Does it seem that the most valuable shipwrecks are results of wartime activity? How could such valuable material end up being transported during such dangerous times? There are reasons, of course. And in the case of the S.S. Port Nicholson, the reason was a payment from Russia to the US for war supplies.
However, the payment was ill-fated – as the Port Nicholson was torpedoed by a German U-boat just off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Russia eventually made up the payment, but the cargo was considered lost.
Treasure hunter Greg Brooks announced that he has definitively located the wreck and identified it according to the number printed on the side of the hull. According to documentation about the ship, the Port Nicholson was carrying about 71 tons of platinum ingots on board. That translates to about 1,707,000 troy ounces of platinum – worth more than a whopping $3 billion dollars in today’s platinum market. Back in 1942 – when the ship was sunk – the load was only worth approximately $53 million. On top of that, Brooks claims that the ship was also carrying gold bullion, diamonds, and copper.
But, there’s a catch – Brooks claims he is currently unable to retrieve any of the treasure. It’s too heavy for his scouting vessel to bring back. Further, there is skepticism about the find. Companies have allegedly found the wreck in the past and may have recovered some of the cargo. Therefore, the amount of platinum may be much less than 71 tons. Also, the Port Nicholson was a British merchant ship, carrying Russian cargo, off the coast of the US. If the treasure is successfully salvaged, it could set off a number of claim disputes.
In any case, it’s definitely among the largest treasure finds in our time. It will be interesting to watch this story unfold.