Earlier, we wrote a post that detailed the finding of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck which contained 219 tons of silver – one of the largest sunken treasures in history. Shortly after the Gairsoppa was found, another silver-bearing shipwreck was discovered: the SS Mantola. The history and discovery of the two wrecks have some truly remarkable similarities.
For starters, Odyssey Marine Explorations – the company that discovered the Gairsoppa, discovered the Mantola as a result of their Gairsoppa expedition. Both ships were discovered in the North Atlantic ocean near the coast of Ireland, both were owned and operated by the British-India Steam Navigation Company, both sunk as a result of wartime tensions, and both were making their way from India to England with vast cargos of silver – 219 tons for the Garisoppa and about 19 tons for the Mantola.
Despite so many correlations between the two finds, there are some notable differences in the histories of the two ships. The SS Mantola had a very short service life – it was launched in March 1916 but sank in February the following year. Still, it earned a tough reputation when it survived running into a sea-mine while on one of its cargo runs. However, it proved no match for a torpedo. Right after repairs from the mine were completed, the Mantola set out on its fateful voyage and was torpedoed by a German U-boat while returning from India – just like the Gairsoppa (the difference being the Mantola was sunk during World War I, not World War II). The Mantola nearly pulled through when a rescue operation went into place to tow the ship back to England. Unfortunately, the lines parted and the Mantola was lost to the sea.
At modern silver prices, the Mantola’s silver cargo is worth approximately $19 million. The British government has a deal with Odyssey to split the value of the silver, with Odyssey retaining 80% of the find – the same deal they have for the Gairsoppa’s treasure. What a coincidence!