Nightly News   |  August 04, 2013

US treasure hunters find big score

The group found over $77 million worth of silver three miles under the sea. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, a story that gives a new meaning to silver lining . treasure hunters scored one for the record books when they recovered more than 100 tons of silver from a british ship that was sunk during world war ii . and what a payday it was. nbc's kerry sanders tonight.

>> reporter: off the coast of ireland, three miles down, american treasure hunters found the mother lode . in waters deeper than the titanic, bars of precious silver, in all 110 tons.

>> fantastic. hasn't quite sunk in yet, but it's starting to dawn on me now what we've achieved out here.

>> reporter: the gair sop pa was a british steamship torpedoed in 1941 by one of hitler's u-boats. the cargo traveling to great britain to fund the war effort . in all, the sal raj team pulled up 2,792 silver inningities.

>> hn his majesty mint, bombay.

>> we're sitting on $700,000 worth of silver.

>> yeah.

>> and the numbers are a bit mind-boggling. i just see them as very heavy lumps of waste we've been pulled around.

>> reporter: the final silver bar was pulled to the surface days ago.

>> that's the last one.

>> reporter: 20% goes to the british government , the treasure hunters odyssey marine treasure hunters get 80% of a treasure that exceeds $77 million.

>> this is the deepest recovery of precious metal ever done. it's a world record . the water depth is almost 15,000 feet, about three miles deep.

>> reporter: also recovered, letters.

>> oh, my god, here's a stamp on the letter. india postage.

>> reporter: newspapers from 1941 and financial records .

>> manufacturers life insurance company. this actually may be worth something to this family if it can be tracked down.

>> reporter: so what happens to all this silver in the vault? it's headed to the british mint, the same mint that's striking commemorative coins for the newborn prince. because this could be the target of thieves, all i can say is kerry sanders , nbc news, somewhere in great britain.