A marine exploration company just signed an exclusive excavate-and-recover contract for the SS Central America (and the millions of dollars worth of gold on board). Zeus, Odyssey Marine Exploration’s deep-sea rover, visited the sunken "Ship of Gold" in mid-April—more than 7,000 feet down and 150 miles off the coast of South Carolina—for the first time in years.
On September 9, 1857, the SS Central America, a steamship carrying loot from the final years of the California Gold Rush, got caught in a category 2 hurricane on its way back from the Port of Colón, Panama. Winds of 105 mph beat the ship's sails for two days before a leak near one of its paddle wheels extinguished the boiler and the ship began to sink. Crew aboard the SS Central America flew its flag upside down (the universal distress signal), but the ship's wreckage was not found until 1988.
Between 1988 and 1991, five percent of the ship's gold was recovered. On April 15, Zeus pulled five gold bars and two gold coins (60 pounds) from the SS Central America.
The Odyssey Marine Exploration team is surveying the shipwreck now and plans to pull the remaining gold (estimated value: $250,000 to $2,000,000 circa 1857, according to Odyssey Marine Exploration) when Zeus fully documents the legend of the "Ship of Gold."