for billions: Captain seeks OK to salvage sunken liner’s
By Laurel J.
Thursday, July 7, 2005 - Updated: 08:23 AM EST
Martin Bayerle's ship is never going to come in.
Tuesday, the good captain is setting sail to find her - 50 miles
south of Nantucket and 270 feet down in some of the cruelest,
shark-infested waters of the North Atlantic.
the luxury liner RMS Republic has rested in pieces for nearly a
century, her memory kept alive by the legend that on Jan. 23, 1909,
she took to the bottom of the sea a cache of gold and silver that
today could be worth conservatively more than $1.6 billion, though
some estimates put it as high as $10 billion.
wreck has been shrouded in mystery from the day she sank,'' said
Bayerle, 54, who tomorrow morningFri will go before U.S. District
Court Judge Nancy Gertner in Boston and ask for the world-exclusive
salvage rights to what was once the flagship of the White Star
Line's Boston-European service.
though six people died, ``there was no official public inquest. You
can't even find construction plans for this vessel,'' said Bayerle,
president of Martha's Vineyard Scuba Headquarters, Inc. Bayerle
first located the Republic in 1981. The steamship foundered after a
collision with the Italian liner SS Florida in dense fog while en
route from New York to the Mediterranean.
Florida stayed afloat and more than 1,500 passengers and crew were
saved - the largest open-sea rescue in history.
the past 30years, the Republic has been Bayerle's 15,378-ton siren -
in particular, its rumored treasure consisting of U.S. Navy payroll,
newly minted American Gold Eagle coins bound for Czar Nicholas II of
Russia, 15 tons of gold bars and several more tons of silver.
if Bayerle strikes gold, his attorney, Timothy D. Barrow, said it
could be ``the greatest treasure recovery of all time.''
Barrow is also asking Gertner to issue a restraining order of sorts
that would prevent both competitors and governments from meddling
with Bayerle's recovery efforts through 2008.
they declined to pinpoint exactly where in the 570-foot-long
steamship the treasure is believed to be stockpiled, Bayerle and
Barrow said the search area has been narrowed down to ``the most
heavily damaged section of the wreck.''
The most dangerous, too,comparable to foraging inside a collapsed 80-story skyscraper. Think New York's Chrysler Building reduced to a pancake.
``And we'll be looking in the basement,'' Bayerle said.
Next week's expedition, a 17-hour trip from Long Island, is a dry run to set the stage for next summer's go-for-the-gold salvage operation. Bayerle said it could take up to four years just to find the treasure, let alone raise it to the surface.
And however the final chapter of this enduring mystery ends, Bayerle said he won't be going off the deep end.
``The wreck has sort of dragged me along with it,'' Bayerle said. ``If there's nothing there, then I'll be satisfied there's nothing there, but it will have been an interesting ride.''
Eagle coins valued at $3 million in 1909. (Herald File
In the spring of 1988, Al
Leiter was a starry-eyed kid from New Jersey who earned
a spot in the Yank... [more]