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Florida treasure-hunters find new silver ship

Millions of dollars in sunken treasure almost 100 years old was discovered in the North Atlantic Ocean.

October 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A British ship torpedoed by a German submarine in 1917 was discovered in the North Atlantic Ocean filled with silver pieces, a Florida company announced Monday.

Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. announced it had located the SS Mantola, which sank Feb. 9, 1917, during World War I.

It's speculated the ship holds almost 19 tons of silver pieces.

A recovery operation is being planned for the spring of 2012.

Odyssey will retain 80 percent of the value of the silver that's recovered. At current market prices, that much silver would be worth more than $19 million.

The ship sits about 8,000 feet underwater.

The Tampa-based company, which uses remote-control underwater vehicles to locate and salvage wrecks in some the deepest water ever explored, is best known for being embroiled in a protracted legal fight with the government of Spain over 17 tons of silver and other treasure salvaged from the wreck of a sunken galleon in 2007.

Odyssey made an international splash when it flew the treasure back to Florida in May 2007. The Spanish government immediately filed a claim in federal court claiming that it never relinquished ownership of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes and its cargo. The federal court sided with Spain. Last month, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta affirmed the decision, but Odyssey has asked for another hearing before all of the court's judges.

The treasure, which has been estimated to be worth as much as $500 million, is still in Odyssey's possession in an undisclosed location.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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