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COPYRIGHT 1999 Mirror Group Newspapers

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Tuesday, May 18, 1999, p13

LENGTH: 293 words

HEADLINE: STEVEN MOORE delves into the News Letter archives and discovers some of the items that made headlines on this date earlier this century. These articles will run daily until the year 2000.



1985: Golden Mystery [Reward Offered]

An international hunt for a fortune in lost gold has blazed a trail into the back streets of Belfast.

The gold, worth pounds 170 million pounds is lying in the wreck of the Belfast-built liner Republic, which sank off the American coast in 1909 with all hands on board.

When it went down on January 24, the 15,000-ton Republic was carrying a secret cargo - three million dollars in US gold Eagles - from New York to France to foot a Czarist Russian bond issue.

It was part of a repayment for an international loan to America and had been locked in the ship's strong room.

The Republic was located by the American salvage company, Maritime Analysts in Massachusetts, in 1981, but it was not until after the salvage rights were granted by a US District Court in Boston two years ago that the secret cargo was revealed.

Yesterday the company confirmed it is offering a pounds 25,000 reward for information to help locate the ship's strong room.

The 585 ft long ship, with its fortune, is lying 260 ft under the Atlantic, 50 miles from Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts.

Yesterday, salvage company director Martin Bayerle said: "We have confirmed the gold in the wreck but don't [sic, know] where it is on the ship. The plans were destroyed in a bombing raid on Harland & Wolff during World War II.

"We believe that somebody in Northern Ireland may still know where the strong room is.

"Sometimes people who worked on ships in those days brought copies of the plans home.

"It could be lying in someone's attic or someone may have old documents."

Most of the crew on the Republic were Irish and many have been traced to Belfast and Liverpool.

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