News & Opinion | July 24, 2018 5:00 am

Uncertainty Surrounds Claims of Gold-Filled Russian Shipwreck

Doubts that the Dmitrii Donskoi would have or could have carried that much gold.

shipwreck
Imperial Russian Cruiser Dmitriy Donskoy. (Wikipedia)

A South Korean company recently announced that it had discovered the wreck of the Dmitrii Donskoi, a Russian armored cruiser that sunk off the coast of Ulleungdo, a South Korean island, during the height of the Russo-Japanese War. The company who found the wreck announced that treasures worth $132 billion are still inside the ship, but historians and financial experts aren’t so sure.

Shinil Group, a company that was founded just last month, released photos and video footage of the wreckage, along with the coordinates of the ship’s location. Shinil says that the ship holds at least 200 tons of gold worth $132 billion and plans to release evidence soon supporting this assertion. But these claims have been called into question. The Associated Press notes that the company’s estimation of the ship’s treasure “appears to be a huge overvaluation.” Smithsonian writes the Bank of Korea’s 104 tons of gold reserves have been valued at around $4.8 billion, making it unlikely that 200 tons of gold would be worth $132 billion. It is also unlikely that the ship could even have carried such a huge load.

Russian researchers have said it is unlikely that the Donskoi ever carried tons of gold into battle because trains would have been much safer and a more probable mode of transportation. Smithsonian also writes that the ship probably didn’t have room for so much gold since it was carrying 1,600 tons of coal, 500 sailors and more than 12 pieces of artillery.