Online Catalogue last updated 25th of June 2012
This is quite an expensive book for its size, but it is certainly worth it for all the information that it gives the reader.
Over the years there has settled on the sea bed in the holds of sunken ships an enormous wealth in metals unspoilt by immersion in sea water, ranging from antimony and bismuth to uranium and wolfram. Of course there is gold and silver amongst them, but the bigger industrial cargoes far exceed in value most losses of bullion that history has ever seen. Here is a book that illustrates the hitherto unpublicised business of recovering such cargoes.
These techniques of salvage were established by an Italian before World War II, and much expanded by an Englishman named Risdon Beazley after it. The book starts with the English recovery of a ton of the Bank of England's gold off Newfoundland, an endeavour spanning twenty five years. Part of its risk was funded by two remarkable First World War sinkings, one off the Faeroes the other which took thirteen year to find - well south of the Scillies. Together these three ventures, with allusions to a few others, illustrates all the practical, commercial, and historical essentials of this exciting , chancy, and sometimes dangerous business.
There follows the salvage of more than 4 million pounds stirling from 1000 feet down in the Mediterranean, and effort in most respects a record. Also described some some covert salvage operations in the Far East, where international maritime law is not followed or understood all that well by local authorities. Recovering a ton of gold from a Japanese submarine sunk in 1944 off the coast of Malaysia. Or getting arrested by the communist Chinese while salvaging in Taiwanese waters.
Details of the background research that is needed before attempting a salvage is described. It doesn't cost as much to spend weeks pouring through government and insurance company archives than it does to spend days looking in the wrong spot for sunken ships. Details of the changes in the systems of reading the points of a compass over the last 200 years are described, and are absolutely necessary when using old documents and archives.
Reasons for the most successful undersea salvage business, Risdon Beazley, for closing down after 30 year of operation are given. In that time they recovered over 25,000 tonne of copper; 9,000 tonne of lead; 4,000 tonne of steel; 2,500 tonne of tin; 4,000 tonne of brass; 2,000 tonne of zinc; 2,000 ton of aluminium; 1,000 tonne of nickel; 1 tonne of gold; and much more totalling over 51,000 tonnes, recovered from 77 ships.
Care should also be noted on the who owns the cargoes. Some governments claim to own anything within their territorial limits, while if a cargo is valuable, there would probably be an insurance company somewhere that has paid out on its loss, and who will own it.
Lastly there is a description of some choice deep water cargoes that have yet to be recovered.
Code No. 008163, 134 pages, $105.00