Billions of pounds worth of gold is believed to be trapped in the wrecks of merchant ships that were sunk during the First and Second World Wars.

Researchers believe they have identified more than 700 ships that may have been carrying £4.5 billion worth of gold and other precious metals.

The team at Britannia’s Gold say they have managed to gather documents from various government agencies and think they now know the location of the ships.

According to their website, the team are planning to initially target three ships – two from the First World War and one from the Second World War – which could contain around £750 million.

All British warships sunk since 1914 are classified as both war graves and sovereign territory, but most merchant wrecks do not have such protection.

“All will be treated with respect and those wrecks known to be sensitive and specifically, to have carried evacuee children, will be avoided at all costs”.

Britannia’s Gold also stress that whilst recovering any treasure they wish “to bestow the utmost respect upon the shipwrecks on which they intend to conduct salvage operations”

If any treasure is recovered, legally it belongs to the British government.

Then once the operation costs are covered, the rest will be shared among investors, with a percentage going to merchant marine charities