Recovery efforts planned for cargo lost in RMS 'Republic' wreckage
- Published: Jan 7, 2024, 12 PM
Principals in the Lords of Fortune LLC — a shipwreck recovery company — are counting on being able to begin recovery in June of nearly $10 billion in cargo from the sunken RMS Republic off the coast of Massachusetts.
The RMS Republic foundered Jan. 24, 1909, as a result of a collision the morning before in a dense fog 50 miles south of Nantucket Island, when the Republic was struck at midship portside by the Lloyd Italiano line’s SS Florida.
The RMS Republic was a steam-powered ocean liner originally built in 1903 by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland, for the International Mercantile Marine’s Dominion Line, a sister company to the White Star Line. Launched on its maiden voyage Feb. 26, 1903, as the Columbus, from Liverpool, England to Boston, Massachusetts, after two voyages, the Columbus was sold to the White Star Line and renamed Republic.
The start of the recovery efforts is contingent upon being able to raise a minimum of $7.5 million in investment seed money to help finance location of the gold within the sunken wreckage.
According to the LordsofFortune.com website, the website “was designed as an accredited investor sourcing vehicle to finance LoF’s salvage of the RMS Republic. The company maintains an exclusive license to salvage the RMS Republic from the ship’s and cargoes’ owner (See the Offering Memorandum for this project for a complete and detailed discussion).”
Lords of Fortune LLC was granted ownership rights to the Republic’s cargo in 2011 by a federal court in Boston.
Updated research on the valuable cargo the vessel — dubbed the “Millionaires’ Ship” because of the number of wealthy American passengers aboard — represents multiples in value of the cargo the Republic was rumored for decades to have been carrying until newly released research debunked those rumors.
Capt. Martin Bayerle, managing member for the Miami Beach Florida-based Lords of Fortune LLC, is author of The Tsar’s Treasure: The Sunken White Star Liner With A Billion Dollar Secret, which details his 40+ years of research concerning the RMS Republic and its cargoes.
Bayerle’s research has determined that the Republic’s cargo comprises “the Tsar’s Treasure [of Nicholas II] ($25 million 1909 value, 45 tons of new minted American gold eagle coins); an $800,000 U.S. Navy payroll and monthly operational expense for the U.S. Great White Fleet (8 tons of mixed coin); the personal effects of her several hundred millionaire passengers (cash, diamonds, jewelry); and shipments by other French banks to support a $240 million 1909 bond issue, the ‘conversion loan’ to repay the Tsar’s Russo-Japanese 1904 $150 million war debt which was coming due in May, 1909, and to meet the Tsar’s 1909 budget.
“From what we’ve documented so far, the total anticipated recovery from RMS Republic is expected to easily exceed $10 billion current value,” says Bayerle.
The Russian cargo belonged to Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia.
“The loss of this vast treasure jeopardized the financial and political survival of the Imperial Russian government,” says Bayerle. “If the loss had been acknowledged, it would have jeopardized investor confidence in the 1909 bond issue. If that bond issue were not successful, Russia would have been unable to repay its 1904 loan coming due. A payment default would have had serious consequences.
“The Tsar’s Government, already under a significant strain from its defeat in its war with Japan and a consequent 1905 revolution attempt, would have collapsed in 1909, eight years earlier than the 1917 Bolshevik revolution which ultimately overthrew Tsar Nicholas II’s regime. Russia, Britain, the United States, and particularly the French had the political necessity to maintain the Tsar in power, to allow the Tsarist government to repay its huge foreign debt and to act as a deterrent to German expansionism.
“World stability was at risk in this tinderbox pre-World War I era. Hence, the lack of any official inquiry into the loss of the largest ship in history lost to that time. Republic was only replaced in that ignominious role by White Star Line’s other unsinkable ship Titanic, just three years later. If an inquiry had been held, the issues of bulkhead construction, adequacy of lifeboats, monitoring of wireless telegraphy — all factors which contributed to Titanic, would have been addressed and perhaps the Titanic tragedy could have been avoided. The result? The concealment of the loss not only suppressed a legally required British Board of Trade inquiry, but also produced an extraordinary void in the archives of four nations, Britain, France, the United States and Russia — deletion after deletion regarding anything Republic-related provided only hints of some vanished enormity.”
In the Lords of Fortune LLC’s more than 10 years of litigation with the U.S. government in which the government laid claim to all of the gold aboard the Republic, Bayerle explains “In addition to the U.S. Navy cargo, the U.S. government ended up with a subrogated interest to the Tsarist gold.
“When the Bolsheviks repudiated Tsarist debt in 1918, the U.S. government bailed out the New York banks and investors who had purchased Tsarist bonds; the ownership then fell to them,” according to Bayerle. “The problem for the U.S. government is that, shortly after they had recognized the Soviet Union in 1933, they then paid themselves from seized Tsarist assets, assets which the U.S. government had frozen in 1918. So, the U.S. government couldn’t double dip into Republic’s gold.”
The U.S. government’s claim has since been dismissed with prejudice and, in 2011, Lords of Fortune LLC was awarded legal title to the wreck and all of her cargoes by the U.S. District Court in Boston. All future claims were also barred by the court.
“The difficulty in recovering Republic’s cargoes was not finding the wreck, nor the decades of legal battles, nor will it be recovering her cargoes; the technology today to accomplish that, although expensive, readily exists. The greatest difficulty was piercing the government cover-up of the loss, a necessary cover-up at the time in order to maintain peace and world stability,” said Bayerle.
The next step is to remove several thousand tons of collapsed decks and debris on top of where he believes the gold to be. “A minimum of $7.5 million is needed to reach the gold chamber. The total expense is expected to fall in the range of $20-25 million. But once gold is seen, on a $10 billion+ cargo, we can debt finance any amount needed to complete the recovery,” he said.
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