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Jack Peterson, expedition leader
"It has been confirmed that there are some special coins"
 real 28k

Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Treasure hunt on Christmas ship
The Sauternes
The Sauternes was known as the Christmas ship
Divers have begun looking for treasure on a cargo ship which set off from Scotland 60 years ago - but never reached its destination.

The Sauternes was taking provisions and Christmas presents to British soldiers stationed in the Faroe Islands during the Second World War.

But it sank in Fugloyarfjord with a cargo which is also believed to have included more than a quarter of a million Danish coins.

Diver
One of the divers involved in the expedition
The Sauternes was dubbed the Christmas ship when it left the Firth of Forth in December 1941 loaded with meat, other foods, alcohol and the money.

It was on a provisions trip for British soldiers stationed in the Faroes, which was a Danish protectorate.

However, the vessel was overwhelmed by a storm after anchoring in a fjord and sank in waters nearly 100m deep.

The 20 people on board drowned.

Contemporary reports suggested that the captain had been confused by local Faroese names and had picked the more dangerous of two anchorages.

Artefacts recovered

In 1999 the vessel was found using an underwater camera, and last year initial inspections by divers were carried out.

Some artefacts, including the ship's bell and a telegraph machine, have been recovered.

Now investigators, licensed by the Faroese Government, are trying to find the 260,000 Danish coins thought to be in the wreck.

The Danish divers tried to reach the wreck for the first time last May.

That expedition failed, but the position of the wreck was marked and pictures taken.

The ship's bell
The ship's bell has been recovered
There was a further attempt in July of that year, and the third bid got under way earlier this month.

Divers found the ship's bell on Monday, and were able to lift it to the surface the following day.

The divers' diary of the trip, which is published on the expedition's website, told of the excitement of the find.

"The trip into Norodepil was in high spirits," it said.

"Word travels fast and as Dragaberg sailed into the harbour the key was full of well wishers.

"The bell was lifted on to the key and the locals could see and touch the bell. "

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See also:

16 Apr 01 | UK
Divers give up U-boat loo
01 Mar 00 | Wales
Treasure sold on internet
25 Sep 99 | Scotland
A modern-day tale of Whisky Galore
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