It won’t be long before work is underway to haul up a veritable fortune in treasure from a shipwreck which has spent almost 150 years on the sea floor.
Back in the days of 1875 a wooden-hulled steamship named the SS Pacific departed from Victoria, Canada and set sail for San Francisco with around 300 people on board.
It never reached its destination as the Pacific collided with another ship, the Orpheus, and according to the only two people who survived the sinking of their ship it broke in two and disappeared beneath the waves about an hour later.
Among the ship’s supposed cargo that went down with the Pacific was a haul of gold worth around $8 million (£6.3 million) in today’s money.
The discovery of the shipwreck was announced in 2022, and it won’t be long before teams are sent down to try and recover the sunken treasure.
That’s because a group named Rockfish has been awarded exclusive salvage rights and their general manager Ethan Benson explained how they fought off the competition to dive down for the gold.
He said: “There were a few claimants. Over the past year we have had a number of conversations with the underwriters of the original cargo.
“About seven weeks ago we came to an agreement with them covering their insured portion of the cargo.
“We still have one outstanding claimant that we do not believe has a valid claim but we are working through the process with them.
“When successful, as with the underwriters, claimants receive a percentage of their valid claim and the rest goes to the salvor as a salvage award, which is generally quite large.”
Remote operated vehicles (ROVs) will be sent down to the shipwreck this year for the first step of recovering artefacts from the vessel and potentially recovering the gold.
Just how valuable the gold down there might be is unknown but Benson said ‘we believe it will be worth everyone’s time’.
Artefacts from the shipwreck of one of the worst maritime disasters in US history may end up going into a museum.
The ship was captained by a man named Jefferson Davis Howell, a former Confederate officer and the brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America that lost the American Civil War.
If you’re wondering what happened to the Orpheus after it was struck by the Pacific, it was able to sail on but was wrecked later that night but her crew were able to survive.