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Pirates caught


This from todays London Times

BRITISH salvage experts have been secretly involved in an unauthorised mission to take priceless artefacts from the Titanic. The leaders of the rogue voyage, codenamed Bluelight, had close links to the company that holds a legal duty to prevent the vessel from being plundered by pirates, The Times has learnt.

The expedition to the world’s most famous shipwreck has provoked allegations of duplicity, illegality and chicanery on the high seas. A file of documents detailing the trip, which quietly left Hull 18 months ago and returned to Liverpool two months later, was delivered this week to an American federal court in Norfolk, Virginia.
 
The papers reveal that the survey ship Northern Horizon braved the waters of the North Atlantic, where the Titanic lies 2½ miles down, at a time of year normally considered too dangerous for operations.

Court documents reveal that on board were some of the world’s most experienced marine treasure hunters, equipped with an Abyssub remote operated vehicle.

It had been fitted with robot arms capable of reaching for goods inside the first-class cargo hold, whose contents are worth hundreds
of millions of pounds. Nobody knows what, if any, artefacts were retrieved but the story of intrigue behind the voyage is a tale worthy of the numerous legends surrounding “the ship that couldn’t sink”.

In 1994 a company called RMS Titanic was given exclusive rights to retrieve goods from the liner and was the only salvage operator permitted to operate on the wreck. Its dives have recovered more than 6,000 items whose combined value is conservatively estimated at £40 million.

However the company’s profitability, to the frustration of its directors and major shareholders, has been hit by a court ruling that barred it from selling any of the items. The company could only make money by leasing the relics to exhibitions, but was under an obligation to make regular visits to the site.

In 1999, after boardroom coup by shareholders from the entertainment industry, the company tried to challenge the court decision. “We all know there are billions of dollars down there under the water. It’s like sitting on a goldmine,” said Joe Marsh, a former concert promoter who is the company’s major shareholder, in 1999.

After unsuccessfully fighting a series of legal battles for the right to sell its possessions, the board surprisingly passed a resolution in September 2002 under which it would have voluntarily surrendered its exclusive rights to the wreck. When the decision was announced publicly, it was expected to trigger a gold rush by competing salvage operators.

The first company to retrieve artefacts would be able to stake a claim to the exclusive salvage rights, unhindered by the prohibition against selling which had crippled RMS Titanic. This appears to have been the reason for the secret trip. However, in the event the mission appears
to have been unsuccessful and ended in the seizure of their ship.

Bill Willard, an RMS Titanic shareholder who has compiled the dossier about the secret mission has now brought it to the attention of the American courts. He said: “The timing of this rogue expedition is too coincidental with RMS Titanic’s . . . announcement that it planned to relinquish salvor-in-possession status.

“Had the court allowed the company to reliquish said status on that day, a group planned, staffed and financed by company insiders was on site . . . with the confirmed objective of recovering artefacts.”

But if this was the plan, it all went wrong when the US authorities told RMS Titanic that it had no right to give up its status as
salvor-in-posession — which the court viewed as its main asset — without putting the decision to shareholders.

The meeting was never held, the rights were not surrendered and in December 2002 the Northern Horizon slipped unnoticed into Liverpool. Until today, the story of the rogue mission has never been told.

Arnie Geller, the $330,000-a-year president of RMS Titanic, has denied any involvement by his company in the expedition. He claimed this week to have spent “tens of thousands of dollars” in a vain attempt to establish whether it took place and who was involved.

“We were only made aware of it as a rumour, but we went to great extremes to verify whether or not it did take place. To our knowledge we found no proof that it did,” he said. Mr Geller said he knew the names of only two people rumoured to have been involved and refused to say who they were. “When I confronted them, they told me it wasn’t true,” he said.

The president’s investigation somehow failed to discover that the leaders of the expediton were a Yorkshireman, Graham Jessop, a former salvage master of RMS Titanic, and Dik Barton, from Cumbria, a former British soldier who until May 2002 was the company’s vice president and director of operations. David Hill, who handled the mission’s financial planning, was until May 2002 the consultant in investor
relations.

Mr Hill, a personal friend of Mr Geller, is a disbarred lawyer who was jailed for four months in 1985 after pleading guilty to money
laundering.

The ship’s captain, Mr Goodyear, from Penistone, South Yorkshire, worked until April 2002 for a wholly-owned subsiduary of RMS Titanic. He told The Times this week that Mr Geller must have known about the expedition. Asked why he thought Mr Geller had claimed to have no knowledge of the trip, he said it was “probably because he didn’t want to get himself into trouble”.

He said: “If anyone, anywhere to do with the Titanic is on thin ice, it would be Arnie Geller.” Mr Goodyear said that those involved in the 2002 voyage had received legal advice that they were doing nothing illegal.

According to the documents lodged with the court, a sailor who was part of the crew has claimed that “we brought some good stuff up”, but one of the papers describes the mission as “unfruitful”.

Mr Barton was unwilling to discuss what he described as “a private, commercial event” and Mr Jessop has not responded to requests for an interview. Mr Hill claimed ignorance of the expedition.

Resting undisturbed in the first-class cargo hold are the prized possessions of society’s Edwardian elite:

A unique early 20th century copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam known as the Great Omar and valued at more than £1 million. Encased in a carved oak basket and en route to a New York dealer, the book’s binding was encrusted with 1,050 jewels and finished in 100 sq ft of gold leaf. It took two years to make and the cover featured rubies, amethysts and emeralds.

A rumoured shipment of diamonds which was being carried by two brothers from Switzerland to New York, worth £170 million

A red, 25-horsepower 1912 Renault touring car which was being shipped home by Billy Carter, a wealthy Philadelphia socialite travelling with his wife, two children, a maid, a chauffeur and 24 polo sticks. He
later made a $5,000 insurance claim for his lost car. An early Bugatti is also supposed to have been loaded in the hold

The ship’s safes, several purser’s bags and their contents. One, stuffed with cash and jewellery, was recovered on an earlier expedition and is now one of the Titanic exhibits

Seventy-six cases of champagne and 50 cases of wine. Some bottles have previously been recovered

Possibly an amount of gold and silver bullion in the specie room in the bow

Tiffany’s had a case of china, and silver and gold goods aboard.

The American Express Corporation loaded 25 cases of merchandise The contents of Captain Edward J. Smith’s cabin, complete with his
bathtub.

And, according to RMS Titanic, the British Museum asked them to look out for a prototype helicopter which was on its way to America, and provided drawings to recognise it
May/1/2004, 3:24 pm Link to this post Send Email to Teamtunafish   Send PM to Teamtunafish ICQ AIM MSN Yahoo Blog
 
wills Profile
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Re: Pirates caught


wow...
that is quite a story...
i cannot imagine why anyone would want to harm [sign in to see URL] is wrong.. of course i have always said that they should not have had any savlvaging rights granted in the first place i knew it spelt trouble but people dont listen.

it is sad when lack of respect comes into play here.. and that is exactly what is happening. people are only in it for the money...
it is wrong..

i am glad they were caught though serves them right for stealing from titanic the very things that make her speacial. her personal effects from her passengers.
that is wrong..
thanks teamtunafish for posting the story.. it is quite a story indeed.
please keep us posted on anything that developes from this.

wills

---
Suicide is a permenant solution to a temporay problem........

Whatever obstacles control,
Go on, true heart,
thou'lt reach the goal.


http://com4.runboard.com/bthetitanicshack
wills~~~~~
May/1/2004, 11:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to wills   Send PM to wills Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


Yes, ttf thankyou for sharing that. How shameful that people have no respect for the people who lost thier lives on titanic. Salvage rights has been an ongoing issue since they found the ship in '85, now they are finally seeing how much damage it can cause and the complete lack of respect for it. It all boils down to money hungry people with only self interest. It is sad, but its the way it is, they will never see that as what it is ( a grave site). Too sad indeed.

---
"I have been here a week, chiefly occupied trying to find my way about the big omnibus"-James Paul Moody, RMS Titanic 1912

"Nobody is worth crying over, and the one who is will never make you cry"-Me
May/2/2004, 9:54 am Link to this post Send Email to titanicangel06   Send PM to titanicangel06 AIM MSN Yahoo Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


well said ta06. well said.
i could not agree with you more on that one.

this kind of falls under the catogory that we were disgussing the other day.

lack of respect and money..
anyway thanks again ttf for sharing the story with us.


wills

---
Suicide is a permenant solution to a temporay problem........

Whatever obstacles control,
Go on, true heart,
thou'lt reach the goal.


http://com4.runboard.com/bthetitanicshack
wills~~~~~
May/2/2004, 10:32 pm Link to this post Send Email to wills   Send PM to wills Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


yep unfortunately its all too common though. Happens everyday. Its going to keep happening until the govts declare titanic an official grave yard. It has yet to happen, so there really is no drawing a line between ethical salvage and unethical salvage, it seems to be more of a free for all, in the eyes of the exploration and salvage communities.

---
"I have been here a week, chiefly occupied trying to find my way about the big omnibus"-James Paul Moody, RMS Titanic 1912

"Nobody is worth crying over, and the one who is will never make you cry"-Me
May/2/2004, 10:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to titanicangel06   Send PM to titanicangel06 AIM MSN Yahoo Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


im afraid you are right on the money here.

the grey area is definately bigger than the white or black area.

too bad too .

wills

---
Suicide is a permenant solution to a temporay problem........

Whatever obstacles control,
Go on, true heart,
thou'lt reach the goal.


http://com4.runboard.com/bthetitanicshack
wills~~~~~
May/2/2004, 11:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to wills   Send PM to wills Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


I'm rather pleased they got the %$#@*&#s. Let's here it for some excellent police work on the part of all the investagatory agencies involved!
May/3/2004, 7:09 pm Link to this post Send Email to Teamtunafish   Send PM to Teamtunafish ICQ AIM MSN Yahoo Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


HI All

I am so pleased they have got them but it is a rather strange fact that they seem not to be able to report very good. Is it just me or is there a lot of rather silly mistakes in the report spottable by a amature let alone a pro. Or even a student of titanic.

It seems a bit like the reports I have been reading while down south hear about certain inderviduals on the titanic that did not make so much sence when I was reading before but now for some reason stands out as rather intriguing.

I will be back in two days so see you all then

Graham

---
Why dont people do what they say nowadays http://www.freewebs.com/hms-kellington/
http://www.freewebs.com/graham7760/index.htm
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May/3/2004, 9:48 pm Link to this post Send Email to graham 01   Send PM to graham 01 Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


hi graham.

you know now that you have mentioned it
there does seem tobe a few things wrong there. hmmm.

you are right on all accounts.

wills

---
Suicide is a permenant solution to a temporay problem........

Whatever obstacles control,
Go on, true heart,
thou'lt reach the goal.


http://com4.runboard.com/bthetitanicshack
wills~~~~~
May/3/2004, 10:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to wills   Send PM to wills Blog
 
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Re: Pirates caught


hi graham.

by the way how are things going in the south.

hope you are taking notes cause i want to hear all about it. lol

have a great time and we will catch you on the flipside of tuesday.

wills

---
Suicide is a permenant solution to a temporay problem........

Whatever obstacles control,
Go on, true heart,
thou'lt reach the goal.


http://com4.runboard.com/bthetitanicshack
wills~~~~~
May/3/2004, 10:51 pm Link to this post Send Email to wills   Send PM to wills Blog
 


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