Two ocean technology companies compete in a multimillion-dollar race to find Amelia Earhart’s wreck. One says it may be close to the finish line.

Amelia Earhart stands in front of her biplane named ‘Friendship’ in Newfoundland on June 14, 1928.Getty Images

  • Deep Sea Vision said last month that recent sonar scans could reveal Amelia Earhart’s long-lost plane.

  • Nauticos, a rival ocean technology company, claims DSV’s scans are unlikely to show the mysterious wreck.

  • Both companies have invested millions in the hunt for Earhart’s wreck and are continuing the search.

The race is on to find the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated final flight.

The search has lured deep-pocketed American investors as they try to cement their legacy by solving one of the world’s most enduring mysteries.

Last month, Deep Sea Vision, a South Carolina maritime robotics company founded by Tony Romeo, a pilot who was a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, captured an image using sonar of a high-tech unmanned submarine that he believes is the crash site of Earhart’s signature plane.

Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were attempting to fly around the world in 1937 when the pair went missing somewhere over the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island, a small unincorporated area of ​​the US about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.

Both were declared dead in 1939. Yet their unsolved disappearance at the height of Earhart’s fame has decades of history conspiracy theories about what happened to the iconic pilot and her flying companion.

A sonar image of an underwater object appears next to a diagram of Amelia Earhart's missing plane.A sonar image of an underwater object appears next to a diagram of Amelia Earhart's missing plane.

Tony Romeo and his company, Deep Sea Vision, discovered an object of similar size and shape to Amelia Earhart’s iconic plane deep in the Pacific Ocean.Deep sea vision

Romeo says he may have solved the mystery with his sonar scans. But he’s not the only one searching.

“The next step is confirmation; we have to go out again with different types of sensors and photograph it really well and see how the artifact lies on the seabed,” says Romeo, who has invested $11 million in the project. and created Deep Sea Vision to help fund the search, Business Insider told us.

He added: “Once that step is taken, a lot of people will be involved. The SmithsonianFor the family, there will be some investors involved as it will be an expensive operation. But then we think: ‘How do we lift the plane? How can we save it? ”

Nauticos, a competing ocean technology company known for its participation in the discovery of the site of the sunken I-52, a Japanese deep-water submarine from World War II, has been hunting for decades Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E. The company, which has conducted similar surveys on the ocean floor covering an area about the size of Connecticut, has disputed Romeo’s claims.

“Yes, the sonar target appears to have a fuselage, wings and a tail, but… it appears to have swept wings, its relative dimensions do not match those of the Electra, and there is a lack of engine nacelles,” said one released statement. Through Nauticos in response to Romeo’s recent findings. “These characteristics do not correspond to a Lockheed Electra 10E.”

A map of the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island, where explorers have searched for the wreckage of Amelia Earhart's last flight.A map of the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island, where explorers have searched for the wreckage of Amelia Earhart's last flight.

Nauticos has scoured an area about the size of Connecticut on four separate expeditions in search of the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s last flight.Nauticos

Although Nauticos said any objects resembling aircraft near Howland Island have the potential to be Earhart’s Electra and should be positively identified, previous discoveries in the area believed to be related Earhart’s disappearance have proven to be as harmless as coils of cable on the seabed.

Jeff Morris, the project manager behind Nauticos’ Amelia Earhart Project, told BI that he remains “very skeptical” that Romeo’s target could be the real crash site, largely because of its location.

A recreated radio system

Since Nauticos began its search efforts in 2001, the company had been slowly locating and purchasing the components to recreate Earhart’s entire system. radio systemand finally got a big break in 2018 when a key part – the Western Electric 13C transmitter – was found at a swap meet.

“As far as anyone else knows, there is no other unit in the world,” Morris said.

The aircraft radio receiver was recreated by Nauticos in their investigation of Earhart's last transmissions.The aircraft radio receiver was recreated by Nauticos in their investigation of Earhart's last transmissions.

The same aircraft radio receiver used by Amelia Earhart was recreated by Nauticos when they investigated Earhart’s final transmissions.Nauticos

The company was able to recreate Earheart’s radio, which Morris said was key to analyzing the strength and distance of her last radio signals and triangulating where she could possibly have crashed. Through their analysis, Nauticos found that there was little chance that Earhart had turned her over definitive signals from the area that Romeo believes could be the wreck site.

Nauticos said fuel endurance studies indicated Earhart likely ran out of fuel about an hour after she reportedly radioed that she “had half an hour of fuel left,” hoping the nearby coast guard would pick up her transmission.

The company said radio testing and analysis indicated that, possibly due to poor weather conditions, Earhart was likely just out of visual range of the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, anchored at Howland Island, as her radio signal could be received. Yet no one on board reported seeing her unique Lockheed Electra in the sky.

Nauticos Earhart Discovery: Dynamic Aviation & the Nellie Crockett Join Bill Mills’ team on Vimeo.

The Deep Sea Vision target is located significantly west of Howland Island, according to Nauticos. The company added that it was unlikely that Earhart crashed there because she would not have been able to travel that far in that direction with the little fuel she had while her radio signals were still being received on land.

Not really a partnership, but a shared mission

While there is talk of pooling resources to find the wreckage, neither company has agreed to enter into a partnership. Morris said Romeo contacted Nauticos during his recent 100 days journey to explore the seabed around Howland Island and offered to conduct scans of any areas of interest where Nauticos thought the wreck might be located.

“He literally called us while he was there and said, ‘Hey, do you have any areas we should look at?’” Morris said. “And we said yes, but we need a contract between the two organizations because we have way too much intellectual property here to protect. And he said, ‘You know, I’m not ready yet.’ ”

A Deep Sea Vision representative told BI that Romeo and David Jourdan, Nauticos’ president, “have been in regular contact throughout DSV’s efforts” to find Earhart’s wreck, but did not respond to specific questions about a possible collaboration between the two companies .

Amelia EarhartAmelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart on June 20, 1928.J. Gaiger/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Every expedition to search for Earhart’s wreck costs a small fortune in equipment costs and hiring a crew of expert navigators, engineers and sonar operators to carry out the operations.

Romeo, a former real estate investor, sold commercial properties to raise the $11 million needed to finance the search, which included the purchase of a $9 million high-tech unmanned underwater vessel “Hugin” manufactured by a Norwegian company. Kongsberg. Deep Sea Vision now rents its equipment to other ocean researchers to continue funding its mission.

Nauticos started as a for-profit company. Morris said the company spent about $13 million on its initial trips in search of Earhart, adding, “We’re not talking about buying equipment money; we’re talking about the cost of actual operations.”

The company has since formed a nonprofit organization to raise donations and promote the educational benefits of uncovering Earhart’s plane, which Morris said could contain human remains. documents to be rescued that would provide important insight into the crash.

“This has all been funded along the way, mainly by individual investors who are really looking for an old project,” Morris said. “This isn’t the kind of thing you make money on, with the costs and the waiting.”

For now, Nauticos is preparing to launch a new round of fundraising to begin a fourth journey to search for the location it believes it could be. Earhart’s final resting place – and if Romeo and Deep Sea Vision found the wreck in the location they are currently targeting, Morris said, “we would never have looked there, so good for Tony.”

Morris declined to specify the locations Nauticos plans to search on its next expedition, out of caution that hobbyists or another company, such as Deep Sea Vision, could get there first and stake a salvage claim on the wreck. Under maritime law, anyone who helps salvage a ship or cargo lost at sea is entitled to a reward commensurate with the value of the property recovered.

“We were just, with the results of our radio tests, looking for funding for another expedition, and then Tony came along, so we kind of put everything on hold,” Morris said. “We didn’t want to come out with stuff right before he came out, so we said, ‘Okay, we’ll sit back. You get your day in the sun.'”

As the two companies compete for the glory of finding Earhart’s long-lost plane, they agree that if the plane is found, it belongs in a museum.

“We want the world to see it,” Morris said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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