From the Rothera Historical Society historians:
At the onset of 2536 CE, the search for the Antarctic Collective’s missing defense ship Golden Pear had intensified. The High Council initiated an emergency investigation into the Pear’s disappearance after the Navy lost contact with one of its most advanced ships on December 12th, 2535 CE, near Bouvet Island. The bitter partisan disagreements over where and how to focus their search efforts sparked a political firestorm within the Council. This lack of unity led to slow action, many false leads, and misleading assumptions about the Pear’s fate, stoking public anxiety over the countries’ security.
Rumors of insidious invaders infesting the Southern Ocean permeated the media in 2535 CE, even before the Pear went missing. The question of what could have happened to the legendary defenseship to cause it to vanish before it could even send a help signal deeply disturbed Antarctica’s citizens. It pushed existing speculation of dastardly intruders into incredible new heights after the disappearance was made public. Antarcticans began to invent their own theories about what happened to the Pear, lacking transparency and plausible answers from their government. On January 19th, 2536 CE, fear gave way to terror when the High Council shut down Antarctica’s entire shoreline to non-military due to “security concerns.” The economic fallout over this move ignited civil unrest and some rioting within all four territories.
Desperate to reopen the seaports, High Counselor Tyrell Welford of Territory 3 forced a bill through the Middle Council known as the Pear Act on February 3rd, 2536 CE. This authorized commercial and private entities to work alongside the navy in collecting evidence for the investigation into the Golden Pear’s fate. Participating groups were tasked with salvaging any wayward artifact suspected of having Antarctic Collective origins within a 2,500 km radius of Bouvet Island. Any independent crew was allowed to use any means necessary to carry out their salvage operation successfully. Bounties were paid for any viable evidence returned to naval ports.
Under Welford’s Pear Act, it was assumed that a sudden and overwhelming demonstration of force destroyed the Golden Pear. Therefore the “evidence” they were ultimately searching for was debris that may have belonged to the defense ship. In carrying out their mission, salvage crews skimmed for floating debris, scoured nearby shorelines, and conducted risky underwater searches. However, the most lucrative method for finding bounty worth evidence was capturing and confiscating some of the thousands of vagrant vessels that littered the ocean’s waves.
Oceanbourne homeless living in stateless, vagrant vessels were ubiquitous in the waters of the southern hemisphere. According to official records, only 213 vagrant vessels were confiscated for possessing some form of salvaged item that originated from the Antarctican navy. Council officials could never verify that the salvage recovered from these vessels had ever belonged to the Antarctic Collective Ship Golden Pear. If something destroyed Pear in the open sea, there would undoubtedly be vagrant vessels in the area to claim the salvage.
On April 11th, 2536 CE, the High Council had reached a consensus over the Pear’s fate leading them into the first Polar War. The Pear Act, which was never assigned an expiration, remained in effect. In the interest of national security, the Middle Council amended the bill on January 1st, 2537 CE, changing the language to authorize the continued search for salvage belonging to “any Antarctic Collective ship.”