Above photos of Tommy Thompson. Thompson is the man behind the planning and successful recovery of the most important treasure in US history. The SS Central America sank in 1857 with 21 tons of California gold and silver. In the late 1980s into the 1990s, Thompson and his team salvaged tons of gold, silver and artifacts from the wreck site with the use of the R/V Arctic Discoverer and their ROV NEMO.