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Robert Mester

Robert Mester



Underwater Admiralty Sciences
2002 - present; Co-Founder.

Underwater Admiralty Sciences, 

a non-profit organization developed to promote the exploration, identification, documentation and recovery of submerged cultural resources.  UAS provides professional services, expertise and guidance to promote, preserve, present and protect the marine environment with special emphasis on submerged cultural resources and maritime heritage.

Robert Mester is a co-founder of the organization and is currently the Director of Undersea Technologies and Operations.

Robert Mester oversees the employment of the proper technologies and field operations of the organization’s projects with the other directors, Board of Advisors, staff, volunteers and necessary state and federal agencies.  He has worked on the following projects:

  • Development of education programs with the Naval Undersea Museum Foundation and Bainbridge High School and a separate program with the Museum of Flight.
  • Planning and development of the B-314 Pan Am Clipper Discovery project.
  • Labrador B-17G Recovery project documentary.
  • Development and of the salvage plan and training of the recovery team for the B-17 recovery operation in Labrador, Canada.
  • Creation of the recovery plan and coordination of the expedition planning for the B-17G Project.
  • Consultation with Washington State agencies concerning the adverse affects of construction on the historic remains of the original Tacoma Narrow Bridge “Galloping Gertie”.
  • Planning, deployment and recovery of fisheries studies technology for the Squaxin Indian Tribe.  
  • Location and recovery of a Cessna 170 aircraft and human remains from southern Puget Sound.
  • Frequently presents on the topics of aircraft recovery and submerged cultural resources.

Northwest Maritime Consultants, LLC
2004 - present; Partner.

Northwest Maritime Consultants, LLC  provides professional services in marine damage survey, accident investigation, marine salvage, private aids to navigation, undersea technology and general marine consulting.

Robert Mester is a highly experienced marine salvor with extensive knowledge and experience in vessel location and salvage and recovery operations.  He is Federally recognized as an expert in salvage operations and marine salvage law.  He is responsible for the drafting of Washington States current laws regarding marine and aircraft salvage.  Robert Mester is also recognized as an expert in the field of undersea technology and is highly skilled in operation and management of sonar, ROV and submersible operations.   

  • Design and installation of Private Aids to Navigation for the Ports of Tacoma and Kalama.
  • Side scan sonar and ROV inspections of sewer outfalls for the City of Tacoma.
  • Represented two major insurers for 12 vessels destroyed in the Harborview Marina Fire in Gig Harbor in 2005.  Resulted in prompt service and settlements to vessel owners while significantly reducing costs to clients of the salvage and wreckage disposal.
  • Consultation and investigation of sources of oil spills in Commencement Bay.

Underwater Atmospheric Systems, Inc.
1989 - 2004; Founder

Developed to provide state of the art undersea technological services to the marine industry through the use of side scan sonar, hardsuit single atmosphere diving systems and ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) technologies:

        Projects included:

  • Hardsuit oil field inspection and repairs in the North Sea 1993 to 1994.
  • Geological survey for the US Navy using side scan sonar at three different sites off Key West, Florida.
  • Side scan sonar and sub bottom profile survey for the Government of Panama.
  • Side scan sonar survey and location of a World War II Imperial Japanese Navy Submarine in the Atlantic Ocean at a depth of 17,067 FSW
  • Side scan sonar survey, location and identification of World War II Allied and Axis combat aircraft near St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Location of Lord Horatio Nelson’s favorite ship of the line, HMS Agamemnon, which contains the only known cannon to survive from the Battle of Trafalgar.
  • Location, exploration and ongoing salvage of a 17th century armed freighter carrying a battalion of infantry to Uruguay in the early 1800’s.
  • Spanish submerged cultural resources on the English Banks, Uruguay; graveyard to 1,000 ships.
  • Located and identified for recovery more than 150 WWII era military aircraft worldwide
  • Robert Mester was one of the founding members of Pro Sea, an international organization formed to address the efforts and concerns of professional salvors world wide, and their interactions with archaeologist and government agencies.

Admiralty Law
1984 - Present

Mr. Mester is not and admiralty attorney, but has extensive expertise in admiralty law from and its application involving salvage and ownership of submerged cultural resources, shipwrecks and aircraft wrecks.  He has been instrumental in the following:

  • Drafted the current shipwreck and aircraft wreck laws for Washington State in 1990.
  • Assisted in drafting the Federal Shipwreck Act of 1991 to include the rules and regulations.
  • Placed the submerged remains of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, “Galloping Gertie” on the City, County, State and National Register of Historic Places.
  • Consulted by attorneys regarding laws of admiralty and shipwreck legislation of 1991.
  • Received an ACE, (Award for cable excellence), for a documentary produced about the bridge and its nomination to the historical register
  • Has been active in federal actions involving submerged wrecks up to and including action before the US Supreme Court.
  • In 1991 Mr. Mester negotiated and obtained the first foreign salvage contract with the Office of Prefectura and the Presidency, in the country of Uruguay.
  • 1991 – 1998 Robert Mester negotiated other Admiralty/Salvage agreements in the countries of Russia, Canada, Venezuela, Panama and Newfoundland.
  • In 1993, as a member of ProSea, (Professional Shipwreck Explorers Association) ProSea successfully addressed UNESCO’s effort to stop all salvage worldwide.
  • 1997 Robert Mester helped revamp new rules and regulation with Washington State’s Submerged Historical Shipwreck and Submerged Historical Aircraft laws.
  • 2006 Robert Mester and company has entered into a consulting role on the recovery of two WWII era Bird Cage Vought Corsair aircraft in a freshwater lake in Maine.  The aircraft are Royal Navy aircraft with human remains. 

Maritime Ventures, Inc.

1984 - 1989 Founder

MTV (Maritime Venture Inc.,) was formed to manage the location and recovery project on the S.S. Governor located off Point Wilson in 240 FSW Port Townsend, Washington.  April 1st 1921 The SS Governor and the SS West Hartland collided at 11:40 PM and the Governor sunk claiming 4 lives and a considerable amount of gold and personal possession in her pursers safe.  

Robert Mester performed the first arrest and in Rem action on a shipwreck for salvage in Washington State waters.  Robert Successfully secured the vessel from the state’s control and performed a salvage operation in 1987 using a saturation system owned by Can-Dive, Vancouver BC.

Worldwide Divers

1973 - 1976; Diver

Performed commercial diving services that routinely involved placement of explosives for clearing shipping lanes and underwater construction of new port facilities, docks and other marine structures.

A majority of the work occurred in the South China Sea in and around Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.


  • Part of the team that recovered human remains of the crew from the Imperial Japanese Navy Submarine I-169 in Truk Lagoon.
  • Logged over 2000 hours underwater in various commercial applications.

Military Service

United States Marine Corps 

1970 - 1972; Force Recon - scout

Rank – E-4

Training – Platoon Honor Man, Top Secret Clearance, Jump Qualified

Explosives and demolition, Land mines Warfare and Booby Trap trained (Top Graduate), expert marksman, escape and evasion, POW trained, Hydrographic surveys, IBS school.

Tours of Duty - Viet Nam, Okinawa

Units Served – 1St Force Recon, 1St Marine Division

     1st Marine Division, 3rd Battalion 9th Marines


Fort Steilacoom Community College 1973 to 1974

Graduated AA degree

University of Puget Sound 1974

Political Science and Pre-law

Professional Association of Diving Instructors College 1974

Graduates as Open Water Instructor #8029

Klein Side Scan Sonar school 1992

Certified as a Side Scan sonar operator and technician

CLE (Continuing Legal Education - University of Washington) 1993

Symposium on, “Laws of Admiralty”

Hazwoppers Certified 2002 – present

Hazardous material handing and toxic spill clean-up certified

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