Weapons-smuggling ship found in the US may be filled with gold

A 19th-century steamer that was once used to smuggle weapons and carry cash was found off the coast of South Carolina during the weekend and it could still be filled with gold, Discovery News reports.

Identified as the SS Ozama, the vessel was discovered beneath 40 feet of water off Cape Romain, around 30 miles northeast of Charleston, researcher Dr. E. Lee Spence told the news outlet.

Dr Spence first learned of the 1028-ton, 126-foot ship in 1979, while carrying out a magnetometer survey, but only positively identified it this year, while carrying out research on other ships.

Researchers believe it could have been carrying extensive amounts of gold at the time of its wreckage, in 1894, to help support or overthrow the Haitian government as the steamer was at the centre of an international incident after it was seized by Haiti, when the captain of a US warship threatened to shell Port-au-Prince if the ship wasn't released.

 Discovery News reports the vessel was also used to carry money, including $300,000 in paper money to Haiti, which was being used to replace a previous form of cash.

Originally named the Craigallion, the ship was made in Leith, Scotland in 1881 and three years later went from New York to Central America, carrying one of the great dredges used in the construction of the Panama Canal.

Image:  SS Ozama was similar to this ship, Princess Anne. By the US Library of Congress