In November 1941 HMS Edinburgh was escorting Russian convoys, then as part of the Navy covering a returning convoy, QP 11, from Russia, she sailed from Murmansk on the 29th. of April 1942, two U-Boats, U-436 and U-456 were lying in wait for QP 11, they sat on the 73rd. parallel of latitude in longitude 33 degrees East.
On the 30th. U-436 loosed off a salvo of four torpedoes, all missed Edinburgh, but at 1615 ( 4.15 PM ) two fish from U-456, attacking the cruiser from her starboard side, rammed home, one entered the forward boiler room, extensive flooding resulted, the second torpedo, hit aft, blowing's the cruiser's stern off. It destroyed the rudder, made the two inner shafts useless, and the quarterdeck was folded back over the aft Y turret looking like an opened top of a tin of sardines. The Edinburgh sank with the loss of many of its crew and came to rest in 255MSW.
on board were nearly 500 Russian Gold bullion bars.
35 Years later and a pioneering British commercial Diver named Keith Jessop
realised that he and a crack team of divers (Friends) he would assemble, could feasibly dive to 255M in the Barents sea and recover the gold. It was an adventurous operation and Jessop fought hard to see it through.
12 Divers made the team and one of them was a Comex diver by the name of Banjo West. Banjo had an issued Rolex Comex 5514 and had gifted it to fellow diver Dougie Matheson prior to the bullion operation.
Jessop organised funding and negotiated with governments and eventually a deal was done. Jessop would hand over 60% of any bullion recovered.
It was not known if it was even still there as many thought the Russians may have salvaged it before them.
Keith Jessop, Banjo West, Dougie Matheson and 9 other divers recovered 431 Russian Gold Bullion Bars in 1981.
The most successful salvage operation of all time.
As Dougie Matheson handled the bullion @ 255m he had his Comex 5514 on his wrist.
In one dive alone Dougie Matheson brought up 40 bars worth four million pounds.
This is the extraordinary true story of the author's salvaging of the richest prize ever recovered from the bottom of the sea - $100 million in gold from the warship HMS Edinburgh, in the Arctic Ocean. It is a remarkable story, a biography of an ordinary kid who overcame all difficulties to pursue a dream and succeed in its achievement - and in so doing making him a very wealthy man indeed, reportedly the most successful treasure hunter and salvage diver in history. It is not usual to find a treasure hunter who possesses not only the determination to succeed, but also an exceptional ability to write about it. The son of a penniless Yorkshire mill-girl, Jessop may have lacked in basic schooling, but somewhere along the line he learnt how to write exceptionally well - perhaps it was a natural talent. This is a truly incredible book and a wonderful read.
This book was written by the only journalist to go on the project. it gives another viewpoint from that of Kieth Jessop in his account Goldfinder, and the two should be read to get an overall picture of a fantastic bit of marine recovery.
The Salvage of the Century...
is a detailed account of the greatest and most famous salvage ever carried out by divers. The HMS Edinburgh was torpedoed and sunk in 1942 while returning from escorting a convoy of military equipment to Russia. The Edinburgh was carrying 51/2 tons of Russian gold bullion on its way to the USA as payment for the supplies. She sunk in 803-840 feet of water, beyond the reach of divers, and was forgotten until deep diving technology developed for the North Sea oil industry brought the wreck and its treasure into the reach of divers. The book recounts the history of the sinking, the development of the deep diving technology, dealings with the British government, and the methods used to salvage the gold bullion by Wharton Williams, Ltd. This was the largest and most spectacular salvage operation carried out this century and should be read by every diver.
Rumours of a Hollywood Blockbuster in the making.