Analysis Of The Cargo And Salvage Potential
Of The R. M. S. REPUBLIC.
THE RMS REPUBLIC
General. The RMS REPUBLIC was operated as a passenger ship, and was qualified to carry US and British mail (hence her "Royal Mail Ship" designation) and cargo, by White Star Line, a British passenger vessel operator of which J.P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine Company ("IMM"), a US corporation, was the principal stockholder. The RMS REPUBLIC was built in 1903 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard, Belfast, and was initially operated as the RMS COLUMBUS by the Dominion Line in that line's Boston - Mediterranean service. In December, 1903, Dominion Line was sold to the IMM group and the Vessel began operating for White Star Line as the RMS REPUBLIC. It was part of White Star Line's regular trans-Atlantic service between Boston and the Mediterranean, but was occasionally assigned to New York - Mediterranean service during winter months. At the time, the RMS REPUBLIC was one of the major passenger liners in the world.
The RMS REPUBLIC was approximately 570 feet long, with a 68 foot beam, a deadweight of 15,378 metric tons (with a single stack), and provided accommodations for 280 first, 250 second, and 2,300 third class passengers. She had a crew of about 300.
Collision and Sinking
NOTE: The following description of the last voyage of the RMS REPUBLIC is a summary of contemporaneous newspaper accounts (New York Times, New York Tribune, New York Herald, New York World and others), and other historical documents including information gathered from the National Archives, Washington, D. C., Public Records Office, Surrey, England, U.S. Customs Office, Port of New York, and others, researched and prepared by Captain Martin Bayerle and is necessarily incomplete. The Company has relied upon these newspaper accounts and historical documents prepared by Captain Bayerle and disclaims responsibility for any inaccuracy resulting from this reliance. In addition, interpretations of such accounts may vary. You are encouraged to review the copies of these accounts and documents which are available at the Company's website, http://rms-republic.com/index1.html
In January 1909, the RMS REPUBLIC was scheduled for a voyage from New York to several Mediterranean ports including Gibraltar, Genoa, and Alexandria, Egypt. Many of her first class passengers were aboard the RMS REPUBLIC as a part of a two-month "Thomas Cook" tour to the Mediterranean, of which the trans-Atlantic crossing on the RMS REPUBLIC was the first leg. She carried 461 passengers, 250 were First Class and 211 Steerage. There are mentions of a few Second Class passengers, presumably upgraded to First Class; the second class spaces were reportedly unoccupied and may have been under charter.
The RMS REPUBLIC left New York at approximately 1500 hours on Friday, January 22, 1909. That evening, the RMS REPUBLIC encountered thick fog off Nantucket Lightship, and navigation became difficult.
At about 0540 hours on January 23, the RMS REPUBLIC collided with a vessel later determined to be the S. S. FLORIDA, a steamship owned by Lloyd Italiano, an Italian shipping company. The S. S. FLORIDA was en route to New York from Naples, carrying primarily immigrants to the United States.
The S. S. FLORIDA struck the RMS REPUBLIC on the port side just aft of amidships, and its bow cut into the RMS REPUBLIC's hull from the upper deck down to below the water line. The RMS REPUBLIC's engine room flooded, and power to the main generators stopped. Her fires were gradually drawn to avoid an explosion from an onrush of water into the ship's boilers.
The S. S. FLORIDA drifted apart from the RMS REPUBLIC on its own power. Its bow was set in approximately 30 feet, but the S. S. FLORIDA was otherwise undamaged by the collision and could navigate adequately.
The RMS REPUBLIC's officers and crew, meanwhile assembled the passengers on deck and began sending distress signals by Marconi wireless. (This was reportedly the first practical application of the then recently invented wireless in an open sea rescue effort.) The S. S. LORRAINE (French Line, inbound), the S. S. LUCANIA (Cunard Line, inbound), and the RMS BALTIC (White Star Line, inbound) received the calls and made for the RMS REPUBLIC's reported position. Coast Guard vessels GRESHAM, MOHAWK, and SENECA also headed for the site.
The S. S. FLORIDA returned to the RMS REPUBLIC at or about 0700 hours, and the RMS REPUBLIC's passengers began transferring to the S. S. FLORIDA in the RMS REPUBLIC's eleven lifeboats, each of which made over twenty trips in relatively calm seas.
The S. S. BALTIC arrived at the site around 1900 hours, and the officers of the RMS REPUBLIC, the S. S. FLORIDA and the S. S. BALTIC decided that the S. S. FLORIDA's condition made it advisable to transfer all of the RMS REPUBLIC's and the S. S. FLORIDA's passengers and crew to the S. S. BALTIC. This second transfer was reportedly much more difficult than the first because the vessels were a mile apart, and the seas had become choppy. The operation began at 2340 hours, and ended at 0800 hours January 24.
By 1030 hours January 24, the S. S. FURNESSIA (Anchor Line, inbound), S. S. NEW YORK (American Line, inbound), and some salvage tugs were at the scene. The RMS REPUBLIC seemed to its officers in little danger of sinking, and the S. S. BALTIC left to return to New York with the passengers and crews of both the RMS REPUBLIC and the S. S. FLORIDA. The S. S. BALTIC reportedly removed sacks of mail from the RMS REPUBLIC and returned them to New York. The cutter GRESHAM arrived, and S. S. NEW YORK then accompanied the S. S. FLORIDA on its journey to New York.
The RMS REPUBLIC's master, Captain Inman Sealby, stayed aboard the RMS REPUBLIC with some of the deck officers and a boat crew. Capt. Sealby refused assistance from the salvage tug CITY OF EVERETT (Standard Oil, en route Boston - New York), which had offered to pump out the RMS REPUBLIC's engine room and transport her cargo and passenger's baggage back to New York on Standard Oil's barge No. 94, which had accompanied CITY OF EVERETT to the scene. Instead, GRESHAM put a line up to the RMS REPUBLIC's bow and FURNESSIA tied up to the stern, so that GRESHAM could tow with FURNESSIA steering at the stern. The objective was to tow the RMS REPUBLIC back to New York or, if necessary, north to shallow water where she could ground and be more easily salvaged. Progress was slow, the tow making only 1 to 2 knots, even after SENECA had tied up to the RMS REPUBLIC's bow and begun assisting GRESHAM in the tow. The tow reported during the early evening that it was 9 miles southwest of Nantucket Lightship, six miles north of its original position.
At about 2010 hours on the evening of January 24, however, FURNESSIA's line broke, and the choppy seas did not permit SENECA to assist it in running the line back. Speed was reduced to protect GRESHAM's line, and the RMS REPUBLIC's stern began to settle. Capt. Sealby ordered abandon ship, remaining behind himself with Second Officer Williams. At 2030 hours, by pre-arranged signal, Capt. Sealby reported that the RMS REPUBLIC was sinking and GRESHAM and SENECA cut their lines.
At 2040 hours, the RMS REPUBLIC sank stern first, its bow rising into the air at an angle of approximately 40 degrees, and it disappeared approximately 39 hours after the collision. The master of the SENECA recorded the place of sinking as latitude 40°25'30" N, longitude 69°40'00" W.
Based on these accounts, the Company believes that any cargo aboard the RMS REPUBLIC was most likely not removed from the RMS REPUBLIC during the transfer of passengers to the S. S. FLORIDA and S. S. BALTIC in the rescue operation. First, all published reports indicate that the immediate concern was to move the RMS REPUBLIC's passengers to the safety of another ship, and that cargo and baggage were abandoned. Second, the Captain reportedly did not believe the ship was in immediate danger of sinking and was attempting to move the RMS REPUBLIC. There is a specific report of the mail being transferred, without mention of any other cargo. Finally, by the time the RMS REPUBLIC's condition had become critical, it was in tow of GRESHAM and SENECA and no recovery operation was possible. In any event, such an operation would have been enormously difficult because the RMS REPUBLIC had no power for its winches, and would have had no mechanism for lowering cargo into boats. The newspaper articles describe the choppy seas, darkness, and distances that hindered the transfer of passengers in lifeboats, and these factors would have increased further the risks of off-loading heavy cargo. Additionally, if the gold cargo was aboard, the Company believes that it would have been stored, as was generally the practice, in a strongroom below decks - an area that was probably flooded soon after the collision.
NOTE: THE FOLLOWING DESCRIPTION OF THE RMS REPUBLIC'S CARGO, AND THE RESEARCH STUDY AVAILABLE AT THE COMPANY’S WEBSITE, SUMMARIZES AND DRAWS CONCLUSIONS FROM CONTEMPORANEOUS NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS AND OTHER HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS COLLECTED BY CAPTAIN BAYERLE. THE COMPANY HAS RELIED UPON THESE ACCOUNTS AND DISCLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INACCURACY RESULTING FROM THIS RELIANCE. THE SUMMARY OF THESE ACCOUNTS AND OTHER HISTORICAL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE RESEARCH, WAS FURNISHED BY CAPTAIN BAYERLE, IS NECESSARILY INCOMPLETE AND IS QUALIFIED IN ITS ENTIRETY TO SUCH ACCOUNTS AND MATERIALS. FURTHERMORE, THE CONCLUSIONS DRAWN BY THE COMPANY AND CAPTAIN BAYERLE ARE NOT INCONTROVERTIBLE; INTERPRETATIONS OF DOCUMENTS AND STATEMENTS MAY DIFFER. YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO REVIEW THE RESEARCH AND OTHER SOURCE MATERIALS AT THE COMPANY’S WEBSITE IN DEPTH.
THE RMS REPUBLIC'S CARGO
Means available to establish definitively the cargo of the RMS REPUBLIC, or any other ship of the period, are severely limited. In many cases, cargo manifests, bills of lading and other shipping documents are no longer available. The White Star Line's records for the RMS REPUBLIC (and the RMS OCEANIC and RMS BALTIC, see website) have not been found. While one newspaper account from the time suggested that the RMS REPUBLIC's logbooks and cargo documents were removed prior to the sinking and taken to White Star Line's Liverpool offices, the curator of White Star Line's archives in Liverpool, England believes that such documents were lost or destroyed prior to White Star Line's merger with Cunard Steamship Company in 1934.
Moreover, valuable cargos may not have been either insured or listed on cargo manifests for security of transport or other reasons that are discussed in the Report. Research into the likely cargo of the RMS REPUBLIC has been based largely on public accounts available in newspapers and deductions based on shipments known to have been leaving New York at about the time of the RMS REPUBLIC's last voyage. The only direct evidence of the cargo and other property aboard the RMS REPUBLIC are the claims brought by passengers and shippers, including the Navy, against the S. S. FLORIDA seeking compensation for losses caused by the collision and sinking. See website "Other Cargos." Consequently, no one has yet definitively established that valuable cargo was in fact aboard the RMS REPUBLIC.
Captain Martin Bayerle has devoted the past 30 years to the study and research of events surrounding the 1909 sinking of the White Star Line's luxury steamship the RMS REPUBLIC and its reputed gold cargos. His efforts are compiled in his research Report, available at the Company’s website, that establishes the possibility of a face value $3 Million dollar gold shipment and other valuable cargo aboard the RMS REPUBLIC. Although based on primarily circumstantial evidence, the Company believes the Report is conclusive in substantiating the gold shipments. However, the Company has not to date been able to locate incontrovertible evidence that any gold cargos exist on the RMS REPUBLIC. This summary provides only a brief account of the research. You are encouraged to review the Company’s website in its entirety.
There is a possibility that the RMS REPUBLIC was carrying valuable cargo when it sailed from New York, including: (1) gold U.S. Eagle coins destined for the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet for payroll and operational expenses; (2) gold U.S. Eagle coins and gold bullion destined for Czarist Russia; (3) relief funds destined to Naples; (4) a silver ingot cargo; and (5) jewels and other passenger property.
Navy Payroll/Relief Shipment. It has always been rumored that a "treasure," a three million dollar face value shipment of American Gold Eagle coins, was lost aboard the RMS REPUBLIC. Probably because the RMS REPUBLIC was bound for Mediterranean ports and was known to be carrying at least food stores for the much publicized "Great White" American battleship fleet - then commencing the last leg from Gibraltar to Hampton Roads, Virginia of its round-the-world cruise - many believed the gold to be a Navy payroll, en route to the fleet. Others proposed that the monies on board were donations destined for survivors of a December, 1908, earthquake that had taken place in the Messina and Calabria areas of Italy. Newspaper accounts of the earthquake reported that over 100,000 people were killed and over 200,000 people were left homeless. The world-wide relief effort had indeed been generous. Many researchers pursued one or both of these gold shipment possibilities and were discouraged by the absence of supporting documentation for either theory. Although there is some evidence for a $250,000 to $350,000, 1909 value Navy gold shipment to the fleet for both payroll and operational expenses, and perhaps $10-20 thousand for earthquake relief, the legendary $3 Million dollar gold shipment cannot be supported by either the U. S. Navy or earthquake relief-effort records.
The Navy payroll and operational funds, with a face value of $265,000, would have a present gold value of approximately $8,281,000 based on a gold price of $625 per ounce. Collector value would be much, much greater.
Russian Gold. Captain Bayerle developed a new, third theory and provides in his research documentation to support that theory. The conclusions are drawn from, among other documents, hard financial statistics involving "gold engagements" and import-export figures relating to a politically sensitive 1909, $271 Million dollar international loan made to Czarist Russia. In his research, Captain Bayerle provides thorough explanations, including definitions, of the gold market and its workings of that era; he establishes the first credible scenario encompassing a need for the gold coins and their theoretical loading and consequent loss aboard the RMS REPUBLIC. His study of import-export activity for the eleven year period 1904 through 1914 produces a series of discrepancies in the data. These discrepancies and other facts uncovered by him indicate an apparent collaboration by five governments and eight financial institutions to conceal the loss of the RMS REPUBLIC's gold shipments - hence the inability to acquire a "smoking gun" document clearly substantiating the existence of the gold shipments. The motivation for the concealment appears to have been concern for the Russian loan, pre-World War I political and economic stability, and associated political alliances.
The shipment to Russia - via Russian warships then at Gibraltar - is believed to consist of a face value shipment of $3,000,000 in mint condition American Gold Eagle coins. The coin shipment represents 150,000 troy ounces of gold at the then-existing value of $20.00 per ounce. At the present gold price of approximately $625 per ounce, the coin shipment would have a gold ("melt down") value of approximately $93,750,000. Collector value of the coins would be much greater, and could exceed $5 billion.
Passenger Property. The RMS REPUBLIC's passengers included members of some of the wealthiest and most prominent families of the time, such as the Mellons of Pittsburgh, European nobility and some political figures. The RMS REPUBLIC was one of the most elegant ships of its age, and it is believed (based on newspaper accounts) that the passengers brought aboard a large amount of valuables, including jewelry and gold coins. Newspaper accounts further report that passengers rescued from the sinking luxury liner were forced to leave their belongings. It is also known, from existing court records, that $380,000 in claims were filed by passengers for lost items. Although itemizations of the vast majority of claims do not exist, it is estimated conservatively that one-fourth represents valuables (the larger portion comprising lost clothing and personal effects). This figure of $85,000 in 1909 dollars could be multiplied by at least a factor of thirty to reflect the increased value of gold and jewelry, and the collectors' value attributable to any items recovered from the RMS REPUBLIC. However, to the extent that such property was left in individual staterooms, rather than stored with the purser or other secure area, location and recovery of this property would prove difficult and, in some cases, prohibitively expensive. It is also likely that other property was lost and not included in the claims brought by passengers because they had personal insurance or did not bother in view of the limited recovery against the S. S. FLORIDA. See website "Other Cargos, Passenger Property."
Other Cargos. The possible existence and values of other cargos, including the earthquake-relief and silver ingot shipments, are discussed in detail within the Report. See website "Other Cargos".
PREVIOUS SALVAGE ATTEMPTS
At the time of her sinking, much was written about the possibility of salvaging the RMS REPUBLIC. Salvage experts emphasized the depth and the difficulty of the waters in which the RMS REPUBLIC lay, and discounted any hope of a successful salvage with the then available technology.
Why the Time is Now. The early salvage of the REPUBLIC had not been achieved because of three factors: 1. The technology did not exist. Captain Bayerle located the REPUBLIC in August of 1981 through the use of side-scan sonar technology - a technology developed and formerly restricted to governmental military anti-submarine warfare ("ASW") applications, but which had then only recently been made available to private industry. Additionally, the 1960s need for offshore oil exploration led to the development of the deep diving technology that, only since then, has made the safe recovery of the REPUBLIC's cargo possible; and 2. Captain Bayerle's development of the necessary facts that strongly indicate the actual existence of the REPUBLIC's legendary gold cargo. See website "Past Salvage."
LEGAL AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS.
Researchers and professionals who have had the opportunity to examine Captain Bayerle's Analysis Of The Cargo And Salvage Potential Of The R. M. S. REPUBLIC agree that it is by far the most in-depth and conclusive report of its kind. The Report, now published at the Company’s website, has also been provided to all parties involved in the specific January 12th, 1909 $3 million American gold eagle transaction - the transaction that Captain Bayerle and the Company believe to be aboard the R. M. S. REPUBLIC. To date, we have neither received a confirmation nor denial of the research conclusions from any of the involved parties, which includes Citibank (formerly National City Bank), Goldman, Sachs & Co., each member of the consortium of French banks (identified in the research - all of whom are still viable entities), as well as the U. S. Navy, French and Russian Governments. In 2001, the US Government filed a claim in the Company’s admiralty action for its loss of US Government monies. However, the US Government has specifically stated that its claim is based solely on “Mr. Bayerle’s good faith research”; the US Government has not, to date, provided any corroborating proof of its alleged ownership interest, or evidence supporting the existence of any gold cargo. See website “Legal Notices.”
You are invited to review the Company’s research in depth, at http://rms-republic.com/index1.html. Additional research is available to our investors through a password protected section of the website.
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Present numismatic value of coins is estimated to be between $400 and $500 million dollars, and could exceed $5 billion dollars.