Wreck S.S. City Of Cairo – World record salvage at 5150m!
Under contract to the UK Ministry of Transport, DOS recovered close to a hundred tons of silver coins from steam ship City Of Cairo laying at a depth of 5150m – a world depth record.
The SS City of Cairo (Captain William Rogerson) was a mixed cargo and passenger ship belonging to Ellerman Lines and was on a voyage from Bombay to England, via Cape Town and Recife, Brazil, unescorted, in late 1942.
She carried 296 souls of which 136 were passengers and a mixed cargo including some 100 tons of silver coins belonging to the UK Treasury.
She was spotted by U-68 on the 6th of November 1942 and torpedoed at 2030 hrs.
“DOS recovered close to a hundred tons of silver coins from a depth of 5150m – a world depth record.”
– John Kingsford
The team quickly found that operating at this depth caused serious technical difficulties which were new to us and which had to be resolved, quickly. The combination of pressure, temperature, repeated dives at this depth and other issues resulted in multiple breakdowns of systems such as we had not experienced before when working in 3000 – 4000m depths. Some of these issues were new to our suppliers too. However our team overcame them which resulted in our ability to make our equipment work non-stop for days on end at these extreme depths – an invaluable and critical lesson for DOS for the future.
Many items were seen on and around the wreck including the end section of the second torpedo, where the contra-rotating propellers could clearly be seen. Apart from the silver cargo this was the only item recovered from the site.
DOS left a plaque commemorating their finding and visiting the ship before they left the site finally on the 25th September 2013.
Photos credits: Frederic Bassemayousse
Thank you for the wonderful photos. I’ve written about the “SS City of Cairo” in “Our Name Wasn’t Written – A Malta Memoir” and about the servicemen’s families travelling on board these unescorted ships from Cape Town to the UK. It is touching to think that this grave is no longer unknown. Thank you for providing information to the public on your work.
Sorry for our late reply. Many thanks for your post and your kind support. We didn’t know about your book! Be sure that we will read it with great interest as soon as possible. All the best, the DOS team.