Sunken treasure ships have been a part of cinema culture for decades as the fantasy around the sunken ship and its treasure captures the imaginations of millions.
But recently, another real life case of this has turned up in a discovery off the coast of South Korea. Russian Imperial Navy cruiser Dmitrii Donskoi went down well over a century ago during a battle with the Japanese with a massive cargo of gold.
It was scuttled in order to prevent the Japanese from getting their hands on the 5,500 boxes of gold bars and bullion that it was carrying. That’s well over 200 tons of gold that today is estimated to be worth over $130 billion.
The Telegraph reports:
A South Korean salvage team has reportedly discovered the wreck of a Russian warship that is believed to still contain 200 tons of gold bullion and coins worth 150 trillion won ($130 billion).
The Russian Imperial Navy cruiser Dmitrii Donskoi, which was sunk in a naval battle 113 years ago, was discovered at a depth of more than 1,400 feet about one mile off the South Korean island of Ulleungdo, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The U.K. newspaper reported that a joint team made up of experts from South Korea, Britain and Canada discovered the wreck on Sunday. They had used two manned submersibles to capture footage of the vessel.
The images caught by the submersibles show “extensive damage to the vessel caused in an encounter with Japanese warships in May 1905, along with cannons and deck guns encrusted with marine growth, the anchor and the ship’s wheel,” the Telegraph reported.
There are reports that the Dmitrii Donskoi, which was scuttled during the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, went down with 5,500 boxes of gold bars and coins still in its holds to stop the Japanese seizing it.
The Seoul-based Shinil Group, which led the exploration that found the ship, hopes to raise it in October or November. It estimates the gold would have a value today of around $130 billion.
Half of any treasure found aboard the vessel would be handed over to the Russian government, the company said, while 10 percent of the remainder will be invested in tourism projects on Ulleungdo Island, including a museum dedicated to the vessel
So far, the salvage team hasn’t seen the gold yet, but if the ship is raised, and the gold is discovered on board the wrecked vessel, they’re saying that the Russian Federation will get to lay claim to half of the treasure, while the remainder is to be split up amongst various other parties.