The SS Islander, pictured, departs from Victoria, B.C., to Gold Fields, Klondike in 1897. Four years later, the luxury vessel would sink with a reported six tons of gold aboard.
The SS Islander, owned by the Canadian Pacific Steam Navigation Company, plunged to the ocean floor Aug. 15 near Juneau, Ala., after hitting an iceberg.
The luxurious 240-foot vessel could have had up to 480,000 ounces of gold aboard (worth about $720 million) - some owned by the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports.
Seattle-based recovery company Ocean Mar, owned by Theodore Jaynes, 72, has been in a decades-long legal battle to obtain the rights to the cargo.
Controversy erupted when rival outfit Yukon Recovery filed a restraining order against Ocean Mar in the 1990s, however in April, U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland sided with Ocean Mar because it was determined to have located the ill-fated vessel first.
"One way or the other, we're going to know the answer to the SS Islander story," Jaynes' Seattle-based lawyer, Jed Powell, told the Journal in May.
It remains a mystery if there's gold on board.
"Some people say none, some say a lot. Sworn affidavits from 1902, from people on the docks in Skagway (Alaska) - some of them said there were tons of gold, others saw there were boxes of gold," Powell said.
It's not the first time treasure hunters have attempted to salvage the contents of the steamliner. In 1934, a company raised about two-thirds of the hull, but the front half - where the gold is believed to be - broke off and remains on the ocean floor.