Cutting into the hull

Mar 28, 2002
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Until I read this report I had no idea that RMS Titanic Inc had cut into the hull of Titanic to retrieve artefacts. I don't usually get involved in the salvage discussions but was just surprised that they had been allowed to penetrate and damage the wreck even further when I thought that it was generally agreed (?) that recovery of artefacts would only take place in the debris field.

This is the URL but for some reason it comes up error. http://www.dailypress.com/business/local/dp-38815sy0jan10,0,5568145.story?coll=dp-business-localheads

I have copied and pasted the relevant part of the report pertaining to the cutting of the hull.

TITANIC'S SALVAGER TAKING ON WATER?
Firm, some shareholders bickering over progress

by Peter Dujardin
Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Virginia)
January 10, 2004

NORFOLK -- Billions of underwater microbes eat at the steel RMS Titanic at the bottom of the north Atlantic Ocean - removing, by some estimates, up to 800 pounds of metal a day from the great ship. That's up from 200 pounds a day a few years ago.

But RMS Titanic Inc., the Atlanta-based company that's been legally designated the salvager for the 1912 wreck site, has made no efforts to get court approval to raise the actual vessel, beyond the mere artifacts it's allowed to bring to the surface now.

"The microorganisms eat the steel to get the iron out of it, and as the new hungry microbes are born, the rate of destruction keeps going up and up," said David Shuttle, a Pennsylvania resident, company shareholder and trustee of the Titanic International Society. "We need to tell the court that we're losing stuff that's significant for history."

The failure to press the courts on that issue is just one of a host of blunders that the current management team of RMS Titanic has made in recent years, Shuttle says.

A group of dissident shareholders now suing the company says the current management team knowingly defied a court order and cut into the ship's hull to remove artifacts, hurting the ship's - and the company's - integrity.

They say the managers have lined their pockets with exorbitant salaries and paid their friends for worthless studies. They also contend that when the current management took over the company during a hostile takeover in 1999, the managers misrepresented the number of shares that they controlled.

Those are the kinds of accusations now at the center of several legal struggles - including a $40 million lawsuit brought by shareholders against RMS Titanic Inc. and current management. The trial was supposed to get started in Norfolk federal court next week, until a federal judge postponed it. A hearing will be conducted Jan. 29.

"We have to rid ourselves of a management team that has done nothing in our best interests as a company ever since they illegally took over the company," said Shuttle, who is working with the plaintiffs in the case.

RMS Titanic officials, including chief executive officer Arnie Geller, referred calls to attorney Robert McFarland of McGuire Woods' Norfolk office.

"We have addressed all of those contentions, and we believe the evidence absolutely refutes those charges," McFarland said. "There was no cutting into the hull after the court order. There are no exorbitant salaries. They are being paid very close to what the former management was paid."

The hostile takeover, he added, was legal in every respect.

The shareholders say the current management team is mostly to blame for the company's stock woes. The stock closed Friday at 33 cents a share, down from more than $3 a few years ago. The company, which has eight employees, made only $800,000 in profit in fiscal 2003. That's up from a loss in 2001 but down from a $5 million profit in 1999.

The RMS Titanic Inc. salvage company first laid claim to the site in 1987, when it brought 1,500 artifacts to shore in Norfolk. In 1994, the Norfolk court declared RMS Titanic the official salvager for the wreck.

The company has since held several salvage operations, collecting about 6,000 artifacts, less than a tenth of the total number in the debris field. Three men at a time plunge to the Titanic wreckage in a French-owned submersible and lift the items to the surface using robotic equipment.

In 1999, Ohio resident Joe Marsh, the company's largest shareholder who invested more than $5 million into RMS Titanic, was unhappy with the way things were being done. He owns about 19 percent of the company, which together with other shareholders was enough to wrest control from the former managers.

But the team he helped install has done little to improve the company's fortunes, shareholders say.

The company makes its money by leasing its artifacts out to traveling shows, sponsored by media giant Clear Channel. That's the source of the $800,000 in profit in 2003. But other, bigger plans - including selling artifacts to various museums around the world, but not as one collection - were prohibited by the federal courts, which ruled that the company does not own the artifacts and can't sell them to whomever it wants.

The Norfolk court would likely approve a sale of the artifacts to an accredited museum as one unified set of artifacts. But a deal to sell it to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News was stymied a year ago when a judge observed in part that it didn't give enough return on investment to the shareholders.

Peter Dujardin can be reached at 247-4749 or by e-mail at pdujardin@dailypress.com
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Until I read this report I had no idea that RMS Titanic Inc had cut into the hull of Titanic to retrieve artefacts.<<

And you still don't. What the article actually said was
quote:

A group of dissident shareholders now suing the company says the current management team knowingly defied a court order and cut into the ship's hull to remove artifacts, hurting the ship's - and the company's - integrity.
In other words, what we have here is an allagation, not a finding of fact. Considering that the Cameron expedition to the wreck came after the last RMSTI expedition, and that they noticed no evidence of any such molestation of the hull, I hope you understand why I have a problem believing this.

Of course, none of this means that the allagations are false. Jim Cameron couldn't be everywhere and may have missed something, but I'd like to see more substantive evidence then the claims made by the stockholders.​
 
Mar 28, 2002
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What grounds do these "dissident shareholders" have for making this allegation? Do they actually have evidence or is it unsubstantiated lies?

Cheers,

Boz
 
T

Trevor William Sturdy

Guest
Hi,
A couple of quick questions.

Do we have cutting equipment that can operate at that depth & would RMSTI be stupid enough to cut into the wreck as i would imagine that as salvors in possession only there would have to be a clause in the salvor agreement that forbids any damage to the wreck. Surely if it was proven they did damage the wreck they would loose everything??
 

Jeremy Lee

Member
Jun 12, 2003
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>>NORFOLK -- Billions of underwater microbes eat at the steel RMS Titanic at the bottom of the north Atlantic Ocean - removing, by some estimates, up to 800 pounds of metal a day from the great ship. That's up from 200 pounds a day a few years ago.<<

Titanic's iron is being eaten up at 800lb. a day??? Since when did this happen? I mean its shocking to see a four-fold jump from 200lb., which is already very bad.
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
Member
Dec 3, 2000
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Niagara Falls, Ontario
Hi Jeremy,

"Titanic's iron is being eaten up at 800lb. a day??? Since when did this happen? I mean its shocking to see a four-fold jump from 200lb., which is already very bad"

That's a good question. Unless someone dives down and analyzes the rapid growth, we won't know for sure.

As the article states, as more and more of these microbes are born, the rate of steel being eaten from the great ship increases. My guess is that it's recent, but I could be wrong.

Futhermore, I also don't believe these allegations about cutting into the ship. Until I see more proof from the shareholders, I'm going to take it with a grain of salt.

Best regards,

Jason
happy.gif
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Titanic's iron is being eaten up at 800lb. a day???<<

Is it? I wouldn't be terribly shocked at the news if it turned out to be true, but I'd like to see some of the science to back it up befor I climb on board with this one.
 

Jeremy Lee

Member
Jun 12, 2003
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When was it calculated that Titanic's iron was being eaten up at 200lb. a day?

From there, we can see how fast the rate is, if its true.

BTW, anyone knows who came out with this 800lb. a day estimate?
 

Jeremy Lee

Member
Jun 12, 2003
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I still cannot understand how could it multiple by four times in less that 10 years!

From 0 - 200lbs it took like 70+ years
But from 200-800lbs. it took less than 10 years!
 
K

Kathy A. Miles

Guest
I read something that I believe Pelligrino or Ballard wrote about how ocean conditions have changed since Titanic's discovery. It was likely Pelligrino since Ballard hasn't himself been back. I remember him saying how the "snow" had increased many-fold. He was referring to those floating white flakes you often see in video at the wreck. The implications were that conditions around Titanic had changed drastically since it was discovered. Still, for an increase like that, it would take massive changes and usually ocean environment doesn't change that much that fast. I'll look through my books and see if I can find it again.

Cheers,
Kathy
 
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Kathy A. Miles

Guest
I found the book, it's Pelligrino's second book Ghosts of the Titanic and I'm referring to the chapter beginning on page 109. It has nothing to do with the plankton snow I referred to above though. Pelligrino is saying that the rate is increasing because the available surface area for the rusticles to munch is increasing from the pits they are boring into the plates. He mentions the 200lbs a day, but does not specifically mention an increase to 800lbs a day, just that the rate will accelerate sooner than later.

Cheers,
Kathy
 

Jeremy Lee

Member
Jun 12, 2003
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Then what?

1000lbs. a day by 2010?

The situation of the Titanic today has never been more precarious!

Oh yes, Pellegrino mentions that the rate of decay will snowball in future.....
 
K

Kathy A. Miles

Guest
Pelligrino described things as one day Titanic's hull plates would resemble a house of cards and that a submersible landing could cause it to collapse. I suppose once it does collapse, the people who like to salvage things will then consider anything fair game to salvage. But if the hull plates are as fragile as it sounds, I would think drilling into the hull would really be risky. I wish they'd just let things be!
Cheers,
Kathy
 

Tim Foecke

Member
Mar 9, 2006
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If you take the approx. surface area of the wreck, multiply by a typical marine corrosion rate of unprotected iron of 0.1 mils per day, you get between 500 and 1000 lbs of corrosion per day.

Nothing atypical here.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>But if the hull plates are as fragile as it sounds, I would think drilling into the hull would really be risky.<<

And I would agree with that too. Not that this will discourage those who really mean to have a go at it and hang the consequences. Still, if somebody is foolish enough to try, I won't waste a lot of sympathy on them if they get whacked.

Tim, thanks for that welcome bit of realty there in regards corrosion rates. Now if only the press would figure that out....
 

Jeremy Lee

Member
Jun 12, 2003
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Profits are what they are thinking of, and so if they don't know yet how dangerous it would be, they would learn it the hard way.
 
K

Kathy A. Miles

Guest
Maybe those salvagers will assume that if they're cutting into the hull and the ship begins to collapse, you know, that anything that dramatic they'd be able to see in plenty of time to maneuver away from it, sort of like that iceberg....

Cheers,
Kathy