Human Remains


Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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"Which under the definition of Ballard logic would make it more off-limits."

You have that backwards. Because the Monitor is an archaeological site, it's no surprise Ballard would not have a problem with it. I will also reiterate this is primarily a US Navy operation, and I would trust them to do with the wreck as they see fit.

"What I come back to is the simple fact that any handwringing about "disturbing a gravesite" that ever was applied to the Titanic by critics of any salvage operation, that never even amounted to the recovery or disturbing of human remains, goes out the window if those same people do not condemn any other salvage expedition where human remains are entombed."

Same as above, it's an archaeological site, and is under military jurisdiction.

"As for what I regard Ballard's true motives to have been, I believe they stemmed from a jealousy over the fact that he would not be able to personally control the fate of the Titanic wrecksite, and thus making him decide to use his status as Titanic's discoverer to demonize everyone else who took part in salvage."

I haven't seen any of his behavior fitting your description. He has moved on from Titanic, as well as other wrecks that he has discovered. Why not apply your logic to the Bismarck?


Adam
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
I also think part of the reason no objections have been raised - so far - is because no one can claim immediate ancestry to the skeletons found along with the Monitor, whereas, in the case of the RMS Titanic, contemporary people - survivors, in fact - can protest "My parent/sibling is down there. Leave them in peace."
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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"You have that backwards. Because the Monitor is an archaeological site, it's no surprise Ballard would not have a problem with it."

I have never bought into this argument that somehow it is possible to classify one historic ship and "archeological site" but another like Titanic can not be so classified. Why is the Titanic not in the same category? Recovery of artifacts have helped us learn more about what kind of ship this was like and the people who were aboard that ship, and that tells the same answers that the Monitor does. And yet, why is there any uproar over Titanic but not the Monitor? In my case, I view all historic shipwrecks equally. I don't attach this extra degree of sacredness to Titanic that Ballard does.

"Same as above, it's an archaeological site, and is under military jurisdiction."

The matter of jurisdiction is not the issue. RMS Titanic had legal jurisdiction over the artifacts but God knows that never stopped Ballard and the extremists from doing all they could to bad mouth the expedition. If they want to be consistent then they must apply the standards they applied to Titanic to all other shipwrecks of historic significance, and the matter of who owns it is the most irrelveant matter of them all.

"I haven't seen any of his behavior fitting your description."

In the softcover edition of "Discovery Of The Titanic" and all subsequent editions, Ballard included a section blasting the salvors of Titanic as insensitve graverobbers, and to do this, he uttered what can only be called a blatant falsehood of the first order when he accused them of destroying the crows nest in order to get at the telephone it contained. The only problem with this is that no telephone was ever recovered from the crows nest, and indeed the pictures from Ballard's own expedition reveal no phone inside the crows nest at all. Whatever happened to the crows nest ultimately had nothing to do with a salvage attempt, yet here was Ballard declaring this falsehood and never correcting it. Then there is the matter of Ballard refusing to be candid about his own 1985 testimony to Congress after he found the wreck in which he conceded that he was in favor of salvage in a proper context, and which are words he has refused to address in any of his books or TV appearances when he repeatedly denounces salvage and talks of the need to "leave it alone." I have said before that this is akin to a politician talking about how he is against raising taxes and calls his opponent evil if he votes to raise taxes, yet the politician never tells the voters that he once advocated the same thing (and then on top of that, goes out and does the same thing as Ballard did with the Isis, in which lo and behold we suddenly learned that there's at least a 3000 year statute of limitations on when a "gravesite" no longer is sacred according to Ballard)

I to this day can remember having to endure repeated statements from Ballard between 1987 and the mid-90s going out of his way to badmouth all aspects of Titanic salvage. He did anything but "move on" from it as far as his public comments are concerned, not to mention what he wrote in print.

Also, the argument that "contemporary people --survivors--in fact" can protest is not a valid argument since there was never any uniformity of opinion from Titanic survivors on the matter of salvage. Some were indeed opposed like Eva Hart, but others were in favor of salvage and I saw plenty of instances when anti-salvor extremists would go out of their way to even demonize those actual Titanic survivors for taking a pro-salvor position (which included accusations of brainwashing if you can believe it).
 
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Dave Gittins

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Captain Wood got it right when he said, "Not only is it sailors taking care of their heritage it is sailors taking care of the remembrance of their fellow shipmates."

Most military bodies have a long tradition of gathering the remains of their dead from the wrecks of ships and aircraft, or from battlefields far and wide. Some are found by chance and some as the result of deliberate searching, as in Viet Nam. Very frequently remains are found and given a military funeral. The remains taken from Hunley and Monitor fall within this honourable tradition.
 

Adam Leet

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"Why is the Titanic not in the same category? Recovery of artifacts have helped us learn more about what kind of ship this was like and the people who were aboard that ship, and that tells the same answers that the Monitor does."

Titanic had a sister ship that survived until 1935. Her fittings were removed and are available without resorting to a submersible and recovering objects from Titanic.

"The matter of jurisdiction is not the issue. RMS Titanic had legal jurisdiction over the artifacts but God knows that never stopped Ballard and the extremists from doing all they could to bad mouth the expedition."

I would disagree in part. As Captain Wood stated, Monitor is under the Navy, which I would assume has the best interests for the wreck in mind, seeing as it is part of its history. RMS Titanic, Inc., because it has no direct connection to the Titanic wreck the same way the Navy has one with the Monitor, likely may not have that wreck's best interests in mind.

"Then there is the matter of Ballard refusing to be candid about his own 1985 testimony to Congress after he found the wreck in which he conceded that he was in favor of salvage in a proper context, and which are words he has refused to address in any of his books or TV appearances when he repeatedly denounces salvage and talks of the need to "leave it alone.""

This was also two years before the first official salvage operation. Dr. Ballard had changed his opinion in the interim.

"(and then on top of that, goes out and does the same thing as Ballard did with the Isis, in which lo and behold we suddenly learned that there's at least a 3000 year statute of limitations on when a "gravesite" no longer is sacred according to Ballard)"

No, the Isis is different. Ballard had no problems salvaging from that wreck since it belonged to a now-extinct culture. It isn't simply a matter of "the wreck's 3,000 years old, let's salvage it." It depends on whether the civilization in which it was created exists today or not. There is also the matter of whether the wreck is in a particular nation's waters, whether or not it is a warship, etc. Again, with the Monitor, the group responsible for the salvage operation is the group that has a direct connection with the ship: the US Navy. And as I stated in a previous post, I can imagine the same treatment being accorded to the Arizona in a few decades. The Titanic has no such direct claimant.

Perhaps in a few hundred years, it would be more appropriate to salvage from the Titanic. At the moment, however, it is not necessarily a mysterious ship requiring the recovery of artifacts to tell us what happened, and RMS Titanic has certainly not treated the wreck with the care it claims.


Adam
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Anyone wanting to know the U.S. Navy policy in regards shipwrecks and wrecked aircraft, click on http://usmilitary.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.history.navy.mil%2Ffaqs%2Ffaq28-1.htm

It starts out by saying "Department of the Navy ship and aircraft wrecks are government property in the custody of the U.S. Navy. These seemingly abandoned properties remain government-owned until the Navy takes specific formal action to dispose of them.

Navy custody of its wrecks is based on the property clause of the U.S. Constitution and international maritime law and it is consistent with Articles 95 and 96 of the Law of the Sea Convention. These laws establish that right, title, or ownership of federal property is not lost to the government due to the passage of time. Only by congressional action can ship and aircraft wrecks be declared abandoned.

Through the sovereign immunity provisions of Admiralty law, the Department of the Navy retains custody of all of its naval vessels and aircraft, whether lost within U.S., foreign, or international boundaries. Past court cases supporting this doctrine include litigation in Hatteras Inc., v. the USS Hatteras (1984) and U.S. v. Richard Steinmetz (1992, also known as the "Alabama bell case"). The treatment of historic naval aircraft throughout the world's oceans has also conformed to these laws."

There's more to be had on that page and in the links above. Anyone who wants to know the actual legalities should give it a looksee.
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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"Titanic had a sister ship that survived until 1935. Her fittings were removed and are available without resorting to a submersible and recovering objects from Titanic."

The Olympic is not the Titanic. The artifacts from Titanic are more significant because they come from the actual ship associated with a significant event in history. Titanic's artifacts meet the criteria of meriting preservation because it is associated with an event of historic significance. To say that we should let them rot because there are some mostly inaccessible locations with Olympic furnishings is not sound thinking by my definition.

"RMS Titanic, Inc., because it has no direct connection to the Titanic wreck the same way the Navy has one with the Monitor, likely may not have that wreck's best interests in mind."

By whose definition? Ballard's? His definition as it turned out was to let everything rot and allow only an elitist few who could afford to dive the privilege of seeing it, while the rest of us should be content to see murky video and photographs, which he incredibly said is a better way to experience them. Not by my definition. The opportunity to see artifacts preserved with my own eyes is a far more moving experience than seeing murky photographs.

"This was also two years before the first official salvage operation. Dr. Ballard had changed his opinion in the interim."

This is not true. Ballard in fact went out of his way to denounce salvage activities in 1985 and 1986 on the sacredness of the site grounds in all of his television interviews (which I still have on tape), and then lo and behold he suddenly deviated from this position in unpublicized testimony before Congress, and then afterwards went back to his earlier posturings without mentioning this incredible deviation in the interim. If Ballard had been forthright about this testimony and explained these deviations, that would be one thing, but Ballard has consistenly tried to conceal this part of the record in the decade since and that IMO does not speak highly of him.

"No, the Isis is different. Ballard had no problems salvaging from that wreck since it belonged to a now-extinct culture."

That makes no difference if one is going to use the "gravesite" argument and the "sacredness" of the site, because it goes back to what I said about how ultimately we should regard all human lives lost at any time as equal to each other, and not that some are less equal than others merely because of the age of their remains. To say that the Titanic site is not as important for preservation of artifacts purposes because it's not as old as the Isis is a matter of what my graduate instructor called "chronological snobbery" in which an artifact's age supposedly determines it's value to history. Well from my standpoint, I could care less about the Isis, but I am interested in the Titanic and what preserved artifacts have to tell us from that ship, and I do not see why Titanic should be regarded any differently.

"I can imagine the same treatment being accorded to the Arizona in a few decades."

That would be true desecration of a gravesite, and anyone who suddenly favors removing bodies from the Arizona but denounces recovering artifacts from Titanic where there is no mass grave and no disturbing of human remains is once again falling into some very inconsistent lines of thinking by my definition.

"Perhaps in a few hundred years, it would be more appropriate to salvage from the Titanic."

By which point many artifacts would have deteriorated too much or been lost, which is irresponsible thinking to me. When we have the ability to do it now, we should take the opportunity to do it and not deny today's generation the opportunity to see these things.

"At the moment, however, it is not necessarily a mysterious ship requiring the recovery of artifacts to tell us what happened, and RMS Titanic has certainly not treated the wreck with the care it claims."

How? Don't cite the crows nest issue because as I mentioned before that is a bogus argument, and I find it interesting that that matter of Ballard engaging in what can only be called a flat out deception doesn't merit any comment from you. Titanic has been damaged far more by the ravages of time then by anything any salvage expedition has ever done.

The idea that we shouldn't start preserving or studying something because it isn't part of a "mysterious civilization" would if carried to its logical conclusion, dictate the lack of preservation or study of anything from the 20th century. And that is one line of thinking I have no regard for whatsoever, especially considering how Titanic survivors were equally divided and we had just as many who applauded the recovery of artifacts on the grounds that people up-close could see a more tangible legacy of what they went through.
 

Adam McGuirk

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May 19, 2002
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I think I am going to have to take Eric Paddon's side on this one....

First of all, it was said that we could see the interiors from the Olympic, because they are identical. Well, I don't give a you know what about seeing anything from the Olympic, because the Olympic is just another ship that has had an uneventful carrer. Seeing stuff on video also does nothing for me. It doesn't give me any type of feeling at all.

I went to Nashville exihbit in 2001. That gave me an indescribible feeling to see those artifacts. I felt closer to the people of Titanic than I ever could, unless I visited the wreck. When I saw the bell, I said to my self, "that was the bell Fleet Rang." When I saw pocket watches, jewelry, etc, I said to myself, "those actually belonged to someone, someone who had a life which was altered one way another by the events of April 14/15 1912. People say others should have a feeling for history, well there is no better way to have a feel, than to actually see the things that were a part of history. There were people, like my parents who were incredibly moved by seeing the artifacts. They had never been moved by seeing the wreck on tv, but were incredibly moved by this. What better way to preserve Titanic's memory, than to actually bring people as close to her as they can be, unless they see the wreck itself?
Adam
 

Tracy Smith

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Nov 5, 2000
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Erik said:

Isn't that true, it seems we never have enough time to do what we want.

Tell me about it. If I didn't have this pesky problem of having to make a living, I'd already have that Lord bio written.
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
"Also, the argument that 'contemporary people --survivors--in fact' can protest is not a valid argument"

Actually, I wasn't arguing the point - merely commenting on the fact that the argument was raised upon the discovery of the Titanic, but - so far - has not surfaced in the case of the Monitor.

I suppose, at best, someone could purport to be the great-grandchild of a crew member done in by the Monitor and protest.

But that hasn't happened.

As for the actual subject of human remains, I have since learned of the human corpse phenomenon
known as "soap mummies".

There is a website - but I couldn't tell you what it is because the subject grossed me out when I stumbled upon the info.

But for those who are truly interested in forensic science (yuck!), type in "soap mummies" using your favorite search engine. The correct term for the phenomenon - "adiopocere"? - will come up. From what little I gathered, human remains (including soft tissue) survive underwater more often than one might suspect.

Oh - one more thing - is it true Bob Ballard is next going in search of "De Flying Dutchman"?

In the event that he finds it, who owns it?
 
Jun 10, 1999
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HAIL TO THE ELITE NAVY DIVE TEAM!!!!

This is a project which has been surmounting for
many years (SEE TIME magazine archives)

BTW, this is the very same team which recovered the remains (Human and Aircraft) of flight TWA 800.

I suppose the Moniter's remains will likely accompany the C.S.S. Alabama's remains at the U.S. Naval War Museum.

YEA, YEA, and we know everything about the MONITER...but obviously some who uphold the traditions of their beginning's feel it is worth saving...


....much ado and the TITANIC too!!!!

Michael Cundiff
U.S.A.
 
Jun 10, 1999
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Bob:

I read on the Nat'l Geo. site that Dr. Ballard once expressed interest in finding Sir Ernest Shackleton's command...ENDURANCE

Oh BTW, the Nat'l Geo. article of my previous mention, the one regarding the TITANIC model in Wash., also noted that an ENDURANCE model is also present, crafted by the same folks.

I want to see the "finder of lost ships" locate the first of the four-stackers...the beautiful German greyhound D. Kaiser Wilhem Der Grosse ("The Great"). She was lost during the Great War.

Michael Cundiff
U.S.A.
 

Adam Leet

Member
May 18, 2001
346
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" His definition as it turned out was to let everything rot and allow only an elitist few who could afford to dive the privilege of seeing it, while the rest of us should be content to see murky video and photographs, which he incredibly said is a better way to experience them. Not by my definition. The opportunity to see artifacts preserved with my own eyes is a far more moving experience than seeing murky photographs."

Yes, and Ballard has also advocated the use of ROVs, considering they are safer than conventional manned submersibles.

"This is not true. Ballard in fact went out of his way to denounce salvage activities in 1985 and 1986 on the sacredness of the site grounds in all of his television interviews (which I still have on tape), and then lo and behold he suddenly deviated from this position in unpublicized testimony before Congress, and then afterwards went back to his earlier posturings without mentioning this incredible deviation in the interim."

Would you provide the source of this information? Also, he did not denounce any salvage operations to my knowledge in '85 and '86 because the first salvage expedition did not take place until 1987. I also remember he was still against salvage in the July 1986 expedition, considering he did not recover anything.

"
That makes no difference if one is going to use the "gravesite" argument and the "sacredness" of the site, because it goes back to what I said about how ultimately we should regard all human lives lost at any time as equal to each other, and not that some are less equal than others merely because of the age of their remains. To say that the Titanic site is not as important for preservation of artifacts purposes because it's not as old as the Isis is a matter of what my graduate instructor called "chronological snobbery" in which an artifact's age supposedly determines it's value to history. Well from my standpoint, I could care less about the Isis, but I am interested in the Titanic and what preserved artifacts have to tell us from that ship, and I do not see why Titanic should be regarded any differently."

There is still a significant difference between the Isis and Titanic. Titanic belonged to a period that is well known to historians. The Isis is not. As I stated before, I see no problem in salvaging from the Titanic if and when our historical knowledge of that time period has deteriorated. Again, however, many photos and objects exist from Olympic, despite your arguments that she is not as important.

"That would be true desecration of a gravesite, and anyone who suddenly favors removing bodies from the Arizona but denounces recovering artifacts from Titanic where there is no mass grave and no disturbing of human remains is once again falling into some very inconsistent lines of thinking by my definition."

Then why are you not opposed to salvage from the Monitor? What I am saying is that if the future of the Arizona is under threat, steps should be taken to preserve it, not before.

"By which point many artifacts would have deteriorated too much or been lost, which is irresponsible thinking to me. When we have the ability to do it now, we should take the opportunity to do it and not deny today's generation the opportunity to see these things."

To my knowledge, only the ship itself is deteriorating rapidly. Study of the wreck is easily done without resort to salvage, and those artifacts that have been recovered, sans the big piece, are not under threat of disappearing in as short a time frame.

"How? Don't cite the crows nest issue because as I mentioned before that is a bogus argument, and I find it interesting that that matter of Ballard engaging in what can only be called a flat out deception doesn't merit any comment from you. Titanic has been damaged far more by the ravages of time then by anything any salvage expedition has ever done."

For one, I can mention that RMS Titanic has not catalogued the artifacts properly, nor have they mapped out where they were found in the debris field to the same standards archaeologists adhere to.

"The idea that we shouldn't start preserving or studying something because it isn't part of a "mysterious civilization" would if carried to its logical conclusion, dictate the lack of preservation or study of anything from the 20th century."

Unless the objects in question were not grave sites. If a B-29 undergoing restoration, for example, did not crash with any fatalities, I do not see the problem.

As far as the concept of recovering artifacts and preserving them in a museum for all to see, as has been stated before, they are taken out of context. Would you rather view Civil War artifacts from the battle of Gettysburg in a museum, or would you rather see them in their original context, at Gettysburg?


Adam
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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I've been to Gettysburg. It's a great historic place. I will have to visit there again in the near future.

They did a great job of preserving the memories of the 50,000 + that died there.
 
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Tracey McIntire

Guest
Michael C.--It is my understanding that the turret of the Monitor is going to eventually be on display at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA. I saw an article about this in the local Virginian Pilot newspaper but the date escapes me. Also, regarding the ship model exhibit at the National Geographic Society--I would highly recommend it. Models on display include Endurance, USS Arizona, Edmund Fitzgerald, and USS Indianapolis. The Titanic model alone is worth seeing--it's 18 feet long! They do allow you to take photographs and I was able to get some excellent ones. The exhibit ends Sept. 6th.

Sincerely,
Tracey M.
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
Michael C. - Funny you should bring up the ENDURANCE.

I just finished watching the Kenneth Branagh mini-series on Shackleton.

I wonder: would the Endurance still be there stuck in the ice? Or would it have fallen in bits and pieces to the ocean floor?

I guess Ballard could find some of the metal objects (i.e., the stove, ship fittings, etc.).

No graveyard there, but you can bet the descendants of the donors who funded Shackleton would more than likely raise a stink: "That's belongs to my grandfather!"
 
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Bob Cruise

Guest
NEWSFLASH!!

Just heard that the US Navy may end up retrieving the remains of as many as THREE sailors who died when the Monitor sank.

A spokesman said something to the effect that the Navy's intention all along has been to bring back these military men who were lost 140 years ago.
 

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