Friday, February 29, 2008

XVIII. Sonar Search Complete

Update: Mon 03-March 1345 hrs
With the sonar search completed, the RV Persistence sets sail heading to its home port in Louisiana. With mixed emotions, the search team returns home. When we arrived in Aruba in mid-December we were mentally prepared to return home either having found Natalee, or after having exhausted all possibilities in the quest to find her. It is difficult going home with many questions left unanswered and so many sonar targets remaining to be explored. Our comfort lies in knowledge that we have done the best job we could, that we can return to dive on the remaining targets when funded, and that answers may come in time. We feel that the search is not over but rather entering a new phase. We are thankful for the outpouring of generosity, love, support, and prayers throughout the entire search effort.

Sat 01-March 0915 hrs
Since the 16th of December, off the west coast of Aruba the search team on board the RV Persistence has been combing the sea floor of an area 80% the size of Aruba. The Herculean side scan sonar search is complete. With a complete picture of entire search area's seabed, a final ROV dive target list will be constructed. This list is expected to well-exceed 100 targets. The timing and extent of the remaining ROV dive operations depends on weather, logistics, and funding.
The team is weary, yet filled with a sense of accomplishment. The team has performed very well even under the intense pressure, difficult terrain, rough seas, and often grueling pace.

Friday, February 8, 2008

XVII. Support the Effort

Update: Wed 27-Feb 1245 hrs
Over the past several days, the Persistence has been working with the help of the Aruban police in shallow water. The Police safely escorted boaters out of the area allowing the Persistence to work and maneuver freely.
Fri 22-Feb 1300 hrs
The Persistence is working in shallow waters today. Working in shallow waters is in one sense a relief compared to the deep water areas. The shallower water is protected by the island both in terms of wind and currents. As a result, the area is serene and beautiful. On the other hand, the shallow water area contains its own set of hazards. Closer to shore, passing boats, coral, and underwater obstructions increase the risk of damaging equipment.

Sun 17-Feb 1700 hrs
The decision to not immediately re-arrest Joran van der Sloot has not affected the resolve of the search team. Despite the poor weather, survey operations continue.

Fri 15-Feb 1100 hrs
Over the past few days, progress in the deep water areas has been hampered by 14ft seas and 30kt+ wind. The conditions are simply too rough to work safely. Today, the Persistence headed out to the survey area, completed a single line, and headed back to the dock after getting pounded in the rough conditions.

Special Notice:
The dedicated ocean search for Natalee Holloway has been underway since mid-November, 2007. What began in Louisiana during mobilization now culminating in Aruba, the search has utilized some of the best search equipment and personnel in the world. To date, approximately 900 miles of sonar data has been collected covering a geographic area 80% the size of Aruba. The search has required a painstakingly slow approach which in the end leaves no stone unturned.

Although slow, this approach is extremely effective in marine search and recovery. Since the beginning, the search has been privately funded by Louis Schaefer Jr. of Underwater Expeditions who remarkably and gracefully accepted the financial burden when requested by Texas Equusearch and Natalee's parents. John Silvetti of Marine Surveys, Greg Landry of Offshore Innovative Solutions, Erik McGuire of Seatronics, along with Agiosat and Wilkens Weather Service came beside Louis to conduct this humanitarian effort. To put this search effort in financial perspective, an equivalent search conducted for industry would involve costs well exceeding several million dollars. This project has been conducted for about 35 cents on the dollar, with costs still exceeding a million dollars.

Although we have searched and ruled out an extensive portion of the original planned search area, a substantial portion of the high-probability area yet remains to be explored. Now, following a publicly confirmed admission that Natalee Holloway was disposed at sea, we are confident that completing the focused search area will bring closure. We therefore formally invite and request anyone who this humanitarian effort has touched to get involved and to help support the remaining search efforts. Donations are being handled by Texas Equusearch, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Please come beside those who have already given so much to help ensure a proper funeral in Alabama for Natalee Holloway. Please make all donations marked as: "Holloway search".

To learn more about Texas Equusearch and to help support the search for Natalee Holloway, check out:

Texas EquuSearch Office:
4013 FM 517, Suite B
Dickinson, Texas 77539
P. O. Box 395, Dickinson, Texas 77539

Office: (281) 309-9500
Fax: (281) 534-6719
Toll Free: (877) 270-9500

Friday, February 1, 2008

XVI. Recent Development

Update: Fri 08-Feb 1625 hrs
The weather over the past few days has been steadily prohibitive to work. Each day, the Persistence has left the dock, headed offshore, and gotten pounded by 40kt winds and 10-14ft seas. The rough weather has taken a toll on both the equipment and the crew. The towfish was damaged twice during recovery, each time taking half a day or more to repair. While the poor weather persists, the Persistence will undergo some needed maintenance. Today we are working on the winch and air conditioning. Hopefully tomorrow will be calmer.
Tues 05-Feb 0940 hrs
Over the past couple nights, the world tuned in along with the search team and watched the mottled confessions of Joran van der Sloot. The confessions filled the search team with resolve, renewing our assurance that if Natalee Holloway can be found in the ocean we will find her.
Yesterday (Tues, 04-Feb), the Persistence was in the deepest portion of the survey area battling 12-14ft with occasional 16ft seas with 35kt winds. The weather built rapidly, spawning a squall and water spout.
Today, we returned to deep water encountering 40kt+ winds and heavier seas than yesterday. A simple task such as taking a shower or walking down a corridor takes gymnastic talent. These seas are too rough to safely work in, let alone function inside the boat. On account of the conditions, we moved to shallow quiescent waters and resumed the search.

Fri 01-Feb 1815 hrs
The Persistence search team and crew are very excited about the recent developments announced yesterday, Thursday January 31st. We are currently acquiring data and have not stopped or changed our search methods in response to the announcement. We too wait with anticipation and hope the outcome is both positive and accurate for the remainder of the ongoing investigation.

Our hearts and prayers are with the Holloway and Twitty families.

Press Release:
From The (Aruba) Public Prosecutor’s Office
Date: January 31, 2007

New evidence in the case of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway-
The Office of the Public Prosecutor of Aruba has intensified its investigation of the case of Natalee Holloway due to recently received information. This information may shed a new light on the mode of which Natalee Holloway has died and the method by which her body disappeared.

The Public Prosecutor has lately received this information from the Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. This information may help considerably in the solution of the mystery of Natalee’s disappearance.

In cooperation with the Aruban Police Corps, the Office is currently investigating the reliability and value of this new information. It will be evaluated in relation to the results of the preceding profound research activities. The Aruban Police Corps has continued the investigation of the case despite the formal discontinuation of the prosecution of the suspects of the day, in December 2007. Commissioned investigators are currently charged with further inquiries.

In the interest of the ongoing investigation no further information will be circulated.
Nota bene: the Office of Public Prosecutor will not give any interviews about the matter at hand at this moment, not by telephone, neither on camera.
Web Development Services