The Liner Merida, Gold Ship | All about water, the oceans, environmental issues |


The Liner Merida, Gold Ship....


In 1910 the liner Merida while in fog and approaching Cape Charles, Virginia hit another ship, the Admiral Farragut, and the Merida sunk. The Merida had in the bullion room over $4 million in gold and jewels plus another estimated million in money and jewelry in the cabins of the passengers bound for New York. The ship had left Yucatan and had on board the widow of Mexico's former president Francisco Madero who had been executed, plus other distinguished passengers who thought it was an appropriate time to leave Mexico. All passengers were saved from the sinking ship but the ship sank with all valuables.There have been a number of attempts to salvage the gold and jewels. In 1915 there was attempt but it was decided the ship was in too deep of water. In 1925 another attempt that was called off. In 1932 another attempt but due to fighting among the salvagers the Coast Guard had to be called in and the attempt was given up. In 1950 another attempt but the results are not known and in 1983 amateur divers tried but were driven off by the Coast Guard. Most of the attempts were called off due to the depth and the currents where it sunk.The Merida lies in twenty-five fathoms of water east-southeast of Quinby Inlet. It is marked on US Government charts.


Excerpt from the Wicomico News Feb 18, 1932


Captain Harry L. Bowdoin is one man whose boyhood dreams of seeking lost treasure will come true. In April he and his crew of searchers will sail on the ship Salvor for a point off the Virginia Capes where $4,000,000 in gold lies in the purser's office of a liner that went down more than a score of years ago.Since 18, Captain Bowdoin has wanted to seek treasure and for the last sixteen years he has been working on inventions which he is certain will now make the search possible along the sea deeps where disaster has claimed ships containing gold. the operations will be carried on by divers wearing a suit designed by Captain Bowdoin. The Captain makes many unusual claims as to the possibilities of success with his suit.A diver may be lowered immediately to salvage scenes in it and be brought to the surface as quickly as lifting machinery can handle the 1,400 pound suit, he says. The suit's shoulders are equipped with powerable searchlights and the armor is flexible at necessary joints giving it the appearance and roughly, the qualities of a robot. Claws are fitted at each hand, worked from the inside and movement of the 'arms' and 'legs' of the suit are worked by small machinery.Backers of the corporation which has been formed to salvage sunken ships maintain that this suit is the first in which work can actually be done at low depths. Tests in the suit have been made at more than 200 feet lower than ever before. One of these was a certified test at 210 feet, made off New London, Conn. Captain Bowdoin stayed down for an hour and 56 minutes, sending up stones from the bottom of the sea, in a special lifting basket.From this depth, the diver was brought to the surface in 1 minute and 52 seconds. An important feature of the apparatus is that it allows the diver to breathe natural air forces down thru a tube. This gives him more working time below and eliminates any physical ill effects from the operations of descent and ascent.A four ton observation tank also will be lowered its occupants to cooperate in the work of the diver reporting by telephone to the salvage ship above and to the diver himself. The two units will coordinate in the finding and salvage of sunken objects.The Salvor's immediate salvage object will be the steamer Merida, which went down in a dense fog off the Virginia Capes in May 1911, after the liner Admiral Farragut rammed a hole in her side. The Merida was bring back from Mexico $4,000,000 in gold and according to reports at that time, fabulous wealth in jewels, all stored in the purser's strong room.Captain Bowdoin says he will have no trouble in finding the Merida, one phase of salvage that has baffled others treasure hunters. He will use an electric sound device which he believes will show just where the ship lies. It is the same apparatus used on many ocean liners today to show depth of water and sunken objects.When the wreck is located Captain Bowdoin will bring his ship above it and begin operations. But his dream will not end there. If the Merida is successfully salvaged the Salvor and her treasure hunting crew will seek other gold freighted wrecks. all over the world, in water too deep for ordinary salvage, lies ships with vast wealth in gold and jewels.Among them Captain Bowdoin mentions the liner Egypt, which lies off the coast of France in 400 feet of water and which, so far, has proved inaccessible to other salvage equipment.