WJTV News Channel 12 - Tampa-based Odyssey Marine set to embark on new search for treas

Tampa-based Odyssey Marine set to embark on new search for treasure

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The Odyssey crew inspects the silver bars as they are recovered from the SS Gairsoppa site and  unloaded on deck of the Seabed Worker. In July 2013 from the site, which yielded 1,574 (60 tons) silver  ingots. Odyssey photo The Odyssey crew inspects the silver bars as they are recovered from the SS Gairsoppa site and unloaded on deck of the Seabed Worker. In July 2013 from the site, which yielded 1,574 (60 tons) silver ingots. Odyssey photo

Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration is on the hunt for new treasure.

Odyssey now has an exclusive contract to conduct an archaeological excavation and recover the remaining valuable cargo from the SS Central America shipwreck which is located 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina.

The Central America sank in 1857 and is believed to have been carrying one of the largest cargos of gold ever lost at sea.

The shipwreck has been embroiled in legal controversy since the 1990's.

Salvager Tommy Thompson was originally hired to recover gold from the SS Central America, but never produced gold that he claimed had been recovered from the wreck.

Historian Bob Evans was part of the original crew that found the wreck of the Central America and is now part of the Odyssey Team that will return to the ship.

"In our youth we hear about these stories of recovering treasure and to be there professionally to do it, is a childhood dream come true," said Evans.

Odyssey was then selected by Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed receiver who represents Recovery Limited Partnership, to go after any gold that remains on the ocean floor.

Odyssey plans to conduct an archaeological mapping of the shipwreck site and then begin recover of artifacts and gold that are associated with it.

Odyssey says the shipwreck site was discovered in 1987 at a depth of more than 7,000 feet and they believe only five percent of the wreck was investigated by the original salvage team.

"Our teams have been studying the extensive research and records of the earlier work accomplished on the site as well as research from our own archives," said Odyssey President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Gordon.

Gordon says the recovery of the wreck and the treasure are a unique opportunity for the Tampa based company.

"From a financial perspective, this could be a pretty significant payday for Odyssey's investors," said Gordon.

The SS Central America was carrying 477 passengers when it was lost in a hurricane in 1857.

Many of the passengers were miners and businessmen returning from the California gold rush.

It is believed that the ship carried a large quantity of rare $20 Double Eagle gold coins. "The SS Central America is one of the greatest shipwreck stories of all time," said Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm.

Odyssey Marine has recovered treasure from several shipwrecks, including the SS Republic in 2003 and the British cargo ship the SS Gairsoppa in 2010. Odyssey recovered more than 51,000 coins from the Republic and 61 tons of silver from the Gairsoppa.

Learn more about Odyssey Marine.

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