Digging History

Sunken WWII ship may contain $130 million of Nazi gold

The SS Minden, a German cargo ship scuttled in waters near Iceland during the early days of World War II, may contain a huge trove of Nazi gold.

The merchant vessel, which is 120 nautical miles south of Iceland, is in the international spotlight following the reported discovery of  a chest containing up to four tons of Nazi gold on the wreck. The horde is valued at 100 million British pounds (approximately $130 million), according to news reports.

U.K. salvage company Advanced Marine Services (AMS) has reportedly requested permission from Icelandic authorities to cut a hole in the ship’s hull and remove the chest.

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A spokesman for the Icelandic Environmental Agency told Fox News that an application has been received. However, it could be some weeks before a decision is made on whether permission will be given, and if so, under which terms. An update may be issued next month, he added.

In April, Iceland Monitor reported that Seabed Constructor, the salvage vessel hired by AMS, was directed to dock at Reykjavik after catching the attention of Iceland’s Coast Guard. The company’s lawyer reportedly told the Coast Guard that the crew of the Seabed Constructor was looking for the Minden.

A representative for the company confirmed to Fox News that Seabed Constructor was requested into Reykjavik on April 8.  “The company co-operated fully with the Icelandic Coast Guard and, having clarified its legitimate activity, was quickly able to return to sea,” he explained, via email. “AMS complies fully with international maritime law and has at no time conducted any activity without the requisite permits.”

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The Minden is not in Iceland’s territorial waters, but is within the country’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from Iceland’s coast. This means that, while, the Icelandic authorities cannot make claim to any salvage from the wreck, it can enforce pollution controls and environmental impact measures at the shipwreck site.

Wrecksite notes that the Minden was scuttled by her crew on Sept. 24 1939 to prevent her valuable cargo from falling into the hands of the Royal Navy. The ship was returning to Germany from South America.

The hunt for Nazi gold continues to be a source of fascination, as evidenced by recent efforts to locate a purportedly treasure-laden Nazi train buried in Poland.

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Last month a trove of suspected Nazi artifacts were found in Argentina. Other Nazi artifacts have also been discovered in other parts of the world. Last year, for example, a time capsule buried by Nazis was unearthed in Poland.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers