Salvage her

Jan 5, 2001
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When anyone talks about raising the ship, Simon Mills' first thoughts seem to go from bemusement to getting used to hearing about these wild schemes. As the owner of the wreck, you should see his critique of the entire situation in the latest Commutator (THS). Britannic won't be raised, you can be assured of that.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Mike,

...wondering what's really in the crack pipe some of these people are taking hits on. I know I do from time to time.

You're not the only one, then!

Best,

Mark.
 
May 8, 2001
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LOL. You beat me to it, Mark and Michael.
One day I hope to see Simon Mills write on this message board, and share some thoughts and realizations..... But through the streams of tears, and he rolling on the floor in laughter, that does not seem to be happening any time soon.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Colleen!

I think you bring up a good point. It would be nice to see Simon online. Sadly I think the reasons why he is not are the same for both himself and a number of others. These well-known personalities and authors would suffer a deluge of requests for information and posts, not to mention protests -- in Simon's case, his (thankful) desire to see Britannic remain on the seabed. Still, I'm always told to that pseudo names are a possibility. I'm not suggesting that for Simon himself, but you never know who's reading these posts.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
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Easley South Carolina
>>but you never know who's reading these posts.<<

A very good point there. While non-members can't post to the threads, there's really nothing to stop anyone from reading most of them. If somebody is posting under an assumed name, I suspect the only one who would know for sure would be Phil Hind, and since he's not saying, I'm not going to ask. It's not something I need to know.

It's enough for everyone to know that this forum is not some great unknown. The Titanic Community at large knows we're here and some do keep tabs on what's being said and by who.

If Simon Mills is keeping track, he probably get's something of a chuckle from some of the "Bring it up" schemes that get mooted. The man is no fool and he has to know as well as anybody how unrealistic any such scheme would be.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

Another set of good points, Michael. I expect the number of 'readers' as opposed to 'users' is a ratio of 5:1 or something!

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

I have been given permission -- or more accurately, been requested -- to post the following on the forum, by Simon Mills:

To everyone with an interest in the raising the Britannic:

I was recently taking one of my periodic glimpses from the sidelines at the ET Britannic forum, and I notice that Colleen Collier has indicated that she would like to see me getting more involved with the discussion forums. While I am flattered and freely admit that on some occasions I am sorely tempted, sadly it isn’t really practicable for exactly the reasons in Mark Chirnside’s reply — as an author and owner of the wreck I would be completely swamped in correspondence, so while I am grateful and delighted to see interest in the Britannic growing to such an extent, I also know that if I were to get too deeply involved in these discussions then it would never end. It was partly for this reason that I agreed some time back to do a couple of interviews for Michail Michailakis’ Britannic website, in the hope that it would pre-empt a lot of these questions. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work, but never mind!

Having said that, I did break this self-imposed rule back in January when a rather disagreeable exchange took place in another Britannic website forum. Fortunately that particular thread was eventually deleted before things got totally out of hand, but it occurs to me that my response is probably just as relevant now as it was then, so I thought that I would ask Mark to post a slightly expanded (and corrected!) version in this forum, in the hope that it will install a little reality to what seems in places to be becoming an increasingly bizarre thread. If you want to read a more detailed description of the trials and tribulations of owning the Britannic there is a more in-depth article in the latest edition of the Titanic Commutator (# 161), but in the meantime here is a necessarily brief outline.

It may surprise many of you to hear this, but being the owner of an Olympic-class liner is no picnic. Over the years I have seen numerous letters, e-mails or whatever on the subject, and while I will freely admit that I have always considered the possibility of raising the wreck to be amusing to a certain extent, I have always tried to take these suggestions with the proverbial “pinch of salt.” Mind you, I am also curious as to wonder how anyone can come to the conclusion that Britannic’s hull is sound enough to be raised, based on the few selected photos or excerpts from the several documentaries that have been made on the subject. With the evidence to hand, even my colleagues on the Marine Forensics Panel in Washington DC would be hard put to suggest that it was possible to raise the Britannic undamaged.

Unlike most people who have an opinion on this subject, I do not really have the luxury of being able to talk openly about any thoughts, dreams, ambitions or desires that I may have, for fear of being misunderstood or even misquoted. However, while I still believe that it would be unwise for me to become a regular contributor to this forum, or any other come to that, I see no harm in reiterating a few facts of life which will hopefully ensure that any future discussions on the subject of raising the Britannic remain within the bounds of reality, rather than fantasy. To be frank, there are a good number of factors that should be considered in more detail, because it seems clear that many people out there have little or no notion of what can really go on behind the scenes. This observation is not intended as a criticism — there’s no particular reason why you should — but there are certainly enough misconceptions out there that require comment, both on the legal, moral and financial sides.

Let’s start with the legalities. Believe it or not, even in international waters wrecks have owners, be it an individual, a shipping company or even the insurance company that paid out after the loss. Any artefacts from these sites may well be open to retrieval without consultation, but when those artefacts are landed in any civilised country then they must be declared to the relevant authorities of that nation. In England it comes under the jurisdiction of the Receiver of Wreck (UK), and British law quite clearly states that any retrieved items must first be offered to the registered owner, who then has the right to determine their ultimate fate. Quite often the salvor may be allowed to keep them, but not always, and in the past appropriate museums have been known to benefit from any subsequent “division of the spoils.” I am reasonably confident that there is also a similar law in the United States although I am not sure which Government department would be responsible.

In territorial waters the matter can be even more complicated, and even my own wishes as the humble owner do not give me the right to arbitrarily start retrieving any artefacts without first consulting with the Greek Department of Marine Antiquities, who monitor any such activities in their province very closely. More to the point, anyone who even tries it could not only end up with an extremely large fine, but in more extreme cases even a prison sentence of up to fifteen years! Perhaps that should give you some idea of just how seriously they take it?

There are also the moral considerations, and the British “Protection of Military Remains Act” (1986) should be enough to indicate that sites considered to be war graves are still of considerable sensitivity to certain organisations. To some this excuse may seem like something of a sham, in which case I would wager that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion (the equivalent of the American War Veterans) would be happy to take issue with you.

Inevitably, however, we come to the financial aspects, because no matter how technologically possible any attempt to raise the Britannic may or may not be, any such venture could only succeed if the figures add up. The simple truth, however, is that they don’t. The staggering costs of undertaking such a huge salvage operation alone must render it problematic, and this is before taking into account the staggering conservation expenses for preserving the entire wreck intact. And before anyone suggests that we should raise a few artefacts and sell them off to cover the costs, you should be aware that such practices are generally frowned upon in archaeological circles, which prefer to see the required funding put in place before any such activities are commenced. This ensures that any such projects do not collapse before completion, which could result in retrieved objects being lost due to the lack of funding to conserve them, or scattered in collections around the world. I actually shudder to think how much the final bill to salvage the Britannic intact would come to, but I do know that it is certainly a great deal more than the value of what’s actually down there.

Hopefully from this reasonably concise summary alone you will understand exactly why Britannic will very likely remain where she is. The hull itself could never be raised intact, although the possibility of raising a number of selected items for public display could just happen one day if the circumstances are right. Nevertheless, it could only be after extensive consultation with a number of official organisations and after a great many safeguards have been put in place. For those out there who cannot accept this then I can only offer my commiserations, but by hopefully pointing out the various options that now exist in these more enlightened times, it may confirm that there really is far more to marine conservation than simply yanking a few bits and pieces off of the seabed and sticking them in a museum! It’s an important point and I am pleased to say that an increasing number of people out there are beginning to get the message. Oh, and one last thing — I actually saw Britannic for real in September 1995 and I decided there and then that she looks absolutely perfect right where she is. Now why would I want to change that?

Thank you again to all of you for your interest, and please excuse me if I don’t post any further responses on this subject. It really isn’t anything personal, but I just wouldn’t have the time to answer every potential reply…

Simon Mills.
Windsor, England.
Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
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Easley South Carolina
Well, I can't say as Simon's letter was anything less then what I expected. As I said, the man is no fool and knows the realities...and in detail. He just summed up in a few paragraphs what some of the resident techies here have been trying to get across piecemeal for years.

Thanks to Simon Mills for your insights and the badly needed dose of reality on this matter and to Mark Chirnside for passing it on.
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
Member
Dec 3, 2000
8,242
5
198
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Hello Kevin,

It appears you have forgotten that you previously asked this question, two years ago in this thread:

[Note: The thread Jason refers to is the one you are reading now; the old and the new have been merged, and are now here. MAB]

To repeat what has been said in that thread; No, there are no plans to raise her. First of all, if anyone was planning to do it, the cost would be huge to undertake such a project knowing full well that the return investment on it, is going to be almost zilch. Second, why bother? Third, she's a war grave, so the chances of obtaining the permissions for it are none. Fourth, it would be pointless to raise her, tow her to a shipyard and then have to scrap her, because she's such a wreck to begin with, due to lying on the ocean floor for eighty nine years. Fifth, once she is raised, what is she going to be used for?

Sure, she's not nearly anywhere close to the depth of her older sister, but the point is, it ain't gonna ever happen. The closest thing I can see happening for the wreck, is a possible underwater museum, but I haven't heard anything of it in quite sometime.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
380
283
Easley South Carolina
I think it's worthwhile to repost what Simon Mills had to say about this and which Mark Chirnside posted in that earlier thread with that gentleman's kind permission. As far as I'm concerned, it says it all:
To everyone with an interest in the raising the Britannic:

I was recently taking one of my periodic glimpses from the sidelines at the ET Britannic forum, and I notice that Colleen Collier has indicated that she would like to see me getting more involved with the discussion forums. While I am flattered and freely admit that on some occasions I am sorely tempted, sadly it isn’t really practicable for exactly the reasons in Mark Chirnside’s reply — as an author and owner of the wreck I would be completely swamped in correspondence, so while I am grateful and delighted to see interest in the Britannic growing to such an extent, I also know that if I were to get too deeply involved in these discussions then it would never end. It was partly for this reason that I agreed some time back to do a couple of interviews for Michail Michailakis’ Britannic website, in the hope that it would pre-empt a lot of these questions. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work, but never mind!

Having said that, I did break this self-imposed rule back in January when a rather disagreeable exchange took place in another Britannic website forum. Fortunately that particular thread was eventually deleted before things got totally out of hand, but it occurs to me that my response is probably just as relevant now as it was then, so I thought that I would ask Mark to post a slightly expanded (and corrected!) version in this forum, in the hope that it will install a little reality to what seems in places to be becoming an increasingly bizarre thread. If you want to read a more detailed description of the trials and tribulations of owning the Britannic there is a more in-depth article in the latest edition of the Titanic Commutator (# 161), but in the meantime here is a necessarily brief outline.

It may surprise many of you to hear this, but being the owner of an Olympic-class liner is no picnic. Over the years I have seen numerous letters, e-mails or whatever on the subject, and while I will freely admit that I have always considered the possibility of raising the wreck to be amusing to a certain extent, I have always tried to take these suggestions with the proverbial “pinch of salt.” Mind you, I am also curious as to wonder how anyone can come to the conclusion that Britannic’s hull is sound enough to be raised, based on the few selected photos or excerpts from the several documentaries that have been made on the subject. With the evidence to hand, even my colleagues on the Marine Forensics Panel in Washington DC would be hard put to suggest that it was possible to raise the Britannic undamaged.

Unlike most people who have an opinion on this subject, I do not really have the luxury of being able to talk openly about any thoughts, dreams, ambitions or desires that I may have, for fear of being misunderstood or even misquoted. However, while I still believe that it would be unwise for me to become a regular contributor to this forum, or any other come to that, I see no harm in reiterating a few facts of life which will hopefully ensure that any future discussions on the subject of raising the Britannic remain within the bounds of reality, rather than fantasy. To be frank, there are a good number of factors that should be considered in more detail, because it seems clear that many people out there have little or no notion of what can really go on behind the scenes. This observation is not intended as a criticism — there’s no particular reason why you should — but there are certainly enough misconceptions out there that require comment, both on the legal, moral and financial sides.

Let’s start with the legalities. Believe it or not, even in international waters wrecks have owners, be it an individual, a shipping company or even the insurance company that paid out after the loss. Any artefacts from these sites may well be open to retrieval without consultation, but when those artefacts are landed in any civilised country then they must be declared to the relevant authorities of that nation. In England it comes under the jurisdiction of the Receiver of Wreck (UK), and British law quite clearly states that any retrieved items must first be offered to the registered owner, who then has the right to determine their ultimate fate. Quite often the salvor may be allowed to keep them, but not always, and in the past appropriate museums have been known to benefit from any subsequent “division of the spoils.” I am reasonably confident that there is also a similar law in the United States although I am not sure which Government department would be responsible.

In territorial waters the matter can be even more complicated, and even my own wishes as the humble owner do not give me the right to arbitrarily start retrieving any artefacts without first consulting with the Greek Department of Marine Antiquities, who monitor any such activities in their province very closely. More to the point, anyone who even tries it could not only end up with an extremely large fine, but in more extreme cases even a prison sentence of up to fifteen years! Perhaps that should give you some idea of just how seriously they take it?

There are also the moral considerations, and the British “Protection of Military Remains Act” (1986) should be enough to indicate that sites considered to be war graves are still of considerable sensitivity to certain organisations. To some this excuse may seem like something of a sham, in which case I would wager that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion (the equivalent of the American War Veterans) would be happy to take issue with you.

Inevitably, however, we come to the financial aspects, because no matter how technologically possible any attempt to raise the Britannic may or may not be, any such venture could only succeed if the figures add up. The simple truth, however, is that they don’t. The staggering costs of undertaking such a huge salvage operation alone must render it problematic, and this is before taking into account the staggering conservation expenses for preserving the entire wreck intact. And before anyone suggests that we should raise a few artefacts and sell them off to cover the costs, you should be aware that such practices are generally frowned upon in archaeological circles, which prefer to see the required funding put in place before any such activities are commenced. This ensures that any such projects do not collapse before completion, which could result in retrieved objects being lost due to the lack of funding to conserve them, or scattered in collections around the world. I actually shudder to think how much the final bill to salvage the Britannic intact would come to, but I do know that it is certainly a great deal more than the value of what’s actually down there.

Hopefully from this reasonably concise summary alone you will understand exactly why Britannic will very likely remain where she is. The hull itself could never be raised intact, although the possibility of raising a number of selected items for public display could just happen one day if the circumstances are right. Nevertheless, it could only be after extensive consultation with a number of official organisations and after a great many safeguards have been put in place. For those out there who cannot accept this then I can only offer my commiserations, but by hopefully pointing out the various options that now exist in these more enlightened times, it may confirm that there really is far more to marine conservation than simply yanking a few bits and pieces off of the seabed and sticking them in a museum! It’s an important point and I am pleased to say that an increasing number of people out there are beginning to get the message. Oh, and one last thing — I actually saw Britannic for real in September 1995 and I decided there and then that she looks absolutely perfect right where she is. Now why would I want to change that?

Thank you again to all of you for your interest, and please excuse me if I don’t post any further responses on this subject. It really isn’t anything personal, but I just wouldn’t have the time to answer every potential reply…

Simon Mills.
Windsor, England.
As Jason said, it's just not going to happen. All else aside, nation-states take the protection of their war graves very seriously, and the Greeks don't take very kindly to trespassers attempting to dive on the wreck. The underwater museum part might be a good idea, and certainly a lot more realistic then trying to attempt the same with the Titanic but that's about as far as it goes.
 

Matthew Lips

Member
Mar 8, 2001
304
0
146
I think the reasons why Britannic will remain exactly where she is until she inevitably rots to nothing have been well expounded. If you don't believe anybody else, please at least take her owner's word for it!

The irony is that the best place for any sunken ship to be is...on the sea bed. Any attempt to raise the Britannic, should one hypothetically ever be attempted, would result in carnage to the grossly weakened vessel. As I have said before in another "Raise the Britannic" thread, the realization must sink in (pun possibly intended!) that the Britannic, Titanic, Andrea Doria etc as they once were, no longer exist.

At least, their remains do. There is more left (albeit out of sight) of the Britannic and the Titanic than there is of the Olympic. The same can be said of Andrea Doria/Cristoforo Colombo or Lusitania/Mauretania - despite the havoc which has been wreaked on the Lucy's remains.

If Britannic and/or Titanic had not sunk, there would now be absolutely nothing left of them expect a few internal fittings somewhere. So, yes, if an underwater Britannic museum ever comes about it would be a wonderful thing, allowing ordinary people the chance to see what there of her left to see, which is infinitely more than would survive any hare-brained scheme to bring her to the surface. Her steel must be so knackered by now that you probably couldn't even make a half decent razor blade with it!