“Odyssey is conducting the Gairsoppa project under contract with the UK Department for Transport”

As the Guardian reports, US company Odyssey Marine Eploration have announced the recovery of “approximately 48 tons of silver bullion from a depth of approximately three miles” from the SS Gairsoppa, 300 miles off the Irish coast.

According to Odyssey Marine

This initial recovery of bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank in February 1941, totals 1,203 silver bars or approximately 1.4 million troy ounces of silver and has been transported to a secure facility in the United Kingdom. After unloading the cargo, taking on fuel and changing personnel, recovery operations will continue and are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2012. This record-breaking operation has so far produced the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metals from a shipwreck.

Odyssey is conducting the Gairsoppa project under contract with the UK Department for Transport. Under the terms of the agreement, which follows standard commercial practices, Odyssey bears the risk of search and recovery and retains 80% of the net salved value of the Gairsoppa silver cargo after recovering its expenses. The contract was awarded to Odyssey following a competitive tender process.

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 Guardian report estimates that “the value of the whole cargo could be £121m.”

Then there’s the SS Mantola and any others they find.

Unlike the ‘Black Swan’ treasure, they’ll not have to return the haul.