A South Korean firm reportedly discovered the wreck of a sunken Russian Imperial Navy cruiser reportedly carrying $133 billion worth of gold a mile off the South Korean island of Ulleung.
The vessel Dimitrii Donskoi, which sank during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, is believed to contain an entire flotilla’s treasury meant to cover port expenses and pay the salaries of sailors and officers, based on historical accounts. Its reputation has made it a coveted target for many treasure hunters in the past.
The ship was an armored cruiser in the Russian Imperial Navy’s Baltic fleet and was deployed to the Pacific along with several other ships to join the battle.
During the Battle of Tsushima, the Dimitrii Donskoi was chased by Japanese warships and was eventually scuttled by its crew to avoid surrender.
It is believed several other ships that were damaged in the battle may have also transferred their gold reserves to the infamous warship.
According to South Korean company Shinil Group, it has identified the exact location where the ship currently lies.
The firm reportedly found the rusty hull of the armored Russian warship after using submersibles to dive 434 meters (1,424 feet) deep into the waters, some 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) off the island.
Images released by the salvage team shows the word “Donskoi” written in Cyrillic, Yonhap News reports.
“The name… was discovered on the stern of the ship,” the company was quoted as saying. “Our discovery has finally put a stop to a controversy over the Donskoi’s existence and sunken location. We’ll soon go ahead with procedures to rescue the ship.”
After spending years trying to find the ship, the firm is now preparing to salvage the fabled treasure in a planned joint operation with companies from China, Canada, and Britain.
The firm plans to start the operation in October and potentially present the finds to the public in December.
By the company’s estimates, there may be as much as 200 tons of gold inside the fabled ship, and that the entire treasure could total up to $133 billion.
Shinil has pledged to spend 10% of the loot on investment projects to develop and improve Ulleung Island, a popular tourist destination.
Another 10% was also promised to the Russian government, being the original owner of the sunken ship, according to Shinil.
Russia, which has reportedly been aiding the South Korean firm with their search, has agreed not to claim more than the pledged amount.