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Sonar-equipped boats could solve mysteries

Dec. 31, 2012 at 4:41 PM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The head of a Seattle submarine rental company said the wreckage of lost planes such as Navy Flight 19 and Amelia Earhart's can be found -- for the right price.

Stockton Rush, chief executive officer of OceanGate, based in Seattle, said his company's small submarine equipped with sophisticated sonar recently discovered the wreckage of a World War II era Navy Hellcat fighter in 240 feet of water off the coast of Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday.

Rush said the submarine could find the wreckage of Flight 19, a Navy squadron that vanished after taking off from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1945, and the plane piloted by Amelia Earhart, who attempted to fly around the world after taking off from Miami in 1937 in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, if someone was willing to shell out the "possibly hundreds of millions" of dollars such a search would require.

"The technology to find those planes exists," Rush said. "It's really a question of, is it worth the investment?"

Frank Cantelas, head marine archaeologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, said the organization's 224-foot Okeanas Explorer would have a good chance of finding the wrecks if it was assigned to the search.

"If you pick a good survey area, sonar makes the likelihood of discovery a little better," he said.

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