It's a storyline worthy of Titanic director James Cameron, but it has the added benefit of being true.
Treasure hunter Martin Bayerle’s decades long quest to retrieve billions in gold and silver that sunk with a sister ship of the Titanic more than a century ago has hit a fateful snag.
RMS Republic sank 50 miles off the coast of Nantucket in 1909 and that was end of her story until Bayerle located the White Star luxury liner in her 270-foot deep grave in 1981.
According to the Boston Herald, Bayerle sought and was eventually awarded the exclusive salvage rights to the wreck in 2005 by now retired U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner.
But the twist in the tale came when another judge scuttled his lawsuit last week against a maritime historian he believes holds blueprints to the ship and the keys to the success of his mission.
Last year Bayerle successfully won a court order against Thomas McCluskie of Northern Ireland to turn over the Republic’s plans, detailing every deck and compartment.
Until he suffered a stroke in 1997, McCluskie had been an archivist for Harland and Wolff, the legendary Belfast shipbuilders who built the Republic, as well as the Titanic.
But when McCluskie failed to submit the papers, Bayerle sued.
In an affidavit last year McCluskie said, 'I have absolutely no knowledge of the whereabouts or indeed the continued existence of the general arrangement drawings for the RMS Republic.' McCluskie added he believes the drawings 'were destroyed several years ago.'
Last Thursday, on the 104th anniversary of the Republic's sinking on January 24, 1909, after a collision with the Italian liner SS Florida, Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton dismissed Bayerle’s suit, stating 'it would be extremely difficult and costly' for McCluskie, who is in poor health, to travel to the US to defend himself.
Bayerle’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment by the Associated Press.
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