— A plan to hunt for Amelia Earhart's long-lost airplane by using a deep-sea robotic submarine outfitted in San Diego has produced a lawsuit. Earhart was on one of the final legs of her attempt to fly around the world on July 2, 1937, when her plane disappeared over the South Pacific. Ever since, her fate has been speculated about and spawned numerous search missions, the latest of which was bankrolled by wealthy Santa Fe, New Mexico, resident R. Michael Kammerer. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Kammerer founded a company called In Search of Amelia Earhart LLC and hired San Diego-based Oceanworkers, LP to refurbish, outfit, and pilot an underwater, sonar-equipped robot. The mission was supposed to have targeted a 2000-square-nautical-mile area near Howland Island, where Earhart was last heard from. The water there is more than three miles deep. A suit filed in federal court in Albuquerque, the paper says, provides details of the aborted search mission. It was to have started in March, would have covered 83 square nautical miles a day, and cost between $400,000 to $500,000 to refurbish and test the robotic sub. If Oceanworkers succeeded, the paper reports, it stood to gain a $750,000 bonus. But the deal went sour, according to the lawsuit, when the submarine's performance came up short. "In sum, relative to Oceanworkers original representations, In Search of Amelia Earhart would have to pay twice as much for a vehicle that will perform, at best, half as well and twice as expensively," the lawsuit said. The paper says that the submarine, formerly known as AUSS, is a used Navy ARGUS model that was obtained through an agreement with the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center here. Though the San Diegans are out of the search, the quest for the airplane continues. Phoenix International, an outfit out of Landover, Maryland, has been hired to replace Oceanworkers, whose spokesman declined comment.

Ballpark, East Del Mar resident Arthur E. Nicholas, the San Diego State grad who got rich as founder of Nicholas-Applegate Capital Management, LP, the investment outfit purchased last year by Germany's Allianz AG for $980 million, has surfaced in Boston as one of the new owners of the Red Sox. The Boston Globe reported last week that, according to bid documents it obtained, Nicholas was expected to invest $12 million in the $700 million Red Sox deal, masterminded by ex-Padre honcho Larry Lucchino, and John Henry, who made his bundle in commodities. Nicholas, a legendary stock picker, also owns the biggest spread on the beach in Del Mar and two years ago sold a 38th-floor penthouse condo in downtown's posh Harbor Club for more than $4.6 million, at the time a record price. His spokesman declined comment ... The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters reports that North County Republican congressman Darrell Issa is interested in taking on Democratic senator Barbara Boxer when she comes up for reelection in two years. Issa, who ran briefly against then-San Diego mayor Susan Golding when both unsuccessfully sought the Boxer seat four years ago, was the alleged target of Jewish extremists who, federal prosecutors say, sought to bomb his office in December. He is of Lebanese descent ... The City of San Diego is on the verge of getting another five-year extension from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its waiver to dump its less-than-pristine sewage into the Pacific, reports the Orange County Register.

More investments Second District city council candidate Wayne Raffesberger reports owning between $10,000 and $100,000 worth of stock in Peregrine, the big software outfit founded by Padres owner John Moores. Raffesberger's official financial statement also reports he owns between $2000 and $10,000 in Leap Wireless, the Qualcomm spin-off, where Moores once served as a member of the board before resigning last year ... High-powered East Coast political consultant Kimball W. Brace, the son of the late Channel 10 station manager Clayton Brace, is making headlines in Rhode Island as head of that state's legislative redistricting plan. A Democrat, the junior Brace was a KGTV weekend assignment editor at 18 but "soon fled San Diego's conservatism for American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a degree in political science," according to the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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