A South Korean salvage team has discovered the wreck of Russian warship Dimitrii Donskoi, and the Donskoi is believed to have been carrying the gold supplies of the entire Second Pacific Squadron when it sank, which would be worth $133billion at today’s prices,113 years after it sank.
The warship was scuttled off the island of Ulleungdo in 1905 to stop it falling into Japanese hands following the battle of Tsushima during the Russo-Japanese War.
A Russian campaign group has since demanded that the entire fortune be returned to Moscow as a ‘goodwill gesture’.
Salvage divers have discovered the wreck of the Dimitrii Donskoi, a Russian warship that was scuttled in 1905, off the coast of a South Korean island.
Divers first found the wreck on Saturday but did not confirm the finding until the following day when they spotted Donskoi written on the stern in Cyrillic Yaroslav Livanskiy, an official of the Russian Public Movement to Commemorate Those Who Died Defending the Motherland, led the calls.
Livanskiy, who is also head of a salvage group in eastern Russia, 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.’
Divers from salvage firm Shinil Group have been searching for the wreck for years and finally located it on Saturday at a depth of 1,400ft (434m) around a mile off the coast of Ulleungdo.
Teams concluded that the wreckage was likely the Donskoi because its sail plan appeared identical to the long-lost ship, which had three sails and two chimney stacks, relying on both wind and coal power to drive it.
A second exploration of the wreck the following day confirmed it to be the Donskoi after the ship’s name was spotted written in Cyrillic across its stern.
Divers said the stern of the ship is in a poor condition along with the hull which has partially split, but that the upper wooden deck remains largely intact.
The armour on the side of the hull is well-preserved while the cannons, machine guns, anchor and steering wheel are all still in place.