Bring home silver from sunken ship, CPI tells PM
NEW DELHI: After 71 years, about 43 tonnes of silver bullion hauled up from the wreckage of British merchant vessel, S S Gairsoppa, on the bed of North Atlantic has created a flutter in India, thanks to its Kolkata connection. The ship set sail from Kolkata, then Calcutta, in December, 1940, with a cargo of tea, iron and silver.
|Booty: Salvage workers inspect silver bars as they are |
recovered from the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa torpedoed
in a German U-boat attack 300 miles off the south-west
coast of Ireland
CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to demand the return of the retrieved silver to India, its "rightful owner".
In a letter to the PM on July 23, Reddy asked, "The silver that was recovered from the SS Gairsoppa was carrying the riches to England from India in 1941 when a Nazi torpedo struck. Hence how can Britain be the rightful owner?"
The British Indian Steam Navigation Co operated the Gairsoppa — the vessel was named after a stunning waterfall in Karnataka. The Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat about 300 miles off the coast of Ireland in 1941 when it was steaming home from Calcutta while in the service of the British ministry of war transport.
US salvage firm, Odyssey Marine Exploration, hauled up the silver from about three miles under water, lower than the Titanic's resting place. The firm claimed on July 18 that the salvage operation yielded "the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck" ever made.
"The amount of silver bars recovered so far represents approximately 43% of the insured silver bars, or approximately 20% of the total silver cargo which research has indicated may be on board," the Odyssey said in a statement. It will return to the wreckage for a fresh haul.
The CPI urged the PM to "intervene immediately by writing a strong letter demanding return of the hauled silver and also to raise the issue in appropriate international forums".
"Odyssey which claims to have invested its own money in finding the ship has no moral and legal authority to split the profits — 80% of the silver's value for itself and 20% for the British government," Reddy wrote.
In February, Odyssey had to return to Spain gold and silver coins worth about $500 million recovered from the wreckage of the Spanish vessel, Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, in 2007 off the coast of Portugal.
Source: Bring home silver from sunken ship, CPI tells PM - Times Of India