Deep-sea exploration crew recovers 61 tons of World War II silver

A team of American explorers recovered a World War II era treasure worth approximately $77 million from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The New York Daily News reports that the Odyssey Marine Exploration crew pulled 61 tons of silver from a shipwreck nearly three miles below the ocean surface and about 300 miles off the southwest Irish coast.

“After Mary Rose (King Henry VIII’s flagship), it is the most important of the historic shipwrecks,” archaeologist Sean Kingsley told the International Business Times.

The 2,972 silver bars, which weighed as much as 69 pounds individually, were found during two separate dives in 2012 and 2013, according to the International Business Times. Each bar is made from .999 pure silver .

The SS Gairsoppa had been carrying the silver in 1941 when it broke away from its protective escort. A German plane spotted the boat on its way to Galway Harbor and a U-boat torpedoed it.

Odyssey, which is based in Tampa, Fla., identified the ship in 2011. The Daily News said that Odyssey will receive an 80 percent cut of the proceeds when the silver is sold. The British government will receive the remaining 20 percent.

“The Today Show” reports that the UK’s Department of Transport plans to send the silver to the Royal Mint, which will soon be minting commemorative coins for the newborn prince.

“I don’t think anyone ever expected to see it again, and here it is,” the Department of Transport’s Robert Cousins said to ‘Today.’