"The knowledge that a secret exists is half of the secret." Joshua Meyrowitz
Capt. Bayerle was referred to as a "modern day pirate" (in the complimentary sense) by Judge Nancy Gertner of the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts in a 2005 opinion granting exclusive salvage rights to the Republic to MVSHQ.
"She was one of the elite luxury liners of her day, known as the `Millionaires´ Ship´ for all the wealthy and prominent figures she carried." The Tsar's Treasure
"Shipwreck may hold $1.6 Billion." Los Angeles Times
"[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is." Sir Winston Churchill
"Several billion dollars in gold may lie in 270 feet of water about 50 miles south of Nantucket, and it all belongs to Martin Bayerle." The Martha's Vineyard Times
"Republic was the largest and most technologically advanced vessel lost at sea in history to her time." The Tsar's Treasure
"[Captain Bayerle's] Fishing off Nantucket for Ship, History and $1.6B" The Boston Globe
"A `Palatial' Steamer. The new twin-screw steamer 'Republic' 15,400 tons ... will stand comparison with anything afloat for the excellence, comeliness, and comfort of passenger accommodation. The 'Republic' is a vessel which calls for distinct mention among many notable craft." White Star Line booklet, circa 1908
"Almost immediately upon Republic's sinking came rumors, rumors of a lost treasure that was aboard her. A treasure of over $3 million in gold coins, a treasure that today, may be worth well over a billion dollars." The Tsar's Treasure
"A billion dollar treasure: The answer is waiting off Nantucket." The Martha's Vineyard Times
"Capt. Bayerle has written what must be among the best researched and tantalizing adventure narratives in quite some time... I applaud his ability to fuse history with death-defying deep sea exploration." Robert Cembrola, Maritime Archeologist and Director of the Naval War College Museum
To participate in the salvaging of the RMS Republic, we have prepared three very unique Sponsorship opportunities. Paired with the technical information of the salvage itself, we have inserted our own unique marketing ideas for the project as a whole. Selected sponsors will be free to tailor the individual sponsorship options as they see fit, as long as they continue to co-align with the overall mission and direction of MVSHQ, Inc. A more detailed budget will be provided once the Sponsor and Etoile Blanc Consulting are engaged in discussions.
Brief Overview of Operations
The wreck of RMS Republic lies upright approximately 50 miles south of the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts in 270-feet of water. An analogy to describe the condition of the wreck would be a 60-story skyscraper toppling on its side and deteriorating for 100 years more than 250-ft below the north-Atlantic. Although the wreck is relatively shallow in depth, the ocean conditions limit the salvage window to the New England summer months, generally late-June to early-September. Even during prime surface conditions, divers often fight a steady current and work in low-visibility settings, as the wreck lies in an underwater trough and is covered in an abundance of marine life.
At these depths, recreational divers running on “tri-mix” (tanks) generally only have 15-20 minutes of “bottom time” before they must begin their ascent and 90-minute decompression. With such limitations, any significant work on the wreck must be performed utilizing a saturation diving system. Under a sat system, divers live in a pressurized environment on board the Diving Support Vessel (“DSV”). This pressurized environment keeps their constant pressure equal to the water pressure in which they work at depth. Divers are transported from the saturation chambers to the work area using a pressurized diving bell, and wear helmets that are connected via hoses to an air generator on the surface. Once they reach the wreck, one diver generally stays in the bell to communicate topside and instruct the other divers and crane operators in their work. Divers can work underwater this way in continuous 8-10 hours shifts.
The divers use underwater torches to cut away pieces of the wreck (although small explosives may also be used for larger portions). The DSV crane grab then brings portions of the wreck topside to drop on the deck of the ship, which can be examined and later deposited a few hundred feet from the wreck. Divers also have containers for precious artifacts that once discovered can be brought to the surface to begin the preservation process.
The DSV also has a Remote Operated Vehicle (“ROV”) which can be used to explore portions of the wreck. The ROV has lights and cameras and is directed via controls (joystick configuration) from the observation trailer on the ship, sending back a live video feed. The ROV can identify target areas and capture a general overview of the condition and placement of the wreck.
As you can see, the salvage operation requires fascinating diving technology using only state-of-the-art equipment. Once the gold chamber is breached, each individual coin will be handpicked, catalogued, and tagged once it is brought to the surface. From there, a “runner” boat will be used to transport coins and artifacts to a confidential and secure on-shore preservation facility, where the coins will be cleaned and graded by a selected team of numismatists.
There are many different opportunities for Sponsorship in the recovery expedition. We’ve outlined what we feel are the three primary options below.
To garner international attention and build hype, we will throw a massive, Sponsor and pirate-themed pre-launch party. We may wish to rent a property during the summer months to serve as a base of operations and house for executives, which could also be used for the exclusive event. Alternatively, we can select a venue and bring in performers and sell tickets to the public to introduce the project and kick off operations. The camera crew can obtain plenty of great footage to include in the Sponsor’s marketing efforts, and/or to be featured at the beginning of the documentary capturing the expedition.
Option 1: Contract a Third Party Salvage Company
Under this approach, MVSHQ and the Sponsor will contract a commercial diving company and lease all the necessary equipment for the recovery operation. Based on a 2013 projected budget, we estimate the costs of this approach to be around $7-9 million per season for two consecutive seasons. This allows the company to conduct recovery operations on-site for approximately a 50-day period per season. Based on discussions with a commercial salvage company who created a detailed budget, we are confident that we will be able accomplish our objectives and breach the gold chamber within this period. The detailed budget is available upon request (and once prospective Sponsor is bound under confidentiality).
Through this first option, the Sponsor will be the exclusive Sponsor of the entire expedition. There will be berths available on the salvage vessel for a film production team the Sponsor selects. The Sponsor will also be able to “accessorize” the vessel and crew, with patches on crew jerseys and expedition hats. If we choose to syndicate the documentary, the footage will be “brought to you by the Sponsor.” The Sponsor may also be able to customize diver helmets and wetsuits and fly the Sponsor’s flag from the Diving Support Vessel. The Sponsor will be able to fly a helicopter directly out to the DSV and back to transfer executives (with the assumption we lease a DSV with heli-pad).
Option 2: Purchase/Lease of the Necessary Equipment
Example of Diving Support Vessel to Conduct Operations
As an alternative to contracting out the entire salvage operations, the Sponsor can purchase its own Diving Support Vessel and hire its own divers and personnel. This option would provide the greatest flexibility for marketing planning and events. This option would also provide the company with an asset that then could be used to work on locating and salvaging other shipwrecks of interest, or sold on the market once the Republic project has been completed.
The DSV could be modified in true sponsorship fashion: painting the ship with the Sponsor’s signature logo, painting the logo prominently on the helipad, and even purchasing the Sponsor’s own ROV which, again, can be used with the DSV to explore other wrecks and projects. The Sponsor can also select names both for the DSV and ROV of its own choosing, and fly their own flag high and true from the wreck itself.
The image listed at the beginning of this section represents the type of DSV that would be ideal for performing the work (though the one pictured is currently listed for charter, not for sale). The ship shown comes equipped with a 12-man saturation diving system, 3-man diving bell, dual cranes, ROV station, helipad, dynamic positioning system (necessary to remain stable over the wreck), and capacity for 80 men.
Diving Support Vessels can be acquired over a wide price spectrum. Some used DSV’s that would be capable of performing this job can be had for as little $25 million, while large custom DSV’s can be exceed $80 million. Divers and crew personnel can also be hired on a temporary or full-time basis, or contracted through a diving company.
Through this second option, MVSHQ will grant the Sponsor’s salvage entity an exclusive contract to salvage Republic over 2-3 seasons, as well as rights to use expedition footage and photos in for its own marketing purposes. The Sponsor can mount a plethora of cameras all over the ship, and have state-of-the-art cameras on the ROV to capture action over 24 hours. They can reserve berths for executives or special guests that can be flown to the site to observe and participate in operations and artifact retrieval.
Option 3: Offshore Jack-up Rig
Some companies have chosen to build a reputation on hosting bold and adventurous events while putting the world on notice. This last option may be the boldest of them all, and would accomplish something that has never been done before in history. In lieu of using a Diving Support Vessel to perform the salvage work (as would be typical), we will acquire an offshore jack-up oil rig platform and modify it with all the functional requirements to do the job. Never before has an offshore jack-up rig been used to salvage a shipwreck, yet this may prove to be the most safe, efficient, and economical option when all variables are considered. There has been a jack-up rig converted into a dive resort in Malaysia, proving that the non-oil-related recreational use works. Aside from setting a historical precedent, it would also have extreme marketing potential and be a hell of a lot of fun.
A jack-up oil rig is a new breed of offshore oil rigs. It is a mobile unit, generally having 3 legs that extend down to the ocean floor. The platform can be raised or lowered, and the rig can be moved from location to location using tugs (the rig platform itself floats). Jack-up rigs can generally be used at ocean depths up to 400 feet (the Republic wreck lies about 270-ft). These rigs are also highly customizable, with room on the platform for placing dual cranes, a saturation diving habitat, dive bell, lodging for personnel, as well as ample deck space.
The appeal of the jack-up rig is that it can remain on site year-round and will extend the “salvage” season in the north-Atlantic by a significant margin. When on the rig, the work performed on-site is essentially no longer mandated by small changes the weather. The rig can even be raised safely above hurricane swells, should a storm move up the coast.
With a jack-up rig, we can have an initial preservation facility on-site, and can begin cleaning, cataloguing, and grading coins and artifacts as soon as they are pulled to the surface. It also makes transport via helicopter or other ocean vessels much easier and safer than landing on a DSV (although in calm weather, the DSV is a very stable platform).
A used jack-up rig platform generally sells in the range of $40-60 million. The rig itself would be stripped of (or not fitted with) any drilling equipment thus lowering the price. Variable costs include transport and modification (depending on the model and location). We would also lease the saturation salvage equipment, including the saturation chambers, diving bell, ROV and trailer, on a year-to-year basis. Most of the equipment would likely be transported from the Gulf of Mexico. It may be possible to lease the platform for a number of years as well.
The Sponsor’s Own Marketing Country
Aside from the operational efficiency, the marketing potential for having a jack-up rig over the site is enormous. The stable platform will be much more conducive to visiting executives and guests, and the private launch party can take place on the rig itself. But perhaps most importantly, the Sponsor will have the unique marketing opportunity to establish its own sovereign nation, taking a page out of the country of Sealand’s playbook. Having researched the requirements for such a feat, we are confident this strategy is possible and meets all legal requirements of both US and international law. Keeping in mind this will be for marketing purposes only, this can surely be a large success for media purposes.
As proclaiming to be its own sovereign country, the Sponsor can establish its own Royal Palace, issue its own currency (which could be linked to the U.S. Dollar), can create its own flag, postage stamps, passports, medals, and national anthem (perhaps AC/DC might be a good consideration), and national motto. It can assign nobility titles (e.g. Dukes, Counts, Barons, and Knights). It can even have its own athletes compete in the 2016 Olympics. There are no limitations. Needless to say, the marketing impact of this undertaking would attract world-wide attention on its own and capture the imaginations of hundreds of millions. They will be asking, what can’t the Sponsor do? The event will be talked about for many years to come. An opportunity to perform these tasks, and be able to combine it into one huge marketing campaign and adventure, will never happen again. This can truly take any brand to the next level.