Lost Treasures of Sunken Steamships

The hunt for the treasures of the seabed, for most of us it remains just a dream - but there Herbert Humphreys made his work. In 1986, his eye fell on a Spanish galleon and since then he has discovered several more treasure-laden shipwrecks. One of his most striking discoveries was of  a steamship that sank off the coast of North Carolina. Former owner of the Holiday Inn Grand Cayman and treasure hunter Herbert Humphreys and his team recently dived and filmed a gold-laden steamship that was lost off the east coast of the United States before the American Civil War.
Mr. Humphreys, known as Herbo, said the 19th century steamship is located about 40 miles offshore, in international waters and that divers have already recovered some gold coins from the wreck. “We have positively identified the wreck as described in the research of Dr. Robert Stenuit of Brussels, Belgium,” said Hank Hudson, vice president of Marex Global, a deep sea recovery company. “From this detailed research, which includes contemporary newspaper reports, we have every expectation of a profitable and interesting recovery of pre-Civil War coins and artefacts.” [. . .] The team has codenamed the wreck the SS Caribe. Mr. Humphreys said the real name of the ship would be revealed once it had
been salvaged. The wreck is scattered over about 2,000 feet of sand, 100 feet deep in international waters, close to the Gulf Stream, Mr. Humphreys said. “It is a 19th century steamship with a wooden hull, much like the SS Central America. It has on board American pre-Civil War gold coins, some of which have already been recovered,” said Mr. Humphreys.

The SS Central America was a United States Mail steamship that sank in deep water off the coast of the Carolinas during a hurricane in 1857. It held tons of gold ingots, coins and nuggets from the western gold fields and was nicknamed the “Ship of Gold”. It was found in 1986 and the treasure was recovered. However, one of the discoverers of the wreck stole the treasure, ditched his investors and went on the run before being captured a few years later.

Other wrecks the Marex team have found over the years included the El Cazador, which sank in 1874, from which 400,000 ‘pieces of eight’ were recovered, the SS North Carolina from which two gold coins alone fetched US$420,000, the Vera Cruz, the Jupiter wreck, the ‘Henry VIII wreck, and the Ancona, an Italian liner in 1,800 feet off Sardinia.

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