The SS Islander Story rolls on and on......

From White Horse to Skagway's a hell of a long way.....

Pokes containing gold dust and nuggets were found during the Labor day weekend 2012 - a chest containing leather bags, weighing about 200 ounces each - 1,200 ounces in total.

Is this all there is?

Ted Jaynes in his 1970s InterSub days - Zodiac driver and Photographer with the French submarine company.

Debate rolls on as to whether the ship was actually carrying the gold bullion and gold ore in concentrate as claimed by Ted Jaynes of OceanMar.

Jaynes has been searching for the elusive cargo for nigh on a quarter of a century.....

He claims to know where the gold is......

But....all that glistens is not gold.....

In a 2007 filing, Ocean Mar said its research had indicated that at least six tons of gold bullion in 25 to 30 wooden boxes was stored in a passenger cabin. It also said it had found what it believed to be bullion boxes near shore, no deeper tha, n 200 feet........But what was initially thought to be boxes of bullion during dives at the site that year turned out to be "glacial boulders having the same or similar size and shape of bullion boxes," according to another court filing.

"We spent a great deal of time inshore, searching for the elusive gold bars that Jaynes claimed to have seen on previous expeditions. But on closer inspection, it was revealed that the 'glinting' gold, was in fact, nothing but yellowish marine algae...."

THE DETROIT FREE PRESS, Michigan, August 19, 1901


Such are the potential perils of the inland passage of the Pacific Coast that the findings of the Court of Inquiry into her sinking stated that the Islander was in thoroughly seaworthy condition when she left Skagway on the evening of August 14, 1901. She was a total wreck eight hours later, resting in 110 metres of water after striking drifting ice near Juneau, Alaska. In total, 40 lives were lost.

Following the accident, the Vancouver Daily World reported that after striking the ice, the evacuation effort was calm and collected and the Islander's officers and crew "acquitted themselves nobly of their duty". Upon recovery of the victims' bodies, the inquest in Juneau concluded that the deaths were accidental, with no one at fault.


The subsequent official inquiry may well have reached similar conclusions had not new information been uncovered by a diligent King's Council. The Commission of Inquiry began in Victoria on Wednesday September 4, 1901 and initially the witnesses were mainly crew members whom the commission refused to allow to be cross-examined. The Commission recessed at lunch on Friday, stating they would meet again on the following Tuesday afternoon, September 10th, to pronounce a verdict, should no further witnesses come forward.

On Monday September 9, 1901, King's Council E.V. Bodwell acknowledged receipt of his instructions to appear at the inquiry on behalf of the government. He immediately won an adjournment to allow time to produce new witnesses from among the Islander's passengers. He also secured the right to cross-examine the conduct of the crew and to take other measures to ensure that the inquiry was not seen to be helping the company to "whitewash its officers."

The new witnesses painted a very different picture than what had so far emerged, testifying that the sinking was accompanied by confusion and chaos. Passengers in their cabins were not informed there had been an accident; the captain was alleged to have been inebriated; and half-empty lifeboats containing crew members left the ship, leaving passengers stranded on deck. Only after the inquest had finished, when the North West Mounted Police inquired into compensation for lost goods, was it discovered that not all of the crew members were licensed for their profession.

The final, three-page finding of the inquiry was, among other items, critical of the captain for not ensuring a proper quota of people per boat and for not realizing the imminent danger that the ship was in. However, a short handwritten paragraph was inserted into the document, stating that the loss of the Islander was not due "to the intemperance of the Master [Captain] or Officers."

Reports of lucrative amounts of gold on board the sunken ship led to many early salvage efforts and several lawsuits. The main portion of the hull was discovered in 1934, but the bow section, where the gold was located, eluded searchers until 1996, when it was located and identified by Commander Nicholas R Messinger RD*, RNR, Master Mariner and Fellow of The Nautical Institute.

How a Lost Fortune Inspired an Ambitious Effort to Raise the S.S. Islander

When the 240-foot SS Islander hit an iceberg in Alaska's inside waters just twelve miles from Juneau, Capt. H.R. Foote decided to make a desperate run for nearby Douglas Island. But it was too late. Water was pouring into a huge gash in the port bow. The stern was rising. The pride of the Canadian Pacific fleet quickly sank. Sixty-five of the 176 passengers and crew were lost, including Captain Foote, whose final words were: "Tell 'em I tried to beach her." The newspapers had a field day. Gold worth $3 million was rumored to have been put aboard in Skagway. There was talk of a salvage operation, but for thirty-three years the passenger vessel lay out of reach in 350 feet of water. In 1933, Seattle and Portland house-mover Frank Curtis proposed a bold salvage plan using two lift vessels, giant winches, diving bells, tidal power, and a determined crew of thirty or so house-movers, loggers, and rigging mechanics. Curtis was backed by a group of businessmen including future Weyerhaeuser Timber Company president Norton Clapp, who later invested in construction of Seattle's Space Needle. Accompanied by eighty-five extraordinary photographs and illustrations, this is an insider's story of a two-year struggle to raise the Islander, a record-breaking salvage that focused on a single prize - an elusive fortune in gold.

Leonard H. Delano of Portland worked on the Islander salvage crew and was its official photagrapher. Later, he worked as a motion-picture cameraman for the 1938 film 'Call of the Yukon.' Delano died in 1989. His son, Doug, fulfilled his late father's dream in 2011 with the publication of this excellent book.

SS Islander, outboard, loading for the Klondike gold fields at Victoria BC in 1897

This is a story with more twists and turns - and probably more intrigue - than that of the RMS Titanic of the White Star Line, which sank, amidst much publicity, in 1912.  The SS Islander belonged to another great British institution: the mighty CanadianPacific Navigation Company.  She sank eleven years before the Titanic, almost anonymously - just another victim of the weather and the treacherous waters of the infamous Inside Passage, the notorious stretch of Pacific between British Columbia and Alaska. 

Seattle, 1901

The SS Islander, was serving the Inside Passage between Alaska and Seattle, and was south bound out of Skagway when she struck what was reported to be an iceberg and sank in the Lynn Canal, south of Juneau on August 15th, 1901. Carrying miners, business men and dignitaries home from the gold fields, her cargo was reported to be millions of dollars in gold. In 1934, she was raised from the seabed, and beached on Admiralty Island. Despite employing teams of gold prospectors, nothing of substance was found inside the main hull. 

"Examination of photographs taken at the time, revealed an unexplained mystery: the whole bow section of the ship - from the stem bar to the passenger accommodation forward bulkhead - was missing!  According to statements made by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constables who were onboard to guard the shipment, the gold bullion was stowed in a locker on the port side of the forward well deck, just abaft the break of the focsle. An area located within the 'missing' hull section, which remained missing until August 1996, when we located what remained of the steelwork, using sidescan sonar and a Remotely Operated Vehicle." Nick Messinger 1996

Sidescan Sonar Image Showing Bow Section and Debris

This web page is dedicated to our ROV Pilot, my friend Ronnie Farmiloe, an old boy of Charterhouse  School, who could cook the most marvelous Sunday roasts, who was tragically murdered, in Thailand.

Ronnie Farmiloe, ROV Pilot and  gentleman.             Ronnie's 'baby', Sea Eye Surveyor ROV

 But now back to that awful night, 15th August 1901, and the words of a local newspaper man: Mr Charles Ross, one of the survivors of six people who were dressed and left on the deck of that ill-fated vessel to look out for themselves as best they could when she plunged into the depths of the sea, gave us the following sketch of the sad disaster. The time is so young and his feelings so tender that we did not care to be too inquisitive. “The vessel has set sail from Skagway the evening before, and at 2.15 a.m. or 1.15 Dawson time, the ship struck. They were in bed, and feeling the shock he arose, but in a few minutes an officer passed their room door and told them there was nothing the matter. Mrs Ross lay down again, but in a few moments he heard something like chopping, going on above and went on deck. The largest and best lifeboat had then left with eight of the crew on board, and the boat would have carried forty people. He hastened to his room and told Minnie to hurry up, there was danger. Dressing as quick as possible they went on deck. The last boat was then leaving the vessel and was not thirty feet away; they called to the men to return but they would not. They then put on life preservers and in a few minutes the vessel went down. They did not step off the vessel as has been reported, but went into the water as the vessel went down, in fact stood in the water when they were putting on their life preservers. Mr Ross never spoke to Minnie afterwards. When in the water he called to her but no answer came. When the first boat landed, volunteers came up afterward and took the boat to hunt for bodies, or anyone floating on rafts or what they could find. The sailors would not return. Mr Ross was in the water nearly three and a half hours before being picked up, and it was 9 o’clock a.m. before he regained consciousness. He was nearly dead from cold. He had gotten hold of a piece of wreckage and kept his head out of the water. Mrs Ross was picked up floating among the wreckage. There seems to have been some sort of explosion as the vessel went down, and no doubt some of the dead were struck by wreckage as all the bodies recovered were bruised. It is said that fully sixty to sixty-five people were drowned. The Officers did not call anyone from their berths.”

The Mighty Canadian Pacific

Canadian Pacific has a unique Canadian history. It was founded in 1881 to build a transcontinental railway linking Eastern Canada with the Pacific Coast. The railway, completed in 1885, united a young nation and paved the way for a century of growth and development.

SS Empress of Britain's "Mayfair" Lounge, 1933

Today, Canadian Pacific Limited is a diversified operating company active in transportation, energy and hotels. The Canadian Pacific group of companies includes Canadian Pacific Railway, CP Ships, Pan Canadian Petroleum, Fording and Canadian Pacific Hotels. Canadian Pacific's shares are listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges under the symbol "CP". Headquartered in Calgary, they are active in every province in Canada with their strongest concentration of assets in Western Canada, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia.

The Canadian Pacific Navigation Company's S.S.Islander, launched by Napier Shanks & Bell of Glasgow in 1888


Islander in Esquimalt BC Drydock in the 1890s

Islander having propellers repaired on beach at Sitka, July 25, 1892.

Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 297-205.

Islander was one of the most popular ships on the Inside Passage run and on 30th January 1893, celebrated her 1000th trip between Victoria and Skagway.

Canadian Pacific built her especially for the Inside Passage to Alaska run and was reputedly the most luxurious steamer engaged on that route. As a consequence, she was favoured by many wealthy businessmen, speculators, bankers, railroad tycoons and the like who had a stake in the lucrative Klondike gold fields.

The Historical Background

S.S.Islander was a 240 x 42 x 14ft steel-hulled, twin screw passenger liner whose Dunsmuir & Jackson triple expansion steam engine was rated for 15 knots. She was built especially for the Inland Passage to Alaska and was reputedly the most luxurious steamer engaged on that run. As a consequence, it was the favored vessel for the many wealthy businessmen, speculators, bankers, railroad tycoons and the like who had a stake in the lucrative Klondike gold fields.

Klondike Gold Bars

As a Canadian flag vessel, the Islander carried a disproportionately large share of the gold bullion and dust that the Yukon's Gold Commissioner checked through his office in Dawson.

On August 14, 1901 the Islander departed Skagway, Alaska bound for Victoria, British Columbia, filled to capacity with passengers and a cargo of gold bullion valued at over $6,000,000 in 1901 dollars. Sometime after 2:00 am in the early morning of August 15, while transiting the narrow Lynn Canal south of Juneau, she struck what was reported to be an iceberg that stove a large hole in her forward port quarter. Attempts to steer the foundering vessel ashore on nearby Douglas Island were in vain; within five minutes, the tremendous weight of the water filling the ship's forward compartments had forced her bow underwater and her stern, rudder and propellers completely out of the water.

After drifting for about 15 minutes in a strong southerly outbound tide, the Islander began her final plunge to the bottom.

Photo, CP Ships

Survivors clinging to the few seaworthy lifeboats reported that a 'whoosh' of escaping air and steam from the boilers blew the wooden upper works from the sinking ship, which rained down upon the horrified passengers in a hail of splinters and debris. The witnesses further reported that the Islander broke amidships before the once-proud steamer slipped beneath the seas to her final resting place in 175 feet of frigid water.

In addition to the financial blow, the Islander disaster claimed numerous prominent victims, among them Mrs. James H. Ross and her daughter, the wife and child of the Commissioner, the highest government official in the Yukon Territory; Charles Keating, a multimillionaire and Director of the Commerce Bank of Canada, with two of his sons; and Peter Warren Bell, a retired senior officer of the Hudson Bay Company, who was in the Yukon on personal business for a confidant of England's King Edward VII.

Salvage Efforts: 1901-1934

No sooner had the Islander sunk than efforts to locate the shipwreck began. Within days, her sister ship, the Haling, was sounding the uncharted bottom in order to determine the depth of the sunken liner. The first attempt to find the Islander was a failure, but within one year, Henry Finch, a seasoned deep sea diver with 40 years underwater experience, was on the Lynn Canal dragging the bottom for the sunken hull. He eventually located the hull in 1902 but was not able to progress further at that time with an actual salvage effort. In 1904, equipped with a newly designed barge and diving bell, the tenacious Finch succeeded in relocating the shipwreck in 175 feet of frigid water. Peering into the black abyss from a primitive diving bell, Finch reported a "gaping hole" in the Islander's bow. Unfortunately, the salvors did not have the ability to grapple the wreck with sufficient strength to gain access to the reputed location of the gold bullion in the Purser's Office amidships. As a consequence, only a piece of the Islander's deck rail and grating were recovered that year. In spite of his frustration, Finch could never forget the tantalizing lure of the vast shipwrecked treasure. Over the next 25 years, a seemingly never-ending procession of bold professional salvors pitted themselves against the formidable challenge of the Islander. Each of these well financed operations succeeded in reaching the sunken liner, but none was able to penetrate her hold or recover any of the gold cargo. The adverse conditions of poor weather topside, nearly nonexistent visibility, powerful currents and extremely cold temperature notwithstanding, salvage from such depths was virtually unheard of in those days. Nevertheless, at least a dozen separate salvage ventures were attempted during 21 different seasons. In 1929 the Willey group teamed with Frank Curtis, a professional house mover with extensive experience in transporting large structures. Their plan was to string 20 sturdy steel cables beneath the sunken liner that were connected to surface vessels. The cables were cinched up with each low tide, enabling the shipwreck to be inched toward shore with each high tide. This grueling operation took two full salvage seasons until, on July 20, 1934, the Islander once again broke the surface near Green's Cove, Admiralty Island, Alaska.

The Curtis-Willey group had performed the near impossible: bringing up from 175 feet of icy water three-quarters of the passenger liner. The "gaping hole" first noted nearly 30 years earlier turned out to be far more significant: 60 of the Islander's 240 feet, its bow section, including the Mail and Storage Room, had been sheared off completely. Still, it was the Purser's Office in the center of the vessel where they expected to find the bulk of the Islander's golden treasure. For the rest of the short Alaskan summer, the Curtis-Willey crew raked decades of accumulated muck and encrustation from the skeletal remains of the once proud steamer.

In the cruelest of disappointments, however, the Islander would yield the paltry sum of $75,000.00 worth of gold nuggets and dust. When cleared of muck, the long anticipated Purser's Office proved to be a truly bitter washout: none of the reputed ironbound strong boxes of bullion ingots were found; its safe contained a handful of U.S. $10.00 and $20.00 gold pieces and a stack of rancid U.S. and Canadian paper currency. After 33 years of virtual nonstop, back-and-spirit breaking toil, the Islander, having been laboriously wrenched from her frozen tomb, had the last laugh: her priceless tons of gold bullion lay undisturbed on the bottom of Lynn Canal, still ensconced in the Mail and Storage Room, in the unrecovered bow of the shipwreck.

"One breath from death!" diving machine c1934

Lower away!

Popular Mechanics Magazine drawing of the c1934 Curtis-Wiley diving machine

Islander between the Griffson and Forest Pride in 1934

Islander beached on Admiralty island in 1934

Washing out the silt and gravel in search of the elusive gold ore in concentrate

The Engine Room Telegraph.

The above pages from Popular Mechanics were kindly sent to me by J.S.Bech of The Rebreather Website


Salvage Efforts 1996

OceanMar Inc of Seattle, having first obtained a 'Salvage Agreement' from the Salvage Association of London, raised sufficient capital in the USA and UK, to charter a suitable vessel, the MV Jolly Roger out of Santa Barbara, and mount a properly equipped expedition. Sailing from Tacoma Seattle, where the ship had been extensively fitted out, Ted Jaynes, founder and President of OceanMar, Nick Messinger submariner and former deep diving operations manager, Ian Blamire, another Englishman and Managing Director of Sea Eye Marine of Gosport, had high expectations of salvaging Islander's bow section and recovering the elusive gold bullion and ore in concentrate. The three men, all former employees of InterSub - International Submarine Services of Marseilles, France, were highly experienced professionals, and with an extensive sidescan sonar suite, high-tech Sea Eye Marine 'Surveyor' ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and surface and subsea acoustic navigation and tracking systems, they were the most well equipped expedition thus far. On arrival Juneau, alongside the jetty and taking on fresh water, the Jolly Roger was boarded by a US Deputy Marshall, who served a Temporary Restraining Order, obtained by another salvage company, Yukon Recovery of Seattle. Yukon claimed rights to the wreck on the basis that they had removed a light fitting and a bottle, under the law of 'finder's keepers' and the Abandoned Shipwreck Act. OceanMar, having spent over seven years extensively researching the Islander disaster, claimed that the wreck had never been abandoned and that their Salvage Agreement with the original insurers, therefore took precedence. OceanMar were also able to demonstrate that they had located the bow long before Yukon appeared on the scene. A visit to Anchorage and a meeting with the judge, fortunately an expert in maritime affairs, resulted in permission being granted for OceanMar to survey and video the wreck site, but on the strict understanding that nothing would be removed. Somewhat demoralized at the turn of events, Jolly Roger and her crew set sail, and spent the next five weeks on site, recording every aspect of the bow section and side-scanning the debris field, between the original point of impact and the final resting place. They were on site in the Gastineau Canal, on the 95th anniversary of the sinking, 15th August 1996. There then followed four long years of expensive legal battle with Yukon Recovery, resulting in the US Court of Appeal For the 9th District, finding in favour of OceanMar on 7th March 2000, Case Number 98-36015. 

SS Islander Bow Section Wreck Site, August 1996

Sonar Image of Bow Section, 0235 hrs 15th August 1996

95 years to the hour and day since her sinking.....

SS Islander Bow Section Porthole August 1996

Retrieved and returned to wrecksite again after positive identification.

Ted Jaynes and the US Crew August 1996


Nick M - ROV Umbilical snarl-up; Diving; Sidescan; On Deck at Juneau

The Saga Continues:

In February 2002, OceanMar and IUC joined forces in order to continue salvaging the SS Islander’s bow section, using  IUC 's Aloha  - but then a serious mishap occurred:-

  Transocean Sedco Forex Reports Rescue of Crew of Survey-and-Recovery Vessel ALOHA

HOUSTON, Feb 8, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. (NYSE:RIG) today announced that its drillship, Peregrine III, has safely rescued the nine-member crew of the survey-and-recovery vessel ALOHA, which was lost at sea about 100 nautical miles northeast of Cozumel while under way to a historical and bullion wreck. The ALOHA reported that it had lost power and was taking on water on Thursday, February 7. Also responding were a German container vessel, MV Libra Houston, and a Norwegian cruise ship, Rhapsody At Sea. The ALOHA crewmembers, including four U.S. citizens and five Philipinos, were taken aboard the Peregrine III from an ALOHA life raft. No medical problems were reported among the rescued crewmembers.

The ALOHA, a dynamically positioned ROV (remotely operated vehicle) survey ship, belongs to Deepsea International (DSI). "As the managing director of DSI, I am sorry to see the loss of our ALOHA, grateful for the spared lives of its crew, and proud to be a stockholder of Transocean Sedco Forex, a company we owe a great deal of gratitude in responding to our situation," said Eric Galerne, who was onboard the ALOHA and is now aboard the Peregrine III. Captain Mike Moore, Chief of Search and Rescue for the Seventh U.S. Coast Guard District in Miami, wrote in an email to Peregrine III Captain Ron MacDonald: "You and your crew are commended for the humanitarian assistance displayed during your rescue of nine crewmembers from the research vessel ALOHA ... Your quick recovery of the survivors and timely notification to Coast Guard rescue coordinators resulted in saving nine lives. The professional actions demonstrated by you and your crew are appreciated. Well done." Added Tim Juran, North America Region Manager for Transocean Sedco Forex: "We are, indeed, proud of Captain MacDonald and the well-trained Peregrine III crew for helping avert the loss of life at sea." Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. is the world's largest offshore drilling contractor with more than 160 fully or partially owned or operated mobile offshore drilling units, inland drilling barges and other assets utilized in the support of offshore drilling activities worldwide. The company's mobile offshore drilling fleet is considered one of the most modern and versatile in the world with 31 high-specification semisubmersibles and drillships, 29 other semisubmersibles and one drillship (other floaters), and 54 jackup drilling rigs, of which 28 are located in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Transocean Sedco Forex specializes in technically demanding segments of the offshore drilling business, including industry-leading positions in deepwater and harsh environment drilling services. With a current equity market capitalization in excess of $9 billion, the company's ordinary shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "RIG."

Transocean Sedco Forex Reports Rescue of Crew of Survey-and-Recovery Vessel ALOHA

HOUSTON, Feb 8, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. (NYSE:RIG) today announced that its drillship, Peregrine III, has safely rescued the nine-member crew of the survey-and-recovery vessel ALOHA, which was lost at sea about 100 nautical miles northeast of Cozumel while under way to a historical and bullion wreck. The ALOHA reported that it had lost power and was taking on water on Thursday, February 7. Also responding were a German container vessel, MV Libra Houston, and a Norwegian cruise ship, Rhapsody At Sea. The ALOHA crewmembers, including four U.S. citizens and five Philipinos, were taken aboard the Peregrine III from an ALOHA life raft. No medical problems were reported among the rescued crewmembers.

The ALOHA, a dynamically positioned ROV (remotely operated vehicle) survey ship, belongs to Deepsea International (DSI). "As the managing director of DSI, I am sorry to see the loss of our ALOHA, grateful for the spared lives of its crew, and proud to be a stockholder of Transocean Sedco Forex, a company we owe a great deal of gratitude in responding to our situation," said Eric Galerne, who was onboard the ALOHA and is now aboard the Peregrine III. 

From the June 18th 2012 - Alaska Dispatch

"The Alaska Office of History and Archaeology estimates there could be as many as 3,000 shipwrecks lining the state’s 44,000 miles of coastline. Now, the multi-million-dollar mystery behind one of those wrecks may finally be answered, when a Seattle-based company attempts to salvage the remains of the SS Islander, which sank in 1901 while carrying Klondike gold rushers – and, reportedly, lots of their gold -- from Skagway to the city of Victoria in British Columbia. A federal judge in April declared that Ocean Mar, Inc. and its president, 62-year-old Theodore Jaynes, could move ahead with plans to survey and possibly salvage the more-than-century-old shipwreck. The decision ended more than a decade of legal wrangling over the salvage rights to the ship, and could finally answer the question of just how much -- if any -- gold remains on the sea floor where the SS Islander sank in Southeast Alaska. But there’s more to this story about how a luxury ferry -- built in Scotland and considered “unsinkable” by some -- found its way to Alaska, and then to the seabed off of Alaska’s Admiralty Island. Along with the ship, about 40 people met their fate on an August night at the beginning of the 20th century......


In February, gold recovered from the shipwreck back in 2012 went on sale for $4 million, while the Alaska State Museum is getting an influx of new artefacts raised from the watery depths during the 2012 recovery effort. Two Washington State companies, OceanMar and MK Salvage Venture, worked together to resurrect the materials in a month's long effort that involved a massive 'claw' pulling the 85lb treasure chest - among other items -  up out of the depths. The first gold was found on Labor Day 2012. The Reno, Nevada-based gold sales and consulting company Holabird Western Americana Collections is the agent for OceanMar, working to sell the gold. "It's a unique treasure and represents an incredible educational opportunity," said Fred Holabird, owner of the collector company. Inside the chest were leather bags, called 'pokes', weighing about 200 ounces each and full of gold that probably came from Nome and totalled about 1,200 ounces, Holabird said. "When it sank, the ship could also have been carrying gold from Dawson, Yukon, or elsewhere."



Thursday, January 17, 2013 Courthouse News.  

SEATTLE (CN) - Two companies sued each other over rights and technology used in an effort to recover "hundreds of pounds of gold" lost in a 1901 shipwreck.
     The SS Islander sank near Juneau, Alaska in 1901, killing 40 passengers, according to the two federal complaints. The ship was believed to be transporting "hundreds of pounds of gold" from the Klondike to Seattle and San Francisco. Salvagers say that if there were gold on board, it would likely be "single gold bars and boxes of gold bars" buried under as much as 8 feet of silt.
     MK Salvage Venture LLC, of Seattle, sued Tetra Tech EC, a New Jersey corporation with offices in Seattle, in one complaint. Tetra Tech returned the favor in its complaint against MK Salvage.
     MK Salvage Venture, preparing to recover artifacts and treasure from the Islander, hired Tetra Tech to do technical work for the operation.
     Tetra Tech claims MK Salvage refused to pay it $630,200 for data analysis and survey work. Tetra Tech sued for breach of contract, claiming it "fully completed the scope of work and otherwise fully performed all services."
     Tetra Tech claims it also is entitled to $175,000 if it documents and recovers at least 137 pounds of gold.
     MK Salvage sued for fraudulent inducement, claiming Tetra Tech made false statements about its technology, including its "inability to detect gold bars and its inability to detect boxes of gold bars that were wrapped in iron strap."
     MK Salvage claims that it "repeatedly and specifically sought confirmation from Tetra Tech that it guaranteed its technology would detect non-ferrous materials up to 8 feet under the silt."
     Tetra Tech technicians later disclosed the maximum detection capability of their equipment was only 3˝ feet and "they were dubious about their technology having the ability to detect a bar of gold in any depth of sediments," MK Salvage says in its complaint.
     MK Salvage claims it lost two months of excavation time due to Tetra Tech's failed technology and spent several hundred thousands of dollars, "which MK Salvage would not have spent but for having relied on the guarantees and misrepresentations of Tetra Tech and compensating for Tetra Tech's misrepresentations."
     MK Salvage claims it doesn't owe Tetra Tech anything and wants punitive damages for fraudulent inducement, breach of faith, breach of agreement and negligent misrepresentation.
     MK Salvage is represented by Stephen Vanderhoef, with Cairncross & Hempelmann.
     Tetra Tech is represented by Mark Beard, with Lane Powell.

This dispute relates to certain remote operated vehicles (ROVs) provided by the plaintiff, SeaTrepid International, LLC, a Louisiana underwater engineering firm, to assist in a salvage operation on a shipwreck site off the coast of Juneau, Alaska. The defendants are: (1) MK Salvage Venture, LLC ("MK Venture"); (2) MK Pacific, LLC ("MK Pacific"); (3) Bear Trading Enterprises, LLC ("Bear Trading"); (4) Michelle Ridgeway ("Ridgeway"); and (5) Oceanus Alaska. Each of the three limited liability companies was organized in the state of Washington, and the members of each are citizens of the state of Washington. Ridgeway is a citizen of Alaska, and Oceanus Alaska is her solely-owned business. 

Plaintiff filed suit in the Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Parish of Tangipahoa, alleging that the defendants: (1) breached a written lease agreement (for the lease of one Mohawk ROV) (the "Mohawk Lease"), an oral lease agreement (for two Outland ROVs), and several other oral and email agreements (e.g., alleged agreements to use only a qualified ROV pilot, to pay for the two lost Outland ROVs, and to pay for a SeaTrepid technician mobilized to the site); (2) negligently caused the loss of the two Outland ROVs; and (3) converted the salvaged Outland ROV (the other Outland ROV was not recovered). Defendants MK Salvage, MK Pacific, and Bear Trading removed the case to this Court on the bases of diversity and admiralty jurisdiction. (Rec. Docs. 1, 7).

Accordingly, for all of the foregoing reasons, 

IT IS ORDERED that the Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc. 8) is hereby DENIED.

New Orleans, Louisiana, this 11th day of March, 2013.


A 2015 assay of a sample of the gold recovered in 2012, by American Assay Labs in Sparks, Nev., indicated the fineness of the gold at .800 fine, according to Holabird....

The official accounting of $275,000 in gold lost on the Islander in 1901 would reflect about 13,301 troy ounces, today valued at about $15 million, Holabird said. Some 10 or 12 treasure boxes containing gold must have been on the Islander. The estimate is derived from the amount each treasure box could hold, about 85 pounds of gold, according to Holabird.

The gold recovered in 2012 was the content of only one box, and it was initially turned over to MK Salvage Venture LLC in Seattle, in accordance with its court-approved financing agreement with Ocean Mar Inc. for funding salvage operations. 

Links to the latest news to follow.....

© Commander Nick Messinger RD* FNI RNR - Master Mariner - Galbraith Wrightson Senior Research Fellow