Titanic Rescue Mission at Risk

Titanic Rescue Mission is at Risk and There May Not be Enough Time to Save Its Content From Decomposing.

Aug 31, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Titanic postal clerk's pocket watch
Titanic. The Bettmann Archive image


Titanic story is one of the most famous sea tragedies. Found in 1985, it is a constant fascination for people. Decades passed since its discovery, and divers still cannot talk about it. The ship is falling apart more and more and there is a fear that it will disappear completely. In the hope of preserving its contents, the people involved in the project use even high technology for scanning.


Controversies Around Rescuing Titanic Artifacts

the titanic at sea photography
Ocean liners: The TITANIC, 1911, via Library of Congress, Washington DC


However, many valuable things were still saved. There are: alligator bag, jewelry, cologne tubes, a bowling cap, music scores and a logometer. There were many controversies, for example whether it was at all necessary to recover the things that were on the ship. Why? The sea point where the shipwreck occurred is not only important for historic and archaeological reason, but it is also a resting place for people who lost their lives that day.


On April 15, 1912 one thousand and five hundred people lost their lives. The United States government is currently trying to a planned expedition to save the Marconi wireless transmitter. When the ship was in peril, this crucial device served as a utiliser to send an alert when the ship started sinking. It also helped in saving 700 people’s lives. If it gets removed, it will damage boat’s hull.


Titanic postal clerk's pocket watch
An Ingersoll pocket watch from the Titanic has sold at auction in the UK for $116,000.
Henry Aldridge & Sons


RMS Titanic, Inc should lead the process. This is a Georgia-bassed business which received an exclusive salvage privileges over the wreck, granted by a federal court in Virginia in 1994. The United States Congress previously forbade damaging or recovering the wreck, but there is no official binding arrangement.

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State Does Not Want Artifacts to be Recovered

titanic senate committee photography
Senate Investigating Committee questioning individuals at the Waldorf Astoria, 1912, via Library of Congress, Washington DC


The year of changes was 2018, when the US and the UK signed an agreement where both country official will be allowed to control access to the shipwreck. First proposition for transmitter salvage came publicly in 2020, and judge approved it at first. But, the U.S. Department of Commerce and its National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration did not agree with this decision.


From then until this year, the actions were on hiatus, due to the pandemic. However, the aforementioned company decided to go on an expedition without the permission of the state. The state took the initiative and, through a lawyer, asked the same court that granted the right to the company, to take it away now.


titanic lifeboats carpathia photography
TITANIC lifeboats on way to CARPATHIA, 1912, via Library of Congress, Washington DC


“It’s an attempt by the government to enforce treaty provisions and goes to the question of who has authority over the wreck site. The issues are tricky and the rulings are likely to be appealed”, maritime law specialist John D. Kimball.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.