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Copyright © 1985 The Associated Press

The Associated Press

April 8, 1985, Monday, AM cycle

SECTION: Domestic News

LENGTH: 298 words


   A Martha's Vineyard treasure hunter says he will set sail this summer in search of a sunken steamer that he believes holds more than $50 million in gold.

Martin Bayerle, 33, said the 589-foot liner R.M.S. Republic _ owned by White Star, the same company that owned the Titanic _ went down in 235 feet of water 60 miles from the Nantucket Island shoals on Jan. 23, 1909.

Within the wreck, he hopes to find U.S. Gold Eagle coins worth $50 million to $60 million in today's bullion values and many millions more to coin collectors. Bayerle said he believes the gold was intended to help finance a military buildup in czarist Russia.

However, Bayerle admitted he knows little about the wreck, including who was aboard or whether there were survivors.

"It's a mystery cargo," he said.

Earlier this year, Bayerle said, research showed that $3 million in gold was loaned by two New York brokerage houses only a week before the Republic sailed.

"The records strongly indicate only one unaccounted-for gold loss of this size in an 11-year period. It's also clear that the shipment never arrived at its intended destination," he said.

Bayerle said he still is seeking information about the wreck from the U.S., Soviet, British and French governments, and that he plans to place ads in British papers this summer to find blueprints of the doomed ship.

He said he has asked Soviet authorities for help in confirming the location of the Republic's rumored cargo but has had little success.

The lack of official information hasn't discouraged him from pressing forward with plans to salvage the wreck this summer with a six-man diving team and two diving bells.

"The ship is resting on its starboard side," he said. "The stern is upright. It's one of the most intact wrecks I've seen."

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