It’s not everyday your country is a key component of an undersea mission to locate a century-old shipwreck that could contain hundreds of billions-worth of treasure. Sounds like the plot to a weirdly dramatic action movie, doesn’t it? Well, it’s real. This week, South Korean salvaging company Shinil Group remotely located a vessel just off the Korean coast and enlisted Canadian marine exploration company Nuytco Research Ltd. to check it out.
What they found was exactly what Shinil Group expected: the 5,800-tonne Russian battleship Dmitrii Donskoi — the nameplate was still intact and everything.
The Dmitrii Donskoi first set sale in 1885 and spent 20 years sailing around the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas as part of Russian Baltic fleet. In the early 1900s, the ship was re-purposed for use in the Russo-Japanese War (a conflict that was part of the setup for World War I) during which it ultimately sank in a 1905 battle. Shinil Group claims they are “the only entity in the world” to have see the ship since.
Oh yeah, and there might be $130 billion in gold on board.
— CNN Today (@cnntoday) July 19, 2018
The ship is approximately 480 meters below the ocean’s surface and teetering on the edge of an underwater ledge. Shinil Group first discovered the ship earlier this month, then recruited the Vancouver-based exploration team to pinpoint the vessel and verify its identity. The team worked more quickly than anticipated and was able to confirm the found ship was the Dmitrii Donskoi within three days.
We have some competing stories here though. Shinil Group claims they are the only organization to discover the ship and that they have reason to believe there are billions of dollars of gold on board. They say the treasure is in the form of gold bars that were to be payment to the crew members.
“We believe there are gold boxes, and it’s historically proven,” a spokesperson for the company told Reuters, “The boxes were very tightly lashed, indicating there are really precious stuff inside.”
However, their claim was disputed by the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) shortly after. The government-run organization told South Korean press that they discovered the wreck in 2003 and that there is no gold on board. According to Reuters, KIOST has maps of the wreck’s location and photos dating 2007 on their website. They also report that a South Korean construction company has come forward to claim the discovery too.
Shinil Group has refuted these contradictory accounts and maintains that there is gold on the ship. They have stated that when they retrieve the gold, half will be given back to Russia and the rest will be divided between charities within South Korea and organizations working with and in North Korea in pursuit of inter-Korean development.
Seems like a noble cause, but we’ll see how this all shakes out.
Shinil Group claimed they found the Russian ship Wreck, Dmitrii Donskoi (sunk in Korean water in 1905) carrying $130 billion in gold. To raise the deposit, the company recently issued own cryptocurrency, Shinil Gold Coin. Fishy or NOT?? #treasureship #crypto #gold #dmitriidonskoi pic.twitter.com/ruvioWDP6D
— SeiminK 권세민 權世敏 (@WirexAsiaHead) July 19, 2018