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New Read here story of the greatest gold salvage from a sunken vessel in history.
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Layrentic diving montage by Leigh Bishop
White Star Lines RMS Laurentic...
Feature & Photographs by Leigh Bishop additional images courtesy Antonello Paone
Online article | Wreck Images | Diving History

White starline's RMS Laurentic had been sunk off Lough Swilly in the far north of Ireland and had been carrying 35 tons of Gold ingots stowed in its second class baggage room, worth at the time a staggering 5 million sterling the equivalent today of in excess of 250 million. The 14,892-ton liner had been built in 1908 by the famous shipbuilders of Belfast Harland & Wolf for the white star lines transatlantic crossings. Requisitioned by the admiralty as a troop carrier and then a year later converted to an auxiliary armed cruiser .Today her amendment can clearly been seen by those divers making the dive
down into the Irish waters where she's lies. It was in the very last manifestation when she set out from Liverpool on 23rd January 1917 bound for Halifax Canada that would bring so much attention to the ship in later years that followed. The delivery of the 5 million would be to pay for munitions

although that secret cargo would never arrive to its destination. After a brief stop at Lough Swilly on the 25th January Laurentic ran into a minefield laid only a few days previous by the German Submarine U-80. Accounts of the event vary as to the true loss of life however of the 722 men aboard it is said that almost half were either drowned or died of the bitter exposure of the january weather. With such a colossal amount of government revenue lost it was not long before the wreck was located and an extraordinary salvage attempt began. During the same month of her loss Lieutenant - commander G.C.C. Damant was summoned to an urgent meeting with the admiralty and was given the
Laurentic by Antonello Paone
Laurentics bow task of recovering the lost gold. Selected as a man with a reputation as an experienced and efficient naval diver and somebody whom had carried out a string of successful and dangerous operations. By September 1917 Damant and his team of divers working in twenty three fathoms had recovered £800,000 worth of gold rom the wreck. Little did Damant realise when he met at the admiralty offices that he was about to

begin a seven year salvage epic to recover the gold. Still to this day the quantity of gold that was recovered from the wreck stands as the greatest amount ever recovered from a sunken shipwreck. Damants salvage is well documented and the story of the recovery appears in almost every treasure book ever published. Laurentic rests in a depth of 120ft of water and makes for an excellent dive for all levels of diver, the on line article attached to these pages emphasis on diving Laurentic. Clicking on the wreck images will guide you through a series of images of the wreck as she was between 2001-2003, images taken by Leigh Bishop his Italian fellow photographer & friend Antonello Paone. Today the wreck is owned by a Mr Ray Cossum and permission must be sort before diving, the book 'We own Laurentic' by Jack Scoltock & Ray Cossum (ISBN 0 94815452 7) describes the story in its entirety and is well worth the purchase.
©Leigh Bishop


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