Steve Libert Searches For the First Ship to Sail the Great Lakes
Libert has advised searches for both the Titanic and five Navy torpedo bombers, traveling from Okinawa to Florida on diving expeditions to advise search efforts. He maintains that Griffon matches “about eight different clues,” such as testimony, maps and carbon dating of wood.
Steve Libert, an eighth grader at Wright State University alumnus and now leading an expedition team in northern Michigan that believes it has found LaSalle’s lost flagship Griffin, became obsessed with discovering it as a child.
Early Life and Education
Steve Libert has spent much of his adult life searching for the first French ship to sail across the Great Lakes – Le Griffon was first reported missing after its maiden voyage in 1679 and is believed to have dissappeared before its second voyage began. They believe they may have found its bowsprit.
Libert discovered a bowsprit while snorkeling in northern Lake Michigan in 2001. Since then, his exploration group has hypothesized that this wooden beam represents a vessel which had become trapped beneath Poverty Island after all hands aboard had perished during a catastrophic sinking incident near Poverty Island.
However, some experts are dubious of his claims. Cathy Green of Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc expressed doubt that Libert has found Griffon. Green and Ken Vrana (an archeologist advising Libert) support a thorough inspection by unaffiliated professionals before any decisions on his claims are made.
Libert was determined to locate what he believes to be French explorer Robert LaSalle’s missing Le Griffon shipwreck from 17th-century. Libert believed this Holy Grail of Great Lakes shipwrecks could lie under Lake Michigan waters.
He has dedicated over two decades of his life, including legal battles with the state and various health issues, to finding Le Griffon. However, despite these obstacles he remains firm in his belief that its location matches historical accounts.
He and his team have spent years collecting data from both surfaces and lake bottoms in an effort to pinpoint where the bowsprit should be situated; their estimate puts its location 89 miles northeast of Green Bay. Their team includes members with current or past Dayton connections such as Jim Kucharsky from Tipp City and Vance Skowronski of Dayton.
Achievement and Honors
Libert is an avid researcher fueled by history and legend. He has advised searches for the Titanic, five Navy torpedo bombers lost in the Bermuda Triangle, John Paul Jones’ warship Bon Homme Richard, and his own Bon Homme Richard; yet he considers Griffin his top priority among Great Lakes shipwrecks.
Former football player Matt Coker credits his passion for exploration to his teacher’s tales about French explorer Robert La Salle from 17th century France. Now living in Charlevoix, Mich. and leading diving expeditions for over 12 years; also an expert in digital business models and networks who advises enterprise clients; his work has been featured in “Alchemy for Business”. Alongside wife Kathie Coker he and their two children reside.
Great Lakes Exploration Group president Jonathan Weitz lives and works out of Charlevoix, Michigan; however, his work has taken him far afield. Over the last three summers, Weitz has spent his time searching for what may have been the first deck ship ever seen sailing the upper lakes: Le Griffon was an old French vessel which vanished somewhere off Huron Islands during 1679 exploration voyages and is believed to have made several trips past here before disappearing forever.
Libert and his team have amassed an impressive body of evidence they believe points directly to the location of the shipwreck, such as research on historical documents and French shipbuilding techniques. But some experts disagree.
Libert is a former college footballer whose family relocated frequently due to his father’s military duties. Upon graduating Wright State with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Libert began working at what is now the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Cohen made his fortune managing SAC Capital Advisors and founding Point72 Asset Management, overseeing an estimated $17.5 billion. An avid collector, Cohen favors Impressionist paintings as well as contemporary works such as those by KAWS or Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”.
He has made extensive investments in real estate, owning stakes in more than 70 shopping centers. Furthermore, the heir of Star Market fortune has invested in luxury homes, hotels and his Brownfields Recovery Corporation for cleaning industrial sites.
After his short professional football career was cut short due to injuries, Libert found other means of satisfying his adventurous nature. He provided consultancy on underwater treasure hunts and shipwreck searches such as those for Titanic wreckage or a possible Confederate submarine submarine.