Portland-based treasure hunter refuses to say whether he’s found $5 billion loot

Posted Oct. 23, 2012, at 7:53 a.m.
Greg Brooks, co-founder of Sub Sea Research LLC, refuses to say whether his team was able to recover any platinum off the ocean floor.
Sub Sea Research
Greg Brooks, co-founder of Sub Sea Research LLC, refuses to say whether his team was able to recover any platinum off the ocean floor.

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. — Treasure hunters looking to find billions of dollars in platinum they say was loaded on a World War II cargo ship are getting ready to wrap things up without any sign yet that they have retrieved anything.

Sub Sea Research owner Greg Brooks, based in Portland, Maine, wants to retrieve at least one of the platinum bars he claims was onboard the 431-foot-long Port Nicholson when it was sunk by a German sub on June 16, 1942, approximately 50 miles northeast of Provincetown.

The ship lies in about 700 feet of water. As many as 30 boxes, possibly containing platinum bars, lie scattered around the ship, part of a haul worth as much as $5 billion, Brooks said.

Brooks wrote in a recent email response to the Times that he had “an exclusive proprietary agreement with another media source” and would not grant any interviews that could violate that pact.

Brooks gave numerous interviews earlier in the year before the Sea Hunter embarked from Boston in the summer to the wreck site. At that time, the group was raising funds from investors to continue a search it said has been under way for the past three years.

The group already has spent $6 million on the project, and this past winter it put on a media blitz hoping to raise another $800,000 from investors.

Brooks’ senior researcher, Edward Michaud, said in an earlier interview the group wants to get a bar on deck to convince skeptics and investors there is treasure on the freighter. However, the remote-operated vehicle the group was using was not built to lift boxes weighing hundreds of pounds.

The crew took delivery last month of a beefier Super Mohawk ROV from the marine equipment rental firm Deep Down Inc., according to photographs on the Sub Sea website.

“We’re close to wrap-up,” Michaud said in a brief recent interview. He also declined to say anything about what they had found or how the work was progressing, citing the same contract as Brooks.

When asked if they were going back to the site to continue work at a later date, Michaud said, “We’ll be around for quite some time.”

The Nicholson project has drawn skepticism from veteran salvage experts who told the Times they either doubted there was any treasure on board or claimed the recovery was taking far too long for a ship that wasn’t at great depth.

The British government has said there was no precious metals on board the Nicholson but has filed a lawsuit to assert what it says is its ownership of the vessel.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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