As announced last week, you will be aware the initial salvage programme was suspended and is to be continued as early as possible in 2018. This followed a deterioration in weather conditions and the discovery of munitions on board.
We were aware that going out late in the year might leave us subject to increasingly bad weather but having made a commitment in our Private Placing Memorandum(PPM) to start operations in 2017, we felt we had an adequate window of opportunity. The discovery of munitions however was unforeseen, and we are seeking the advice of disposal experts to carry out the necessary risk assessment and establish the basis on which we might return to the site.
Having collected all salvage information, the BGL Board will meet in early January to decide, not only on planned date of departure to continue operations but also to review all research information on our favoured targets including that provided by third parties. The significant publicity received by BGL over the recent months has resulted in our receiving additional information from many sources which, in some cases, either validates our research or causes us to reassess the latter. As we review our targets for the completion of the first cluster, we are also utilising the services of a specialist history department at a leading British university to effectively audit our research and conclusions.
In preparation for continuing our salvage programme, we are also reviewing and assessing various recently developed equipment and technologies which could augment our research and assist in identifying cargoes, not only on the wrecks, but also in the surrounding seabed areas where we increasingly believe some displaced cargoes might lie.
Following the initial salvage programme, we have had detailed contact with the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Receiver of Wrecks who are now fully aware of BGL’s plans and ambitions. In addition, we continue to contact other branches or associates of Government to initiate more detailed discussions as to the likely Government requirements following a successful recovery. It is hoped that by the time we return to sea, we will have a more formal understanding of what these might be.
It is probable our salvage operation will recommence in March/April 2018 and with no likely adverse weather conditions, we will be able to conclude our first cluster salvage programme without interruption. Given successful recovery, we would continue with further salvage operations throughout the year.
However, we are also in preliminary discussions with two US investment houses that are minded to fund significant salvage programmes. Both see BGL and its constituent stakeholders as the ideal joint venture partner and effective “project manager”. Should these discussions conclude successfully, and we very much hope they do, they provide BGL with the opportunity to consider multiple clusters which would provide us with greater revenue possibilities. In neither case would this involve any dilution of BGL; the company will ideally share equally in the joint venture revenues which would be distributed to BGL shareholders as dictated by the PPM.
As above, operational decisions will be taken in early January 2018 and I will report back to shareholders soon thereafter.
Philip Reid | Chairman