SS City Of Cairo: $50 Million Treasure Recovered From WWII Shipwreck

Shipwreck

The SS City of Cairo came to rest on the bottom of the South Atlantic Ocean in 1942. Although the ship was carrying an estimated 2,000 chests filled with silver coins, the specific location of the wreckage remained a mystery. Nearly 75 years later, Deep Ocean Search announced that they have found the ship and recovered a significant portion of the coins.

Although SS City of Cairo was a passenger steamship, she was requisitioned to transport supplies to the United Kingdom during WWII. On October 1, 1942, the SS City of Cairo left Bombay, India, with 302 passengers and crew and an estimated 7,000 tons of cargo.

On November 6, the SS City of Cairo was struck by a torpedo — which was fired by a German submarine. Captain William A. Rogerson immediately ordered all passengers to abandon ship. Although a distress call was made, and acknowledged by the submarine’s commander, a second torpedo was fired 20 minutes later.

As reported by the SS City of Cairo website, the ship was heavily damaged in the attack. However, a vast majority of the passengers and crew made it off the ship and into the lifeboats.

With the exception of the German submarine commander, who was unwilling to help, nobody received Captain Rogerson’s distress call. As a result, the lifeboats drifted in the Atlantic Ocean for nearly two weeks.

Although three lifeboats were eventually spotted by a passing ship, and a fourth washed up on the shore of Spain, the others were never found. A total of 101 people lost their lives as a result of the SS City of Cairo tragedy.

Nearly 75 years later, Deep Ocean Search located the SS City of Cairo wreckage nearly 17,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Although they experienced “serious technical difficulties,” the salvage company managed to recover “several tens of tons of silver coins.” The team also found and recovered “the end section of the second torpedo.”

DOS also managed to break a world record. Although salvage work is performed in depths up to 13,000 feet, the SS City of Cairo wreckage was buried in the mud inside a deep canyon.

As reported by Reuters, the silver coins are estimated to be worth $50 million. Although a majority of the coins were returned to Britain’s Treasury, DOS was permitted to keep a percentage according to international marine salvage law.

DOS revealed that the SS City of Cairo was located in 2011, and the coins were recovered in 2013. However, they waited two years to make the announcement.

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