Treasure hoard sunk by Nazis discovered by divers

Sarah Coles
The sunken hoard
The sunken hoard

A hoard of £34 million worth of silver coins has been discovered by a British-led team of treasure hunters. The coins had been on a steamship travelling from Bombay to England in 1942, when it was torpedoed by a Nazi U-Boat and sent to the bottom of the sea. Now divers have found it and salvaged the hoard - which was deeper in the ocean than treasure has ever been found before.

The 100 tons of rupees were being sent back to Britain by the UK Treasury when the SS City of Cairo was sunk - with the loss of 104 lives.

The team from exploratory company Deep Ocean Search set out to find it in 2011. The company said the position of the coins meant that finding them was particularly challenging. There was a discrepancy between where the U-Boat had recorded sinking the boat and where the ship's officers reported their last position, so they had a wide area to search.

In addition, the water depth exceeded 5,000m and featured ridges and canyons that meant the water depth varied between 5,100m and 5,500m; the weather, swell and currents were also said to be 'challenging' and the search site was 1,000 miles from the nearest land.

The team wasn't optimistic when their sonar found a small target, as it "didn't correspond to our expectations of what a wreck should look like at all." However, they dived and found it was in fact the ship. It had looked unusual because it had broken into two pieces, and parts of the ship had been buried under piles of mud several metres deep over the years.

They were then contracted by the UK Ministry of Transport to recover it. The treasure was eventually found 5150 metres beneath the sea - a world record depth for a treasure hoard.

The discovery was initially made in 2013, and the company left a plaque commemorating the find. They have only just made the story public.

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