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Copyright © 1985 The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe

August 26, 1985, Monday


LENGTH: 300 words



SOURCE: United Press International


FAIRHAVEN - Deep sea divers today planned last-minute preparations before leaving to explore a sunken luxury liner believed laden with gold coins and international intrigue.

"This is the type of adventure very few people can instigate," said Martin Bayerle of Martha's Vineyard, head of the company that holds salvage rights to the 15,000-ton SS Republic off Nantucket Island. The expedition climaxes 10 years of research on the Republic, which sank in 1909 after a collision with the Florida, an Italian-registered ship carrying 850 immigrants from Naples to New York.

Bayerle said he will send two robot-operated vehicles 260 feet deep to the wreck site and use underwater cameras and lights for a 10-day survey to "give us a better idea of the hazards to expect" during the actual salvage next summer. He also hopes the survey will reveal the location of a cache of American gold eagle coins worth as much as $1.6 billion, Bayerle said.

Bayerle planned to finish loading equipment today and cast off by 8 p.m. from Lyndberg Marine here.

Bayerle, 34, is financing the venture through his mail order diving business.

A former New Yorker, he located the wreck in 1981 and secured the salvage rights in 1983 after dives provided proof of its identity.

Bayerle said he concluded from researching the cargo that the French government had purchased $3 million in American gold eagle coins as part of a loan to Russia's Czar Nicholas II to improve his country's military and railroads.

Bayerle said officials denied there was gold aboard the ship at the time of the disaster, and certain documents were missing from the Republic, including its blueprints and cargo manifest.

"Since this money was intended for Russia, revelations of its loss would have had enormous implications in pre-World War I Europe," Bayerle said.

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