After over a century of searching, a team of divers announced they have found the legendary wreck of the 1905 Russian warship Dimitrii Donskoi off the coast of South Korea, the salvage company Shinil Group confirmed.
Exactly 113 years ago, during the Russo-Japanese War, a skirmish in the Sea of Japan on May 29, 1905, sent the warship with some of its crew to the bottom of the ocean along with US$130 billion in gold bars and coins.
The treasure alone was enough to inspire hundreds to search for the sunken ship, however, it wasn’t until Saturday that two submarines manned by the South Korean salvage firm stumbled upon the 5,800-tonne battleship.
After years of searching, the remains of the Dimitrii Donskoi were found at a depth of 434 meters just 1.3 km off the coast of Ulleungdo, the Korea Times reports.
“One-third of the stern is bombarded and the hull is severely damaged. However, the upper deck of the wooden hull is almost untouched. The armor on the side of the hull is also well preserved, while the anchors, guns and machine guns remain in place,” Shinil Group said.
Divers believe the gold may be the cache of gold, weighing approximately 200 tonnes could be hidden inside the ship’s hold. Though no treasure has been found as of yet, Russia has already laid claim to the loot.
Yaroslav Livanskiy, a representative of the Russian Public Movement to Commemorate Those Who Died Defending the Motherland, said, “The cruiser is a priceless find for Russia, an invaluable relic, a symbol of our heroic and tragic past, a part of military history of Russia."
“Therefore whatever was discovered on board of the cruiser is inseparable from the overall value of the find.”
However, the Shinil Group said that half of the treasure will be returned to Russia for use on a railway connecting Russia to both North and South Korea, while an additional 10 percent of their findings will be donated to the development of Ulleungdo, an important South Korean tourist attraction.
The salvage operation will take about three months, the company said, and plans to hold a press conference soon to share their findings.