RMS Titanic Inc's report on the disintegration of the wreck


Feb 7, 2005
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Hi, Bill--how are you? Very interesting language used by the court which, as you point out, leaves the door open for court-approved salvage within the bow section. Dangerous and expensive--but an option.

Parks Stephenson has proposed that it may be time to consider recovering artifacts from within the wreck. I tend to agree, especially when it comes to items that have special historical value such as the Marconi equipment, a one-of-a-kind artifact that played such an important role throughout Titanic's voyage. It's location makes it, perhaps, the "easiest" important artifact to recover from within the bow section.

The question is, would RMSTI petition the court for permission to recover this important artifact? Or, is collecting items from the debris field still their only focus?

Denise
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>The question is, would RMSTI petition the court for permission to recover this important artifact?<<

I wish they would. The upperworks of the ship won't last forever but the window of opportunity to recover and possibly restore the Marconi apperatus will soon be closed forever.
 

Damon Hill

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Jun 13, 2004
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Does anyone have any idea on the current state of the Gymnasium? The footage and photos taken of it during the Ghosts of the Abyss expedition showed it deteriorating and sagging ominously downward into the remains of the decks below near the break point. I wonder how it stands at the moment.
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Hello Denise! I am super, thanks! I hope everything is well way up there where you are!

For Damon, the gymnasium ceiling collapsed years ago. It is inaccessible. There is a hidden surprise for those of you who have Susan Wels' book, Titanic: The Legacy of the World's Greatest Ocean Liner. On page 149 of the hardback edition is a picture captioned "The Titanic's stern section,... is an almost unrecognizable mass of tangled, twisted steel." This is a major mistake, for if you look in the lower middle of the photo, you can CLEARLY see the stationary bicycle in the gymnasium (on the bow section). This is historically significant as well, because Madeline Astor sat on this bicycle while JJA cut open his lifebelt and showed her what was inside. Also, one of the photos of Lawrence Beasley is of him sitting on a stationary bike...

If you look at the picture, the center seat post, minus the seat, points at the camera, and the foot pedals appear at to the lower immediate left, and upper immediate right. Past the piece of wood laying diagonally (this is a framing piece of a door) you can see the front wheel in the shadow.

All the anti-savagers wouldn't agree, but what a significant and powerful piece this stationary bicycle would have been in an exhibit. It still could be recovered perhaps, with major efforts, but Parks is correct about the ambitions of the man who may be forever infamous as "the Titanic man who COULD have changed the historic exhibition world, but had a proctological view of life"
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>It still could be recovered perhaps, with major efforts,...<<

Perhaps but does anyone have any idea where that bike is now? If it's lost in the tangle of wreckage, I'd bet some pretty long odds against digging it out with the resources that exist.
 
Mar 18, 2000
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Hey, Bill:

Thanks for the specifics regarding the photo in Wel's book! Of course, I couldn't resist pulling the book out and checking it out!
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Hi Bill ! Long time no see !
What did you think of the picture?

Michael, that bike is in the same position it was when the phot was taken, I'll predict. The doorway framing would be a quick way to find it, near the doorway into the gym. But now, the roof is upon it, so some type of lift technology must be used to raise it and retrieve inside. I told George Tulloch.... "imagine what else is in there... the rowing machine.... the electric camel.... who knows what else can be found there."
 

Damon Hill

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Jun 13, 2004
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Hi Bill. Thankyou for your response regarding the Gym. I have the Wel's book and hadn't noticed the miscaption..or the bicycle remains..I will have to take a closer look. I have seen a close up pic of the handle from the electric horse in my copy of Ballards 'Discovery of the Titanic"...I guess that handle is now buried under the further deteriorated wall, since the photo was taken 20 years ago! The pics of the Gym in Ghosts of the Abyss are interesting too...the cylinders against the aft wall still being there and quite a bit of panelling too....I wonder if this wall has fallen away since that photo was taken in 2001 or if it is still precariously clinging to the collapsing boat-deck?
 

Damon Hill

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Jun 13, 2004
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I've just had another look at the picture in the Wel's book and now that you have explained what the image is really of, it is so obvious it is the bike! I had looked at the seat support rod several times over the years and wondered what that 'pipe' was for. Now I know. Thanks for that!
 
Feb 7, 2005
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Hey, Bill (Willard)!

Thanks for your insight into the photo of the stationary bicycle in the Wels' book. What a wonderful artifact--if only it, and other items in the gymnasium, could be recovered! If they were, countless people could look at them and "see," in their mind's eye, the very images you have described: Madeline and John Jacob Astor, Lawrence Beasley, and the many others who visited that space during Titanic's maiden voyage. I can also see Thomas W. McCawley--how proud he must have been to manage such a modern gymnasium on the world's largest liner! Yet he, like so many others, lost his life the night of April 14/15. These items, if recovered, would stand as a perpetual monument to each and every one of them.

Premier Exhibitions, Inc., may be preoccupied with collecting cadavers for exhibits like "Body Worlds," which have been extremely popular across the country recently (here in Cleveland the "Body Worlds" exhibit at the Great Lakes Science Center in 2005 drew tremendous crowds--second only to those of 2002 for "Titanic: The Exhibition"), but that does not address RMSTI's continuing obligation to collect artifacts from the wreck site in order to maintain their status as "salvors-in-posession." At some point--sooner rather than later--they'll be forced to return to Titanic. We don't need more au gratin dishes--there are more than enough of those to fill every exhibit across the globe. What we need is to recover important historical items like the stationary bicycle, and the Marconi equipment. Time is running out to recover these important artifacts.

Glad to hear you're doing well, Bill! Wish you could have made it to Chicago for the TIS convention--it was a great time! And, wish you could join us in Toledo at the end of this month for the techie conference (http://www.glts.org/events/toledo_2006/).

You got the brunt of "Ernesto" when he made landfall--but we got the tail end of it for Labor Day Weekend! :-(

Denise
 
Mar 3, 1998
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As of last year, the aft wall of the Gymnasium was still standing. The outboard walls of the Entrance area and Gymnasium are falling to the deck. All identifiable artefacts inside the Gymnasium are crushed and buried under the collapsed overhead. Given the current situation, I don't see any of the Gymnasium equipment being recovered.

At this point in time, no one can legally extract artefacts from inside the wreck, not even RMSTI. Even if the international protection treaty were to be changed today, RMSTI does not have the resources to mount a significant recovery expedition. A new partnership would have to be forged and those negotiations will take time with no guarantee of success.

Our best choice at this time is to explore and document as much as possible. The possibility of artefact recovery is being discussed at the US State Department level, but don't expect any progress to be made anytime soon.

Parks
 

Bill Willard

Member
Mar 24, 2001
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PART 1

In order to clarify recent discussion regarding the opportunities for salvaging inside Titanic's bow, I was asked to communicate what the Court had said in its decisions and hearings. This is the most significant passage that I have read. [Any errors are typos]

This is from the transcript of RMST's April 9 2001 Periodic Report to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Talking are:
Mark S. Davis, of the Carr & Porter law firm, representing RMST
The Honorable J. Calvitt Clarke, Jr.
The Honorable Rebecca Beach Smith

From the transcript, beginning page 19 line 25. [The "last year" in the first sentence refers to the year 2000, specifically the sentence refers to the court order barring recovery from the bow issued in July 2000 - author's note]

(Mr. Davis): Your honor, that takes us to one final question
that I think we have that was raised in the July order last
year, which is, the court will recall that in March of last
year Mr. Geller testified about the possibility of making
surgical incisions into the wreck during last summer's
expedition. And then there was some question about what
those surgical incisions might be, and Mr. Geller discussed
with the court the fact that the decks of the Titanic in
various places are starting to collapse on themselves, and
that there is a fear that the opportunity to recover
artifacts from the wreck may be lost in the very near future
as a result of that. So Mr. Geller discussed the possibility
of making surgical incisions into the hull of the wreck in
March when he testified here before the court.
 

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