A British-led team has broken the world underwater salvage record after recovering almost 50 million dollars (£34 million) worth of silver coins from the wreck of a British steamship 17,000 feet under the sea, it emerged on Tuesday.
The SS City of Cairo was sunk by a German submarine 480 miles south of St. Helena on November 4 1942 en route from Bombay to England with 100 tons of silver coins on board housed in 2,000 rectangular black boxes.
The U-68 struck the slow-moving steamship with one torpedo but waited a further 20 minutes before inflicting the coup de grace, thus allowing all but six of the ship's 302 passengers and crew to escape on to lifeboats.
The German captain, Karl-Friedrich Merten, then approached the lifeboats and famously told the survivors in perfect English: "Goodnight, sorry for sinking you."
It took three weeks before the bulk of the crew were rescued, by which time 104 people on board the lifeboats had died.
The ship's vast treasure in silver rupees belonging to the UK Treasury was thought lost forever.