By John McDermott - The Post and Courier
A deep-sea salvage vessel that's been pulling up gold and other treasure from a shipwreck off South Carolina has returned to Charleston and likely won't resume work at the site until next year.
Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. said Tuesday that its Odyssey Explorer is back in port for a few weeks for repairs and to be upfitted with new equipment.
The company said it ended its first recovery phase after retrieving more than 15,500 gold and silver coins, 45 gold bars and hundreds of nuggets, jewelry and other artifacts from the SS Central America. The value of the items was not disclosed.
Odyssey Explorer left Charleston in April. The wreck of the SS Central America is in 7,200 feet of water about 200 miles off the coast, Odyssey Marine said.
Mark Gordon, the Tampa-based company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement that it was "an appropriate time to suspend recovery operations to take a break for repairs and review the work we've recently completed."
Recovery efforts were hampered in recent weeks by Hurricane Cristobal and by the time required to complete a high-resolution video survey of the wreck and surrounding area, the company said.
Odyssey Marine said "an extensive amount of knowledge has been gained" about the site and the scope of the work required.
"Significant sections of the ship's structure, associated cultural heritage artifacts and coins were located some distance from the main shipwreck area, requiring excavation over a large area," the company said Tuesday.
"Sizable areas remain to be inspected and excavated outside the main shipwreck."
Gordon said the next step is to study the data collected over the past five months.