Part of America’s heritage, this is history hidden as a national treasure. And we found it.”

Happy days are too short

However, Thompson’s joy did not last long. Up to 39 insurance companies sued Thompson, claiming that this gold was insured by them and therefore belonged to them.

After the insurance companies, it was the investors’ turn to sue Thompson.

Salvage was suspended while the legal dispute was resolved.

Ommy Thompson (right) talks with Bob Evans when the Arctic Discoverer departs from Norfolk on June 18, 1991 to search for treasure.

During this time, the court assigned the search and exploitation of treasure to a new organization – Odyssey Marine Exploration.

In January 2015, Thompson was detained on charges of defrauding investors while staying in a hotel in Florida.

Thompson said that he never shared the money from selling gold coins with the search team and investors. He said this money was spent on legal activities and bank loans.

The rest of the treasure remains at the bottom of the sea later

Thompson did not “reveal” where the mined gold was hidden until June 2017, so he is still being held by the US government.

Thompson remained silent and did not reveal the treasure’s location, so it still lies somewhere at the bottom of the deep sea…

The American ocean exploration company Odyssey is licensed to continue operating the SS Central America ship. During the first search in April 2015, a group of divers retrieved 5 gold bars and two gold coins from the shipwreck.

To date they have collected more than 15,500 gold and silver coins and 45 gold bars. They also found gold jewelry and many antiques from the 19th century such as glass containers, cigarettes…

The ship is too deep for humans to dive, but this will not prevent salvage operations. Odyssey also uses an 8-ton remote-controlled vehicle named Zeus to scan the ocean floor.

“The SS Central America is one of the greatest shipwreck stories of all time,” Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm told Fox News.

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