LIQUOR CARGO SAL­VAGED FROM WWI-ERA SHIP­WRECK

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —AFP

STOCK­HOLM—A Swedish team has sal­vaged hun­dreds of bot­tles of liquor from the wreck of a ship sunk dur­ing World War I in the Baltic Sea.

Ocean X, a group that spe­cial­izes in sal­vaging al­co­hol from ship­wrecks, said it was test­ing the bot­tles from a cargo bound for

tsarist Rus­sia to see if they were still fit to drink.

The group brought 600 bot­tles of co­gnac and 300 bot­tles of Bene­dic­tine—a herbal liqueur—to shore on Oct. 22 af­ter re­cov­er­ing them from the wreck of the Ky­ros, which was sunk by a Ger­man sub­ma­rine in 1917.

Bot­tles of the co­gnac, pro­duced by the now-de­funct dis­tillers De Haart­man, and the Bene­dic­tine are be­ing tested in a lab­o­ra­tory.

“The con­di­tions in the Baltic are very suit­able for stor­ing these kind of bev­er­ages be­cause it’s ... dark and very cold,” said Peter Lind­berg, who led the ex­pe­di­tion.

Lo­cated 20 years ago

The Ky­ros left Swe­den in May 1917 and was sunk in the Sea of Aland with an ex­plo­sive charge. The ship’s crew sur­vived and were trans­ferred to an­other ves­sel. They later re­turned to Swe­den, ac­cord­ing to Ocean X.

Lind­berg said his group lo­cated the wreck nearly 20 years ago but lost the po­si­tion, find­ing it many years later.

Af­ter re­lo­cat­ing the steamship at a depth of 77 me­ters in the Sea of Aland be­tween Swe­den and Fin­land, it took years to clear the wreck of aban­doned fish­ing nets so divers could in­spect it, but even then con­di­tions proved to be too dif­fi­cult to search man­u­ally.

“Af­ter we had been there sev­eral times with divers and a smaller ROV (re­motely op­er­ated ve­hi­cle), we re­al­ized that the sit­u­a­tion was be­com­ing too dan­ger­ous,” Lind­berg said.

Ocean X asked a sal­vage com­pany with re­mote un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cles to help raise the bot­tles.

Hop­ing for auc­tion

Lind­berg and his team are op­ti­mistic the bot­tles have not leaked as there is still a layer of air be­tween the cork and the spir­its in­side, and many of the Co­gnac bot­tles were sealed with a thin layer of tin.

“The value of these bot­tles is yet to be de­cided be­cause the Co­gnac is of a brand which does not ex­ist to­day,” Lind­berg said.

He hopes the spir­its can be sold at in­ter­na­tional auc­tion houses where he has put pre­vi­ous finds un­der the ham­mer, and hopes they would com­mand a high price.

“I don’t know if I can af­ford to keep a bot­tle for my­self,” he said.

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