Charlie Henshaw’s Treasure
The Ritz London, England
“Congratulations, David,” Prince Andrew shook David Leonard Knight’s hand at his retirement party held at The Ritz in Piccadilly. The Ritz is indeed the finest hotel in London and most assuredly the country.
Captain Knight bowed slightly at the neck as he addressed his mentor, “Thank you, your majesty. I do appreciate your attendance this evening.” Captain Knight was indeed elated the prince was here, but in reality, expected his attendance. He knew he was entitled to royal attendance. The cost of the Ritz was not as expensive as one might imagine, given Sir Charles Knight’s estate. It was a more than comfortable expense.
“I would like to have a conversation with you, David. If you do not mind, please walk with me,” the prince almost commanded. In tow was a lean greyish brown-haired gentleman standing about six feet. The man could be described as having high cheekbones and traces of a scar across his nose.
“Yes sir, how may I be of service?” Captain Knight asked.
The prince stopped, turned slightly gesturing toward the man wearing a black tuxedo with white shirt as every male in attendance was attired. “This is Dennis Kramersen, of East Carolina University. Doctor Kramersen is one of the foremost experts on maritime archaeology. Doctor Kramersen, this is Captain David Knight…retired.” The prince smiled as he interjected the paused word, into David’s title. He allowed the two men to shake hands. “David, I am putting together an expedition to hunt down lost ships of the United Kingdom and Great Britain. I would like you to captain the ship. Doctor Kramersen will be your advisor. In 2008, Doctor Kramersen discovered Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia, an 18th century Spanish Manila galleon. The ship was discovered south of Japan using Kramersen’s reconstruction of its final voyage. I believe his knowledge in the area of Maritime archaeology will be of great benefit to us and to you, if you accept the position. You will receive a handsome compensation for your position and allowed to select your own crew. Doctor Kramersen has agreed to advise us on the location of wreckages and has been invited to join you at sea. Thus far he has declined to accept my offer.”
“Well, this is certainly a lot to take in. If you would allow, sir, I must speak with Brenda about this. She believes I will be coming to reside with her in our estate at Norwich. Leonard and Charles are summering in the South of France but will return to school in September. This sounds like an opportunity I cannot refuse. I hesitatingly accept.”
“Do not fret, David. Go speak with Brenda. Let me know by the first of October if possible. Your ship is being built in Southampton and should be completed by the end of September.”
“Would you mind if we met in Southampton on the 1st of October then? I would appreciate being able to see the ship.”
“Why, yes of course, David,” Prince Andrew concluded. “I hope you do not mind if I leave you with Doctor Kramersen, but I must be off.” The prince smiled and left the Ship’s captain with the College Professor.
Trafalgar Shipyard, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
15 October 2018
The Waverly Group established their headquarters in Portsmouth across the harbour from Her Majesty's Naval Base at Portsmouth. David Knight could see the HMS Queen Elizabeth tied up at pier roughly four kilometers south of where his ship was docked. “A magnificent, ship, wouldn’t you agree, James?” Captain Knight sipped his tea as the two men stood on the bridge deck, the ship’s bow faced in a southeasterly direction. A cooling fall breeze blew from starboard in the 25-degree (C°) afternoon temperature. The two men were about to begin a new chapter in their lives.
“Yes, sir, I would agree,” James Graham responded. “But sir, I do not miss the navy.”
Captain Knight turned back to the former naval officer, now turned merchant officer. “James, I need you to hire a crew. We have two helmsmen and one engine man. I need, correction, we need an engineer, three additional engine men, a few RSOV operators, a helicopter pilot, divers, a cook or two, a Bosun, Chief of the Boat (COB) and two or three deckhands capable of operating a launch and the winch. We should hire an additional deck officer; could help on the bridge. The deck officer, engineer, and Chief should be former members of the Royal Navy or graduate of the Merchant Naval Academy. The rest may be foreigners. I will ask Dr. Kramersen again if he is available to join us. He may not be ready yet for a sabbatical.”
James Graham jotted notes down as the captain spoke. “I will post these job opportunities online and make a few phone calls to contacts from the navy. I believe Mr. Cummings, who I served with on the Victory may be available. He would make a brilliant Chief.”
“Sounds excellent, James. Snap to and make it happen.” Captain Knight turned back to staring at the Aircraft Carrier, pride of the Royal Navy. He sipped his tea, “such a glorious afternoon.”
James kept a laptop in his cabin. He set up a few online accounts with job search sites; indeed, zip recruiter, and Monster. He then phoned Derek Cummings. “Chief!” James spat into the phone. “James Graham here.” The First Officer looked around his cabin as the man spoke on the other end of the line. “Listen, I am forming a crew for a salvage ship. We are putting to sea in the spring of ’19. The captain needs a COB. I thought of you. We are funded by Royalty.” Cummings knew that meant plenty of Stirlings. “Wonderful! Yes, it will pay a hundred twenty thousand quid.” James waited for Cummings to collect himself. “Not a problem, Chief. The seventh of January would be satisfactory. We are tied up at Trafalgar Yard in Portsmouth. The ship’s name is Charles Henshaw.” James laughed at a humorous response from the 45-year-old Chief from Manchester. “See you in January.”
22 April 2019
The Charles Henshaw chugged south, piloted by a harbour pilot. Her pilot’s boat maneuvered alongside the salvage ship to retrieve the woman operating the rudder and throttle from the bridge. “A very fine ship ye, ‘ave ‘ere, Cap’n!” The pilot commented as she steered the ship at just under six knots past the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Mary Rose Museum and the HMS Victory.
The captain was obviously more interested in staring at the British Aircraft Carrier. He apparently once envisioned himself on the bridge of an aircraft carrier rather than the destroyer he did command. Then it dawned on him the pilot was speaking to him. “Yes, Miss. She was completed last fall. This is her maiden voyage.”
The ship continued south past the Railway station on the left or port side of the ship and the Gosport Terminal to Starboard. A small motorboat raced up the channel between the Charles Henshaw and the Gosport Terminal. The pilot eyeballed the smaller craft knowing it was not close enough to come in contact. Its mere presence did concern her. When the ship passed the Fort Blockhouse, a four-story brick structure on the west side of the opening to the harbor, the pilot increased the throttle, bringing the ship up to ten knots. The ship was entering the English Channel. Three fishing boats traveling in a column approximately half a kilometer apart plowed through the waves from left to right about two miles to the front right of the Henshaw. An oil tanker steamed ahead of the Henshaw coming in toward the harbor. It was still three miles out. A regatta of small sailing vessels tacked back and forth through the choppy waters of the channel about three miles to the southeast. It was a busy marine day in the English Channel near the Isle of Wight.
“We are reaching the outer marker, Captain,” the pilot announced. “Your helmsman can take over once we pass Horse Sand Fort.” She then grabbed the hand mic and transmitted, “Portsmouth Harbour, this is Charles Henshaw, over.”
“Charles Henshaw this is Portsmouth Harbor, go ahead over,” came the response.
“Portsmouth, this is Charles Henshaw, we are clear the outer marker, I am releasing the ship from harbor control, over.”
“Charles Henshaw, this is Portsmouth, roger out.”
“You have a fantastic voyage, Captain. I’ll see myself out.” The 40-something year old woman made her way out on deck, climbed the ladders down to the main deck working her way down the side of the ship to the pilot’s boat waiting below. She boarded the small craft and gave a wave back at the salvage ship as the smaller boat turned about returning to the safety of Portchester Lake and Portsmouth Harbour.”
“Mr. Graham, you have the bridge,” Captain Knight spoke as he exited the bridge.
“Aye, aye sir.” James Graham pulled up his binoculars peering out into the Channel at the ships moving back and forth in every direction. It was a very busy day out here. He lowered the binoculars, looked at the navigation chart behind the helmsman finding the ship’s current destination. “We are heading to the Med, mister Granby. Make your heading two-six-zero.”
“Aye, sir, heading two-six-zero,” the helmsman responded as he turned the large wheel. The ship leaned to port as its bow rolled to starboard.
“Increase speed to fifteen knots,” James Graham announced.
“Aye, sir, fifteen knots.” The ship continued to plug along. It would eventually head south after passing the Brittany Coast and the city of Brest, France.
The maiden voyage was almost two years ago. The ship traveled through the Mediterranean where it worked at recovering a wrecked transport about halfway between Algeria and Sardinia. They recovered mostly documents, some weapons used in North Africa in 1941 as well as a chest of jewels that may at one time belonged to Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, former ruler of Sudan from 1881 to 1885. The jewels had been secured in Egypt for much of the first half of the 20th century, then intended to be sent to the United Kingdom loaded onto the transport which was sunk by a German U-boat before it made it out of the Med.
The ship made passage through the Suez Canal to Mombasa, Kenya as its next port of call. After turning south from the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden, a small speedboat attempted to chase down the Charles Henshaw, possibly pirates attempting to board her. Either they suddenly feared seeing the British Union Jack flying from its fantail or developed engine problems. Otherwise, it never got closer than two miles and the Salvage ship completed its voyage to Mombasa.
After a five-day stint in Africa, the ship headed east to Mumbai, India. The crew took on supplies in Mumbai and received a casual visit from their benefactor, Prince Andrew. The prince spoke with Captain Knight chatting with several of the crew to see how his venture was performing. Captain Knight showed the prince the chest of Sudanese jewels which he gathered and took back to England with him. Before leaving Mumbai, Prince Andrew gave Captain Knight and Mister Graham a satchel of British currency to pay the crew, a bonus for finding the jewels and to spend on what they needed.
1 March 2022
The ship remained at sea for almost two years. They discovered twelve wrecks, recovering £50,000,000 worth of treasure and artifacts which were all promptly returned to the United Kingdom. During their voyage, the crew changed. At one point in time, they hired an Australian cook from Darwin who specialized in Asian cuisine. At another, they had an RSOV operator from San Diego, California who appeared to be quite knowledgeable of piratical raids in the Pacific, both Moros and European.
In early 2022, the Charles Henshaw found itself on a salvage operation at Latitude 15.3891857108, Longitude -158.5181395356 approximately 400 kilometers southwest of the big island of Hawaii. The Diver Down flag fluttered above the vessel alerting passing ships that there were underwater divers exploring beneath the waves.
In 1806, a fifth rate French ship named, Aquitaine, crewed by privateers went missing in the Pacific after leaving Hawaii. It was believed to have sunk closer to New Guinea, but thanks to the excellent work of Doctor Kramersen, the ship was located south of the Hawaiian Islands. The ship searched the Pacific for British flagged ships that had fled the Atlantic. The British got the better of the French privateers that day. It was believed she was carrying a small chest of gold bars containing thirty each one-pound gold bars valued at just over £650,000. Was the chest there? The crew on the deck of the Salvage ship collectively held their breath while Miss Beauregard searched below.
Report of the finding of the ship’s name plate in Hawaii.
“She doesn’t need to hear, ya’ daft bastard!” Chief Cummings, the 5’ 9” bald headed black British man scolded the Algerian deckhand, a man named Said Merabet. The Muslim obviously felt uncomfortable around Prudence Beauregard knowing she could not hear.
“I know, Chief,” Said responded out of embarrassment. “I don’t know any deaf people. Everyone can hear where I come from.”
The Manchester native and Royal Navy veteran shook his head, turned and walked away in disgust.
James Graham and Captain Knight stood on the bridge deck watching the exchange. “Sensitivity training?” the first officer asked his boss.
“Some people you just can’t fix,” the captain responded.
“Aye aye, sir.”
The Charles Henshaw had its own Wi-Fi system connecting to the internet from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Captain Knight’s cellphone rang. “This looks important, James. It’s the Prince.”
“I’ll go check on the dive,” Mr. Graham stated as he walked away.
“Yes, your majesty. How may I be of service?” Captain Knight spoke into his mobile phone.
“Listen here, David. I know you are working on recovering items from the Aquitaine and this is all good work, you and your crew are doing. I wish you to send them my best regards. The entire crew is performing a fabulous service for her majesty. But we have larger fish to fry, so to speak.” Prince Andrew’s voice gave Captain Knight the impression this was very important indeed.
“In 1851, the original Charles Henshaw was raided and left for dead twenty miles south of the Marshalls. Four frigates gave pursuit to the pirates who claimed that prize, over two tons of gold ingots taken from mines on Sarawak, along the northwest coast of Malaysia. The gold was destined to the crown in England. It is believed, the Castillo del Mar captured the gold and made away with it. Her sister ship, the [i]Lazy Susan[i] was believed to have been sunk by the British frigates, but apparently also got away.”
“What happened to the Castillo del Mar, no one knows. It has not been seen or heard from since. At least, up until two days ago. A piece of wood washed ashore on the southern tip of Ni’ihau Island in the Hawaiian Island chain. The piece of wood contained the lettering, Castillo del Mar. the gold on that ship is believed to be valued at almost a hundred million pounds. Recovering this ship and its cargo is more important than recovering the items aboard the French Privateer. It is your highest priority. Do you understand, David?”
“Aye, sir. I do.” David Knight responded to the Duke of York. “I will recover my divers and head for Ni’ihau.”
“David, there is a gentleman, you should speak to. His name is Professor Gregory Hernandez of the University of California at San Francisco. He is an expert on South Pacific studies and is believed to have some connection to the lost pirate ship. I attempted to contact him as soon as I found out. He has not responded to my calls and his mobile has apparently gone dead. He may be in the Hawaiian Island region. Keep your eye out and seek him out.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” David knight responded. The connection went silent.
After strolling to the aft section of the ship, Captain Knight approached the First Officer and Chief of the Boat. “How is the dive going?”
“Another hour and we should have it all secure to bring to the surface,” James Graham responded to the Captain’s question.
“Bring the divers in. We have new orders. I need the helicopter ready to fly as soon as possible.” The captain addressed both the Chief and the First Officer. “Mr. Graham, I need to speak to you in my office once the divers have started their ascent. Mr. Cummings, see to the divers, secure equipment and set a course along three-five-five, we are heading towards Ni’ihau in the Hawaiian Island chains. Once we are underway, please come see me in my office with the first officer.” The captain received acknowledgements from both men, turned about and headed towards his office for Early Gray and his notes on the ship they were seeking.