PORT TOWNSEND, WASH. -- A dangerous deep-water dive that brought up diamond rings, watches and gold coins from a sunken luxury liner was suspended on its ninth day Sunday without recovery of the purser's safe containing an estimated $1.5 million worth of jewels and cash.

Increasingly adverse tides and currents forced Maritime Ventures to end temporarily the salvage operation of the SS Governor, a 412-foot luxury liner that for the past 66 years had been 240 feet below the surface of Admiralty Inlet at the entrance to Puget Sound, said company spokeswoman Virginia Brown.

A high-tech diving barge -- which two divers have used as a base, eating and sleeping for nine days under pressure -- was moved from over the submerged wreck to dockside Sunday afternoon and the divers slowly decompressed, she said.

"There has been such an exciting sense of anticipation, I feel kind of let down," Brown said of the end of the underwater treasure hunt, which has cost $500,000. "I'm rather disappointed, but, being a fisherman, I know what these people are going through -- and it's dangerous!"

Bob Mester and Mike Lockwood, the two principals in the 33-investor venture company, were not immediately available to comment on whether they would try again to recover the purser's safe as well as a casino safe believed to be aboard the ship. Mester has spent nine years researching and arranging financing for the project.

"Bob Mester says 'yes,' they will do it again," Brown said. "They said they wanted to do some more computing and find out when the tides will slow down again for about a 10-day period, probably about September 1.

"The tides were up to 3 1/2 knots yesterday. {The divers} were only down for about 1 1/2 hours and they spent most of their time trying to keep untangled in the current."

The normally strong tidal currents between Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca made salvage operations difficult from the beginning. The operation was timed to take advantage of relatively long period of slack tides in the area.

The purser's safe, which Mester and Lockwood think fell through two rotting decks to a third deck deep in the wreck, is believed to contain $1.5 million worth of jewels, gold coins, bonds and currency. The total value of the artifacts on the ship has been estimated at $8.5 million.

The Governor, a fast 5,400-ton passenger liner, sank shortly after midnight April 1, 1921, minutes after being rammed by a freighter outbound from Port Townsend. Six people -- a woman and her two daughters and three crew members -- died in the sinking. The rest of the 297 passengers escaped.

Divers briefly thought they had found the safe on Friday, when they uncovered a large object in the muck on the ship's "saloon" deck. But it turned out to be an old spring-driven washing machine that started running after divers unclogged its works with a pressure hose.

Divers have brought up hundreds of articles including diamond and cameo rings, brooches, pocket watches, women's shoes, chamber pots, dishes, flatware, carafes, perfume and toiletry bottles and a toilet bowl.

Most of the artifacts will go on display in a marine science center in Port Townsend before they are taken over by Maritime Ventures.

The high-tech dive, in which divers breathed a mixture of oxygen and helium to combat the hallucinatory effects of deep-water pressure, was performed by Can-Dive Services Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C., at a cost of $25,000 a day