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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 16, 201805:30 AM EST

Ship that helped explore wreck of the Titanic ordered auctioned

Owner of the Atlantis II owes more than $300,000 in dockage and other fees.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The federal court in Jacksonville granted in favor of North Florida Shipyards Inc. a final default judgment against the R/V Atlantis II and has ordered it auctioned.

The 210-foot research vessel was built for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute with a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard signed the default judgment in the amount of $319,759.79 for dockage and services, interest, attorney’s fees, court costs and a fee for the U.S. Marshals Service, which will administrate the auction.

The 210-foot Atlantis II went into service in 1963. The ship was decommissioned in 1996 and has been in Jacksonville for at least 20 years.

What makes the case noteworthy is the vessel’s history.

The 210-foot-long research vessel was state of the art when it went into service in 1963, designed to accommodate up to 25 scientists and a crew of 33 who could stay at sea up to 45 days.

Before it was decommissioned in 1996 and then sold by Woods Hole, the Atlantis II sailed more than 1 million miles during 458 research expeditions.

It logged more than 8,100 days at sea in every ocean of the world, according to Woods Hole historical records.

Perhaps its most newsworthy mission was to support the exploration of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.

In July 1986, the Atlantis II transported the submersible Alvin to the site to capture the first photographs and video of the ocean liner, which sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912.

The Atlantis II logged more than 8,100 days at sea in every ocean of the world, according to Woods Hole historical records.

The vessel has been in Jacksonville for several years, as far back as 1998 when it was at a shipyard in Mayport for a proposed reclassification.

It eventually was moved to a dock under the Mathews Bridge, where it remained until September 2017 when Hurricane Irma threatened Northeast Florida.

The U.S. Coast Guard declared the dock unfit for the vessel to ride out the storm, so it was moved to North Florida Shipyards at Commodore’s Point near the Hart Bridge.

After the storm, the ship’s agent, who was given power of attorney about a year earlier by the vessel’s owners when they decided they weren’t going to continue to invest in the ship’s upkeep, couldn’t pay the dock bill, so the Atlantis II remained at the shipyard.

In November 2017, it was seized by federal marshals after the shipyard filed suit to recover its dockage bill.

No date for the public auction has been set, but in the meantime, a Facebook page, Save the Research Vessel M/V Atlantis II, was established in February.

That was two months after a gofundme account, save Atlantis II the ship, was opened with the goal to raise $600,000 that would, according to the site, clear the vessel’s debts for dockage and crew expenses that also are in arrears.

As of Friday, there were no donations listed for the account.


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