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Copyright © 1987 U.P.I.
United Press InternationalSeptember 15, 1987, Tuesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 382 words
HEADLINE: Search for gold ends unsuccessfully
DATELINE: NANTUCKET, Mass.
Treasure hunters who gave up their search for a trove of gold coins estimated at up to $1.6 billion and believed aboard a sunken luxury liner off the Massachusetts coast say they plan to return to the wreck next June.
Inclement weather forced the salvagers to call off the search of the RMS Republic, said a spokesman for Sub-Ocean Salvors, the Tampa, Fla., group running the expedition.
''We were hoping to get some more time, but the strong autumn currents made salvaging too difficult,'' Michael Gerber said Monday.
The expedition began three months ago, with expectations running high that the gold would be recovered, but the group did not have the necessary information to locate the coins, said Gerber.
''We need to do more research and get more information about where the gold was kept,'' Gerber said.
He said continuing the expedition would require additional investments.
''If we have additional facts in place about the ship, and determine what method to use to go into (the) vessel, we'll probably be able to raise the money,'' he said.
Gerber said the group did not have a good plan of the lower deck, making a thorough search of that area difficult and ultimately contributing to the failure of the expedition.
''We were surprised by the enormity of the vessel. One diver described it as 'wandering around in a junkyard at night,''' said Gerber.
Although the gold was not found, the salvors did retrieve thousands of artifacts, including dozens of cases of wine, china, ashtrays, pots and pans, said Gerber.
The artifacts, worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars, will be auctioned, Gerber said.
He said there were about 10,000 to 15,000 salvagable vessels lying on ocean floors across the world, but the Republic was chosen because a great deal of research had already been done on the ship.
The Republic sank 55 miles off Nantucket Island Jan. 23, 1909, after colliding with the SS Florida, an Italian vessel. All but six people were rescued.
The Republic was rumored to be carrying $3.5 million in American gold eagle coins when it sank in 280 feet of water 14 hours after it left New York.
The gold coins -- worth between an estimated $400 million and $1.6 billion today -- were bound for czarist Russia as aid from the French government.