Topic: Lighthouses & Shipwrecks
Mystery of sunken gold cargo in South Atlantic remains locked.
Punta Medanos Lighthouse Argentina
Another mysterious chapter for the sunken trawler “Polar Mist” and its cargo of 9.5 tons of gold, which was to be rescued this week from the South Atlantic sea shelf but had to be cancelled following seamen’ s union demands for a participation in the recovery.
An Argentine federal court in Rio Gallegos has opened a criminal investigation into the alleged “boycott” which frustrated the rescue operation and involved the crew of the Skandi Patagonia, a special multi-functional vessel for oil rigs support which had been contracted by Lloyd’s insurers.
The first reaction of the federal court was to retain the crew and captain of the Skandi Patagonia but they were later released and are back on logistic duties with French Total oil rigs close to the Magellan Strait. However the crew has been summoned to return for questioning.
“The federal court opened a criminal probe regarding the causes which impeded the Skandi Patagonia from sailing for the rescue operation, and crew and vessel were ordered to remain to establish responsibilities”, said Lloyd’s solicitor in Argentina Gustavo Giugale. However later they were released.
The rescue operation involved Mammoet Salvage, London Offshore Consultants and Raul Negro & Co.
The main rescue operation was to be by expert divers which had specific instructions and a questionnaire which would supply data on the sinking of the Polar Mist and its valuable cargo. They were to be supported by the crew of the Skandi Patagonia.
There are growing suspicions that the 16.5 million US dollars cargo might no be at the sea bottom.
Meantime the owners of the cargo, Cerro Vanguardia and Triton (mining companies extracting gold and silver in Santa Cruz Province) are demanding payment for the insured lost cargo.
“As far as we are concerned for us it’s the same whether the cargo exists or not; if not we are certain to collect the insurance and a prudential time has elapsed since January. As to the rest they can do whatever they wish”, said Jorge Palmés from Cerro Vanguardia.
However Lloyd’s insists: “we are going ahead with the rescue operation whatever happens and we have not received any communiqué from the mining companies”, said a source from the insurance corporation.
The precious metal left from Punta Quilla, Santa Cruz for Punta Arenas, Chile, aboard the Polar Mist, as happened regularly several times a month and had been going on for years. From Punta Arenas the metal was flown to Santiago and on to Switzerland.
However last January, 24 hours after leaving port and close to the east entrance of the Magellan Strait the Polar Mist, in the middle of a terrible storm, called for emergency rescue. The crew was rescued and Polar Mist was left to drift and supposedly to sink. However a few hours later the Argentine Coast Guard spots the Chilean vessel Beagle pulling the Polar Mist towards Chile.
They were ordered to return to Rio Gallegos but sometime during the night, Beagle alleging Polar Mist was sinking, cut loose from the former trawler which went down in 70/80 metres deep water, with its precious cargo.
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