Harris describes artifacts from latest expedition


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Bob,

Thank you for posting this & the other news re: RMST's work. I find the news of what they're finding fascinating but I can't help worrying that this is all wrong. If only these items could be put into safekeeping by a REPUTABLE museum - and taken out of the hands of persons employed by the salvage group, I'd feel much better about what they're doing. How do we know these things will be PRESERVED and not eventually sold? What will happen to all these things if the company dissolves one day? I mean, how can we trust a group that, no matter how high-tech & 21st century, is still really only a bunch of pirates?

Randy
 

Bob Mervine

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Randy:

I am only a writer -- hopefully a journalist who's job is to report the information about the story.

At the risk of losing my objectivity -- this forum is the place to opine about the issues. I have spoken to both sides and tried to objectively present their version of the truth.

It is up to you, the informed and interested public, to venture opinions about the issues.

It seemed to me that Mr. Harris was being castigated without a chance to respond. His opinion and Mr. Geller's have merit.

Bob Mervine
 
Jul 9, 2000
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In regards for the new feild of debris found 700 meters from the wreck, this actually re-inforces my opinion that what is needed for the exploration of the wreck are properly trained marine archaeologists and marine engineers to handle the forensics. This find could shed some light on a wealth of useful technical information in doing an analysis of the sinking itself...but let the salvage vultures pick it clean, and a lot of information will be lost forever.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dan Cherry

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I had a feeling they would go after the telemotor on the bridge. I noticed during the ABC GMA show, during their dive, the telemotor was 'tagged' and had three notes left at its base ('claim' checks?). Too bad - one of the last moving symbols of the ship.
I'm not so sure about what to make of their claim that the one piece of luggage may have belonged to Pitman. His cabin is in a fairly well-sealed area in the bow, forward of the split where the expansion joint widened, yet behind the peel of the officer's quarters' wall. I guess it could happen...
As for the chastising of Ismay, credit goes to Lowe for that skiff - not Pitman, as the article reads.
The buttons in the luggage, I take it, are White Star Line buttons. I guess any crew member on board with an over coat or jacket would have had buttons with the WSL burgee on them. However, RMST must know something we don't...
Ballard found baulastrades from the aft GSC during his 1985 expedition (pictures can be found in his Discovery of the Titanic book). Wooden components from the GSC were found floating and recovered in 1912. Harris hints that the GSC was wrongly thought to have broken loose and floated away, and that the (re)discovery of these wrought iron components is some revelation.
I raise my eyebrows at the 'legendary' claim they put forth that Smith was standing at the telemotor, pistol in hand (!) as the ship sank. I don't believe I ever heard this one beyond a few sensationalistic-type stories written in the days after the sinking. Legend? ....
I would be more in support of, as Michael says, more 'properly-trained marine archaeologists'. I have always felt, since 1987, that the 'salvagers' seem to be nothing more than modern-day pirates...
 

Inger Sheil

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Dan -

Indeed, the evidence as given in the article for the suitcase having belonged to Pitman is quite scanty: a pipe, long underwear, and a 'shirt collar and buttons consistent with the uniform of a third officer'.

I agree that they must have had more to base the i.d. on than this - after all, the fact that there was a pipe and 'Pitman smoked a pipe' is tenuous indeed. Lowe, too, smoked a pipe - indeed, informal photos of him with a pipe in hand seem to outnumber the photos of him without one. Presumably some of the other officers did as well.

It raises an interesting question, though: what would have happened if the expedition turned up Murdoch or Moody's dunnage? I've spoken to members of both families, and they are quite emphatically opposed to what they see as the intrusiveness of the salvage expedition.

Best wishes,

Inger
 
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Dean Manning

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hey all!

I have one question about the "new" debris field. Wouldn't somebody, Dr. Ballard, or others have run across this debris field while searching for the ship? I'd like to compare the searched areas vs. where the new debris field is located...

skeptical almost to a fault,

-Dean
 
Mar 20, 2000
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It's very telling what Inger Sheil's mentioned re: the Lowe and Moody families' opposition to salvage. I wondered what they might feel about all this. I realize there are some descendents who feel otherwise but I believe most relatives of Titanic victims/survivors must feel as they do.

In my own area of research I can at least say for sure that the Duff Gordons' relatives are also very much opposed. Lucy Duff Gordon's late grandson, Tony Halsbury, told me he deemed the salvaging of "artefacts" to be "an absolute outrage." Susan Glyn has also expressed to me her fear that if her Great Aunt's pearls are ever recovered they would probably never be returned to the family but would be "carted about in a road show" which she feels is "heartbreaking and a travesty."

I agree with Inger that as to Pitman's belongings, RMST, Inc must have more data than the slim proof they have given.

My question to those who are in support of RMST is will this group be trying to locate the relatives of Pitman or of the lady whose bag was found (Miss Meanwell was it?). If they insist on poking through personal effects, shouldn't RMST try and return them to their proper owner and or their next of kin? If this group is so above-board and caring, as they are always in great pains to assure us they are,why don't they do the honorable thing where these private belongings are concerned?

Randy
 
Mar 13, 2000
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mr mervine thank you for telling us about the article about the major findings of the expedition from this summer's expidition to the titanic i think its amazing that they found pieces of the grandstaircase and never said anything about it in their daily reports on the rms titanic,inc website and abouyt the wrenches that confirm that it was the titanic and about the new debris field i wished they had said that while they were there instead of telling us about it now a month after the fact jennifer mueller
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo, Randy -

Yes, I'm not too keen on the idea of salvage myself (that sniggering sound is those who appreciate understatement).

One minor correction - the Lowe family have not expressed the same reservations/objections that members of the Moody and Murdoch families have. I have the views of Harold WG Lowe on record, and while not really enthusiastic about the idea you can't exactly say he objected either. Other members of the Lowe family have different views again.

Best wishes,

Ing
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi Inger!

I'm sorry for the mistake. I said Lowe & meant Murdoch. Easy mistake to make though - I mean always in my mind "Inger + Titanic = Lowe."

All my best,

Randy
 
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Shane Kruger

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hi all
good o for the salvage
i think we should bring up as much as possible and as soon as possible
if i was going down on the ship i would have wanted my belongings recovered and whatever parts of the ship possible.

shane......
 

Inger Sheil

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Shane -

You're absolutely entitled to your opinion, of course.

Personally, if I were caught up in a disaster, I would not wish my effects pawed over and used to generate profits for a private enterprise under the guise of historical research. Nor would I wish an event causing grief to my family to be exploited in this way.

But to each his own.

Inger
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hello Mr. Shane Kruger, and haven't we covered this ground befor? Inger is correct in that you're certainly entitled to your opinion. What I'm a tad disturbed by is the fact that you keep repeating it without really explaining why you feel salvage is justified.

As to your belongings being recovered, even if they were salvaged, you would never get them back as they would become the property of whoever has the legal salvage rights to the vessel.

And as I have pointed out befor, you can't really speak for the remaining survivors and their reletives on this matter either. Especially when most of them who have spoken out on the matter make it pretty clear that at best, they're ambivalant of the whole thing, but more often they are passionately against salvage or even disturbing the wreck. I f you wish to argue for salvage, then discuss your proposed merits of the idea. You'll get a fair hearing. Ahhh...just make sure they're your own ideas.

Dean; in regards to the debris feild, it's entirely possible that it could have gone completely unnoticed all this time. Remember that there is no light down that deep. Absolutely none...other then what they bring with them on the submersibles, and even then, it doesn't go very far. Sonar is not without its problems too. Even the best sets can be snookered by anomolies, and even then, somebody has to know to look in a certian spot.

If memory serves, a marine archaeologist who posted here last month had as her cheif complaint the fact that a proper topographic survey had not been done of the site. As such, any charts of the area aren't going to be 100% reliable. A pity really.

I don't blame you for your skeptisism either. Like so meny other things, RMST is long on claims, but suspiciously short on proof.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Dave Shuttle

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Hi all,
The new debris field that was found in 98, containing primarily baggage, had never been seen before. It's not unusual. As one of the earlier posts stated, it's dark down there. Also, items are relatively small and usually not metallic so sonar readings would not immediately reveal materials in such an area. The topographical survey is only as complete as man knows how to extend it. If there is no known reason to search and catalogue an area, why expend the man hours and money to do so at such a depth? That being said, during the expedition in 98, Paul Matthias spent dozens of hours at the bottom doing a digital photomosaic of the entire known area just so mankind has an accurate idea of exactly what's what down there. There may still be other areas we've not located yet. If the separated hull parts turned just the right way at any point in the descent to the bottom, anything might have spilled out and landed anywhere. As of the end of the 98 expedition, RMSTI was doing all they knew to accurately depict the entire known area of the wrecksite. The new management isn't even smart enough to use the old data!!! After all, this is relatively new science to mankind. Ballard, Tommy Thompson and other recent explorers were some of the first to figure out spill patterns for debris...within the last 20 years. Mel Fisher moved aimlessly for years with no concept of a spill pattern. They just found more of the Atocha in the past 2 months. Be patient and more exciting revelations may yet occur.
 
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Dean Manning

Guest
hey everybody.

you guys are right. When I heard about the debris field, I thought that it was just another ploy for RMSTI to gain attention. Lord knows they can keep anything from the public that they want to; mostly because there are a select few on the planet who have means of actually visiting the wreck site and looking themselves.

still skeptical almost to a fault,
-Dean
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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Dave:
I'm really glad you joined this discussion. Many complain that the Titanic should be left as an unspoiled graveyard. I can understand those feelings coming from Titanic survivors and relatives of survivors. But much of your family history would be unknown if not for the recovery of the Irwin Diaries by RMSTI. Your unique personal experiences before and after their recovery will add a wealth of knowledge to this emotional issue.
 
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Dear Dave and Mike,

For me, there is no close relative to grieve over a loss or family history to tie me to this. But I guess that I see it like this...a 29 year old pregnant mother of three children was crossing the street in DC this past week with one of her children in hand and a flimpsy little metal grocery cart with her few groceries in the other. A large street sweeper was just sitting there at the corner and suddenly swollowed her and her cart and her child into the mechanism.

The police sifted through everything they could to identify the woman because she died, but the child and the cart were "Spit out" of the machine fairly unhurt. The child was 4 yearsold.

But the onlookers were crowding the scene and messing with things, so the police finally placed a huge sheet up to keep out the onlookers.

Her identity was needful and the police were handling that...but the onlookers were hurting not helping and I guess that that is what this is all about. Finding things, articles that belonged to people could help to further identify bodies and perhaps get a clearer picture of things. If my aunt or uncle were to have been on the Titanic or anyone else for that matter, I would want to know. But in the above case, there are those who feel violated when rescuers come to their home for fire rescue and personal things exposed...so what do you do?

I do not know what my opinion is on this except this....a responsible person going through my things when I am dead is one thing, but someone who is just going to rifle through my things....I guess would be a violation and I would not be there to defend myself against it. Couple with that irresponsible media people and you have a problem.

In Mike's note to Dave he states,"Your unique personal experiences before and after their recovery will add wealth of knowledge to this emotional issue." This my friend should be engraved and made into a memorial statement to any book or display made regarding Titanic! It becomes a wealth of knowledge a database that we learn from for years to come.
Maureen.
 

Bob Mervine

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To clarify several things.

Mr. Harris was definitely not speaking for RMST in this interview. He disagreed with some of the things done shortly before and after his firing. I think it is important to separate his statements from Mr. Geller's -- as RMST has not, as of now, released any specifics for the record about the trip other than what was posted on their "Day-To-Day" page of the website and in the documents delivered to Judge Clarke on Sept. 8. Mr Geller indicated that it would be forthcoming in a couple of weeks and that a TV show was in the works either for the end of this year or the April, 2002 anniversary.

That is precisely why this story was newsworthy -- no one else has revealed this yet, as well as other information I was not able to include in the story for space requirements.

I stand corrected on the incident with Mr. Ismay. Obviously there are many, varying accounts. I chose one in an attempt to portray Mr. Pitman in a way our readers might identify him. Most people do not have the depth of knowledge that this group has, including, unfortunately, myself. I also described Mr. Ismay as "architect" as I needed a one-word descriptor and I don't believe that "owner" is accurate either. I regret using the word "architect" as he clearly was not qualified in that regard.

I'm not sure Mr. Harris has any more information about the bag than what I stated. Essentially he is saying, "this might have belonged to him and I can't prove that it did not.

As far as Capt. Smith and his pistol, like the incident with Mr. Ismay, that was my writing and did not come from Mr. Harris. It clearly can be disputed. In my defense I believe that I kept the dramatics to a minimum in a story read mostly by non-Titanic enthusaists and I apologize for offending anyone with regard to the facts.

Finally I must say how rewarding for me it is to read all of your posts and to catch a glimpse of the tremedous amount of knowlege you all bring to this subject. Thank you.

Bob
 
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