Salvage News From Norfolk

John Clifford

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Nov 12, 2000
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Everybody, there has been a decision made regarding the salvage rights to Titanic. Apparently the Appeals Court in Norfolk, VA, has ruled against RMSTI. I heard the story on local station KNX 1070; to quote the morning anchorwoman, the salvage rights have now “gone down like the Titanic”￾.
I will let you know if any further news if forthcoming.
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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Just scanned it. My impression is that it's a good thing--in a nutshell, it looks like RMSTI's attempt to get clear title to the recovered artifacts was foiled. Given that RMSTI was requesting a salvor's award of $225 million in the event that the courts denied clear title (the sum was also denied), their plans for the artifacts once they had gained clear title can't have been good.

--Jim
 
May 9, 2001
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Well, had WSL paid H&W for the ship in full at the time of the sinking? Perhaps H&W could claim a lien upon the wreck.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Well, had WSL paid H&W for the ship in full at the time of the sinking?<<

As far as I know, they did. Harland And Wolff worked on a cost-plus contract where the bills were paid as they went, with a fixed percentage added on as the profit. They didn't actually offer loan deals they way a car dealer would. In fact, I don't think White Star even took out a loan for any of those ships. They might have floated a bond issue, but that would amount to little pieces of the risk being sold to hundreds or even thousands of investors.

I think we need to look to the insurance companies that would have paid off on the claims made by the line...or whatever their corperate decendants are.
 

Mark Taylor

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Mar 18, 2005
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>I think we need to look to the insurance companies that would have paid off on the claims made by the line...or whatever their corporate descendants are.<

From what I recall looking at the legal record some years ago,all claims have been paid. One insurance company (a descendent of one that paid a claim on Titanic back in 1912) did get some money from RMS Titanic when the salvage claim was filed.

Under prevailing maritime law, RMS Titanic does not own the artifacts but merely holds them under the authority of the court. Usually this is to allow whatever claimants to appear and then usually hold a sale and divide proceeds between the salvager and claimants. In this case, the court decided the historical significance of the wreck meant that the artifacts be used for the public interest.

And the appeals court agrees. So RMS Titanic, if it decides to sell the entire artifact collection, has to sell it to a party that will keep them in the public interest as well in order to get court approval.

Mark Taylor
titanicnewschannel.com
 
Nov 29, 2005
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Under the law of salvage, the owner of the artifacts must pay a "liberal" salvage award to the salvor. If no owner comes forward, the court has discretion to award the artifacts recovered to the salvor as payment for its services.

That is what RMST is asking the court to do now. The court may do that, or it may award the artifacts with restrictions on their use and/or sale, or it may just say RSMT has earned enough from its exhibitions and order the artifacts donated to another organization that will put them on public display.
 

Mark Taylor

Member
Mar 18, 2005
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>The court may do that, or it may award the artifacts with restrictions on their use and/or sale, or it may just say RSMT has earned enough from its exhibitions and order the artifacts donated to another organization that will put them on public display.<

Both the lower court and the three judge panel of the Fourth Circuit have denied the attempt to gain ownership of the artifacts. Now they can appeal to the full appeals court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the chances of being successful are not high.

As for the artifacts, the best possible outcome is that a museum (or consortium of museums) pools together the necessary funds and buys them from RMS Titanic. I cannot see a private business putting up the money due to the court's restrictions on the artifacts.

The worst of all outcomes is that the company declares bankruptcy with the artifacts becoming the proverbial jewel in the crown that the creditors want to sell off to pay the outstanding debts. That would be a mess with all kinds of filings and overlapping issues between the maritime and bankruptcy laws.

Mark Taylor
titanicnewschannel.com