Monday, August 10, 2009

John Barry Bar & Treasure

John Barry Bar – Grand Hyatt Muscat Oman - & - Treasure

Address:Hayy as saruj st, Ministry area ,Muscat , Oman
Telephone 24 641234


Lonely Planet review Jenny Walker Lonely Planet author

Pure kitsch! The exterior owes much to Disney, while its stained-glass-and-marble interior is a cross between Art Deco and a royal Bedouin tent. This beachside hotel nonetheless cuts the mustard for the international business community.

If you sit sipping tea long enough in the extravagant foyer of this sumptuous hotel, chances are you'll worry that the tea was laced. The statue of the Arab on horseback that graces the central podium moves just slowly enough to make you suspect you've joined the flight of fancy that inspired the architects. Rumour has it, in fact, that a Yemeni prince designed the hotel and, like it or loathe it, it's an interior to be experienced. While traditionally more focused on the well-heeled business community, there is much in this majestic marble-clad hotel to appeal to the sophisticated holidaymaker too, including an excellent Italian restaurant called the Tuscany. The John Barry Bar, named after the raised ship and its booty of silver treasure that made the fortunes of the Hyatt's owner, makes a comfortable venue for relaxing with a cocktail and live piano music.


Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, May 14, 2009

Grand Hyatt Muscat proudly presents the new resident band at John Barry Bar, “Moonglow”, which will perform over the summer months.

Jazzy Summer Tunes Listen to the jazzy tunes of “Moonglow” at John Barry Bar, and let the new resident duo, pianist Mos and singer Valerie, from Canada dazzle you with their music. “Moonglow” will provide an evening full of entertainment, with songs and music ranging from jazz and Latin to love songs from around the globe.

The members of “Moonglow” have gained acclaim performing extended engagements throughout Asia, Australia, Africa, the US and Canada, and continue to pursue new and old venues.

You can listen to “Moonglow” perform nightly in the John Barry Bar every Saturday to Tuesday from 8:45pm to 12:30am and from 9:15pm to 1:00am every Wednesday and Thursday.

John Barry Bar

The nautically themed John Barry Bar, accessed from the hotel lobby, tells the story of a quest for hidden treasure at the bottom of the Arabian Sea. Named after the famous wreck of the SS John Barry, this comfortable and exclusive lounge bar sets the scene for an elegant business or social gathering. The bar staff has a wealth of information about the history of this delightful venue, and can share interesting anecdotes, maps and memorabilia that unfold the quaint story of hotel-owner Sheikh Ahmed Farid Al Aulaqi’s adventurous attempt to salvage the SS John Barry. Nightly entertainment by a jazz duo lends to the inviting ambience.

John Barry Bar is open from Saturday to Tuesday from 6:00pm to 1:00am, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6:00pm to 2:00am.

For bookings and information, call Grand Hyatt Muscat on 2464 1234 ext. 1137. John Barry
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Name: SS John Barry
Fate: sunk on 28 August 1944
General characteristics
Tonnage: 7,176 tons
Length: 416 ft (127 m)
Speed: 12 knots

The SS John Barry was a 7200-ton American liberty ship in World War II. The ship left itsconvoy under radio silence to go on a mission to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia when it was torpedoed 185 kilometers off the coast of Omanby the German submarine U-859 on 28 August 1944. Two crewmen were killed in the sinking and the survivors were rescued the next day. The SS John Barry was carrying a cargo of 3 million American-minted Saudi one-riyal silvercoins as an American payment associated withARAMCO. The reason for this shipment (one of several during the war) was that Saudi Arabia did not use paper money at the time and this led to a war time shortage of currency with which to pay workers building new oil refineries and other US facilities at newly founded Dhahran.

Because the exact nature of the cargo was a secret, rumors spread that the SS John Barrycarried a vast shipment of 26 million US$ (1944 value) worth of silver bullion to India as well as the smaller cargo of coins. After the recovery effort of this purported treasure failed (see below), it was discovered that all silver shipments to India were accounted for and a new destination for the silver bullion was theorized, the Soviet Union.

The ship had sunk to 8500 feet below the sea surface, far beyond the reaches of most undersea recovery methods. Forty-five years later, however, Skeikh Ahmed Farid al Aulaqi was granted salvage rights. Brian Shoemakerand Jay Fiondella, owner of Chez Jay, a celebrity-renowned seafood dive in Santa Monica, California, decided to raise the money to retrieve the John Barry. Contractors fromHouston, Texas were initially involved in the search, and their efforts were later augmented by the Toulon-based Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer(IFREMER). In October 1994, a modified drilling ship, Flex LD, carrying a 50-ton video-equipped grab designed by IFREMER, sailed to the location of the John Barry. By early November, much of the ship had been excavated, revealing vintage US Army trucks, tanks, and military equipment. Soon after, the first sign of silver was seen (though initially the video feed was clouded by the ship's oil sticking to the camera lens). Over the next five days, the grab brought up 1.3 million Saudi riyals weighing 17 tons and showered them onto the drill-ship's deck. The purported Indian/Soviet silver was nowhere to be found, although the salvagers were unable to access all the locations they suspected the silver might rest. While some plans have surfaced to relaunch the recovery effort, none have come to fruition.

Retired U.S. Navy Captain Brian Shoemaker, former General Counsel of the Navy Hugh O'Neill, and Mr. Jay Fiondella, owner of Chez Jay, a celebrity-renowned seafood dive in Santa Monica, California, successfully bid for the salvage rights from the U. S. Government.In order to raise the money to retrieve the John Barry they formed a partnership called "The John Barry Group".

The Silver Ship Categories: Liberty ships | Ships sunk by German submarines | World War II shipwrecks in the Arabian Sea,0,6296224.story


Jay Fiondella dies at 82; flamboyant owner of Chez Jay made the restaurant a Santa Monica landmark

Los Angeles Times

One of the trademarks of Jay Fiondella's Chez Jay are the peanuts served to customers, who toss the shells onto the floor. In 1971, Fiondella persuaded astronaut Alan Shepard to take one of the restaurant's peanuts to the moon and back. Fiondella recalled that he told Shepard: "I want to have the first astro-nut."

By Valerie J. Nelson
November 13, 2008

Jay Fiondella, the flamboyant owner of Chez Jay, the scruffy restaurant-bar he opened almost 50 years ago that became a Santa Monica landmark and something of a shrine to his exploits as an adventurer, has died. He was 82.

Fiondella died Nov. 6 at a Santa Monica care facility after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, his family said.

Photos: Jay Fiondella | 1926-2008

In 1959, he was hustling for small acting parts and tending bar on the Santa Monica Pier when he heard about a small coffee shop for sale on Ocean Avenue and decided to turn it into Chez Jay.

From the start, Chez Jay drew celebrities. One reason was that Fiondella carefully protected them from fans and gawkers, according to a 2002 Times article on "splendid dives." When customers walked in with cameras, he threw them out.

Through 2007, Fiondella worked regularly at Chez Jay, which invariably earned good reviews for its steaks and seafood. Co-owner Michael Anderson will continue to run the restaurant.

After opening Chez Jay, Fiondella brought his widowed mother, Alice, west to help run the place with the sawdust floors so he would not have to give up his swashbuckling ways.

Mementos from his trips were hung on the restaurant's walls.

A competitive hot-air balloonist, he helped finance the 1973 search for the treasure of the sunken ocean liner Andrea Doria that turned up "silverware, a bottle of perfume and some trays," Fiondella said at the time.

Two decades later, he was part of a team that recovered silver coins worth millions from the wreck of the John Barry, a U.S. merchant ship that was torpedoed off the coast of Oman during World War II.

He reveled in taking chances and in creating a romantic image for himself but never seemed to miss an opportunity to promote the tiny restaurant that made his travels possible. Recounting an archaeological dig in the Arabian Desert, Fiondella said he ran into four Chez Jay customers.

When his homemade, 65-foot replica pirate ship toppled off a trailer in 1989 while being hauled down Culver Boulevard, it caused a massive rush-hour traffic jam and briefly made him a cable news star.

"Every time they got a little sound bite from him, he always managed to slip in the restaurant's name and address," said Jon Stebbins, who is finishing a biography of Fiondella that he wrote with the restaurateur.

The boat Fiondella had worked on for 25 years "was my shrink, my guru, my Shangri-La," he told The Times in 1989. "I could go on it and drink a beer and think I was in Tahiti. Now it's history. . . . It's the USS Never Sail."

Stories of the famous who hung out at Chez Jay were often repeated: Daniel Ellsberg, who worked at the nearby Rand Corp., supposedly passed the Pentagon Papers to a reporter there. Marlon Brando allegedly waltzed off with a waitress. Henry Kissinger spent so much time in the back, a rear table was dubbed the "Kissinger Room."

In the early 1950s, Fiondella roomed with actor Leonard Nimoy, who told The Times in an e-mail: "He was a gregarious, great guy. . . . I ate at his place occasionally. Always had great stories and good food."

Jay Anthony Fiondella was born Aug. 6, 1926, in East Haven, Conn. His mother was a teacher and his father was an artist who often took him hunting for Indian artifacts.

During World War II, Fiondella was a Navy Seabee who served in the Philippines and China. After the war, he attended the University of Miami and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting after a brief marriage ended in divorce.

Between 1958 and 2000, he had small parts in about 30 films and TV shows and used Jay Della as his stage name. His first role was in the series "Sea Hunt," and his last was in the movie "Luck of the Draw."

Alan Shepard, commander of Apollo 14, was dining at Chez Jay when Fiondella persuaded him to take one of the restaurant's trademark peanuts with him to the moon in 1971, Fiondella often said.

He recalled telling the astronaut: "I want to have the first astro-nut."

When Shepard returned the legume, he reportedly signed an affidavit that stated it had accompanied him to the moon.

"Jay used to carry the peanut around in his pocket and put it down on the bar," Stebbins said. "One time, actor Steve McQueen put it in his mouth and Jay had to wrestle with him to get it away."

Alice Fiondella, who helped run Chez Jay for 30 years, was hit by a car while crossing Ocean Avenue near the restaurant in 1991 and died at 89.

Fiondella's second wife died.

His survivors include a daughter, Anita Fiondella Eck; a son, Chaz Fiondella; and a sister, Rita Luarte.

A celebration of Fiondella's life will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at Chez Jay, 1657 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica. Those planning to attend should call (310) 395-1741.

Nelson is a Times staff writer.

The SS John Barry: Lost and Found Off the Omani Coast
Focus on Oman

The Mission of The American International School of Muscat is to pursue academic excellence for all students in the international community through an American-based education that develops ethical, responsible, and globally conscious lifelong learners.

The SS John Barry was a humble cargo vessel. Built in Oregon, it was one of several thousand “Liberty Ships” used during World War II to carry raw materials, industrial goods, and military supplies to American allies. In the middle of the long, desperate
summer of 1944, the SS John Barry, under the command of Captain Joseph Ellerwald, sailed in a convoy from Norfolk Virginia, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, and finally arrived safely in Port Said, Egypt. After a brief
stopover, the ship steamed south, alone, through the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean toward its final destination, Ras Tanurah, in the Persian Gulf.

None of the crewmen knew that, in addition to the standard cargo of heavy equipment, the SS John Barry carried three million, silver one-riyal coins. (See photo.) The coins had been minted in Philadelphia and were intended as a loan for King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, whose economy was collapsing under the financial strains caused by the war.

Captain Ellerwald maintained radio silence as he guided his ship along the South Arabian coast toward the Persian Gulf. On August 28, the ship was only 100 nautical miles off the shores of Oman. No one aboard detected the silent approach of
U-859, a German submarine under the command of Captain Lieutenant Johann Jebson. Keeping his U-Boat safely beneath the surface, Commander Jebson observed the SS John Barry through his periscope.

Then, after determining the necessary coordinates, he ordered the firing of two torpedoes. The first streaked past the John Barry, but the second slammed into the vessel’s starboard side. After several minutes, the U-859 launched a third torpedo which struck the port side, causing tremendous damage. Two sailors died in the attack. The survivors jumped overboard and clung to floating debris or clambered into life-rafts.

Within minutes, the vessel broke in two and sank beneath the waves -carrying its valuable cargo down 2,600 meters to the ocean floor. Certain of his “kill,” Captain Jebson left the scene and headed east. (On August 31, the U-859 sank another ship,
the Troilus. On September 23, however, Captain Jebson and most of his crew died when the U-859 was sunk by the British submarine, the HMS Trenchant, in the Straits of Malacca.)

For over forty years, sailors and treasure hunters told stories about the fate of the SS John Barry and the nature of its mysterious cargo. (Rumors spread that the ship carried 26 million dollars in silver bullion - a secret payment to Joseph Stalin to secure his help in weakening British influence in the Middle East.) But however enticing the wreck was to potential treasure seekers, its great depth (over two and a half kilometers) offered little hope that salvagers would ever even locate the ship.

Then in 1991, with the financial support of a wealthy Yemeni, Sheikh Ahmed
Farid al Aulaqui, an international team of deep-sea recovery specialists managed to identify the wreck by using cameras and sonar equipment attached to remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). For the next three years the group planned one of the most daring and complicated salvage operations ever attempted. In late October 1994, they successfully lowered a deep-water excavating device and penetrated the hold of the SS John Barry. For seven days the team worked against fatigue and the increasingly bad weather to remove what treasure they could from the vessel’s hold. By mid-November, they managed to bring an astonishing 1.3 million silver coins to the surface - nearly half of the original consignment. In doing so, they also ensured that the humble SS John Barry would live on in the annals of maritime lore as one of the greatest treasure ships of modern times.

Robert Jackson
HS Social Studies


ynotoman said...

You are right; The Grand Hyatt (or Hyatt Regency as it was called when opened) was built to the design preferences of Sheikh Ahmed. His family ruled one of the mini states in what is now Yemen (previously South Yemen) . He is by nature a buccaneer so its entirely appropriate that he organized the machinations behind the salvage

Bill Kelly said...

Hello Ynotoman,

Thanks for dropping by. I checked out your site -

And am flabergasted at the fact that you were the first to report the next venue for the America's Cup! I was at Newport, Freemantle and San Diego, and look forward to visiting you in Ras-al-Khaimah.

Please give us a rundown on the facilities there.

Many thanks, Bill Kelly

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