The long rally of 2012 has some tension building in the finance universe so rather than mix it up there, a totally non market related tale tonight.
The Story of the SS Republic
SS Republic delivers quite a tale.
The ship was built in 1853. Powered by steam engine and propulsion was done by two huge paddle wheels on the sides of the ship. Originally the given name was Tennessee.
Adventure? Check out this list:
-Part of first steamship service between NYC and Central America
-During the California Gold Rush, transported "49'ers" to the eastern shores of Panama and Nicaragua to travel to California's Sierra Nevada mountains
-Transported the last wave of mercenary soldiers in William Walkers rogue take over of Nicaragua, then brought the defeated back home
-Served the Vera Cruz, Mexico to New Orleans shipping lane
Quite a run already, but it gets better.
In New Orleans when the US Civil War broke out, the Confederate navy seized the ship and used it for blockade running. She was re-named the CSS Tennessee in 1861. When the Union forces took over New Orleans the ship was dubbed the USS Tennessee and was pout to use at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.
In March 1865 the old ship was deemed to expensive to refit and was sold at auction. Now given the name SS Republic, the ship was used for the New York to New Orleans travel route from then on.
Gold and Silver Currency for Rebuilding the South
Leaving New York on October 18, 1865 the ship was loaded with passengers as well as a sizable amount of gold and silver coins meant for rebuilding the hard currency base in the south after transfer to New Orleans.
A strong hurricane off Georgia proved too much for the ship, from Wiki:
On the fifth day of her voyage, a hurricane off the coast of Georgia proved too strong for the ship. By evening, her hull was leaking so badly that the fire in the boiler was extinguished, and she stalled in heavy seas, taking on water faster than her crew and passengers could bail her. At 4 pm on October 25, 1865, she sank. The passengers and crew escaped in four lifeboats and a make-shift raft, but 40-foot seas throughout the night made keeping them afloat a serious challenge. It was not until two days later, on October 27 that the survivors, now desperate with thirst, were found by the sailing ship Horace Beals. On October 29, the steamer General Hooker had been sent to look for the Republic, and rendezvoused with Horace Beals. The passengers were transferred and taken to Charleston. Most of the passengers and crew survived, although several were lost on the raft before they could be rescued. All the coins were lost.And that was that. Or was it?
Rediscovery and Recovery of the Coins
In 2003 the company Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX) was able to locate the wreck off Georgia in 1700 feet of water. OMEX uses historical study, side scan sonar arrays, and Bayesian search statistics to locate ships.
The side scan sonar made the two huge paddle wheels very clear to see (its hard in this picture, but it was clear):
The rover robot that OMEX uses to search the ship and recover coins took this picture of one of the wheels:
Now that is a tale!
Lost Gold of the Republic - Priit J. Vesilind
Full disclosure: I have a small position in OMEX from years ago that is still "underwater" (pun intended) and thus this tale is not investment advice or trying to get back to even, just find it very interesting.
Have a good night.