Salvage Opinions


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Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I've decided to start a new topic in lieu of keeping the original thread on track.

Thanks for the reply, Teri. I'll deftly try to answer your responses.


<<Adam, I was under the impression she survived until October 17, 1937.

Indeed. Final demolition occurred on your described date, but I was referring to when she was formally removed from service.

<<We know Titanic because there is a gigantic Message Board here where many people share their knowledge. I'll bet if there was an Egyptian Message Board more might be known of tombs and other similar topics. I also believe strongly in books, and am of the belief that one can learn a great deal of history, of plants, of animals, of life, of people, of the stars and any other topic of choice through books and other printed material.

Keep in mind there was a time when message boards did not exist. This very board would not exist without the foundation of knowledge amassed between the sinking and ET's inception.

As to an Egyptian board, I think that's a fairly poor analogy, since, as I had stated before, we know virtually nothing about ancient Egyptian history and culture. There are no frames of reference, whereas Titanic's frame of reference is well known, not only by people who have lived in the era, but by the mass number of materials and related documents on the subject. Ancient Egyptians did not have books, photographs, or survivors of the period who can share their knowledge with us. I also stated I have no qualms with explorers visiting the wreck; only direct salvage. As already stated, a vast trove of information has been obtained by Cameron's recent expedition.

<<For myself, I am wavering between the two. I must admit, I am not voracious in a monetary sense, but conversely, in a sense that I have an insatiable desire to hold a piece of Titanic in my hands. No, I do not own a piece of Titanic at this time, but my pining for it remains, unfulfilled. The closest thing I have to a piece of Titanic is a first edition of a very rare Titanic book in which I paid $250 for. It is the "baby" of my collection.

There are rarely any Titanic enthusiasts who do not share your desire. I sometimes think that to be a prerequesite for becoming a buff on the subject, though I could be mistaken. As for myself, I too have often wished to have a piece. My mother gave me a piece of coal she had bought from RMSTI as a present, and I have many ambivalent feelings toward that.

<<<<There will be one day when salvage from the Titanic could be necessary to preserve the memory of not only that particular event, but also the era in which she existed.

<<Maybe, and maybe not. The character Leopold in "Kate & Leopold" was meticulously depicted and is the epitome of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A consultant or someone else from the movie must have done their homework to bring this era alive in the film.

That's correct. The "some day" I was referring to may be as far as a thousand years from now. There is no way to divine the future, and it may not be pleasant. Or it could very well be a bright one for historical preservation. As I'm fond of saying, only time will tell.
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Any other thoughts and opinions are welcome.


Adam
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Hello Adam,

<<Hopefully future salvors will not choose to use explosives on the wreck in search of "hidden treasure" or the like, but instead allow Titanic to slowly fade in her current environment.>>

If the proper person/entity purchases RMSTI, I should hope they would protect Titanic from such a hideous demise.

<<Adam, I was under the impression she survived until October 17, 1937.
Indeed. Final demolition occurred on your described date, but I was referring to when she was formally removed from service.>>

Thanks for the clarification on what you were referring to. I didn't think you were uneducated of that date, but it did crease my eyebrows a bit.

<<Ancient Egyptians did not have books, photographs, or survivors of the period who can share their knowledge with us. I also stated I have no qualms with explorers visiting the wreck; only direct salvage.>>

A most perfect paragon given here. I think I'm finally grasping your slant on salvage. As I re-read your post, I got the revelation that you're at ease with expeditions down to the wreck as many times as can be arranged but the line crosses over when materials get expunged. I quite understand that, but what I want to know specifically is, does your slant have the totality of ONLY respect for the ship, or is there an additional underlying viewpoint I am missing?

<<My mother gave me a piece of coal she had bought from RMSTI as a present, and I have many ambivalent feelings toward that.>>

That was a very nice thought from your mother, and I hope you thanked her endlessly. I have yet to receive any such gift from a family member of mine. I've received gifts from friends, which I am very thankful for and who share my same interest.

Perhaps your feelings of ambivalence come from the heart, meaning do you feel like you're taking a part of the ship that doesn't belong to you?

Sincerely,

Teri
 

Adam Leet

Member
May 18, 2001
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Teri,

<<I quite understand that, but what I want to know specifically is, does your slant have the totality of ONLY respect for the ship, or is there an additional underlying viewpoint I am missing?

It is respect for the ship, but that respect is through my deeper respect for the victims of the disaster. Along with that, I am opposed to the salvage of personal affects from the debris field as well as the main hull sections themselves. As has been stated on another thread, there are concerns that some salvage has already taken place on the bow and/or stern sections. That, of course, also violates the initial legal agreement that the main wreck would remain untouched. Of course, it's only a concern, and I am not privy to any real evidence that this is the case.

<<Perhaps your feelings of ambivalence come from the heart, meaning do you feel like you're taking a part of the ship that doesn't belong to you?

For the most part, perhaps. I do also try to remember that it's simply a piece of coal, and could have come from anywhere. It would take a trained specialist with an appropriate laboratory setup available to determine with a degree of accuracy whether it came from Titanic.


Adam
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Hi Adam!

I completely understand your feelings of respect for the victims, for out of fear more than anything else, I have stayed away from researching victims, contacting victims, and writing about victims. I leave that job entirely to Phil Gowan and Brian Meister, as they do that job well enough.

I also understand your feelings of salvaging personal effects, and this is where I really started evaluating my own thoughts and feelings on the matter. I must admit, at this point I am sharing your viewpoint even though I was initially pro salvage.

I am of the mind that expeditions should be conducted to learn and cameras to do filming. Reproductions of items filmed can be made afterwards, and sold for profit if desired. But these are reproductions, not originals.

What I want to say is that I approve of taking care of artifacts that have already been salvaged, but any new ones? I guess I don't really want to believe that RMSTI owns the ship. I want to believe that no one owns the ship and therefore she should be left alone. You could say I am definitely confused!
crazy.gif


I am going to elaborate in a different way now but my elaboration still pertains to salvage. Adam, you are going to think me daft for saying this, but I say it because I am trying to figure out who owned the ship after it sank. This I should do more research on, but I already have my hands VERY FULL.

At the time Titanic went down, she was owned by the White Star/Morgan empire.

I am well aware that RMSTI inherited the rights from a court to protect her and salvage her in any way they see fit, but perhaps I am just a wee bit old fashioned to say that she still belongs to the White Star/Morgan empire which has changed hands considerably since 1912. (I am hoping no one tells me that Titanic did not have an owner at the time RMSTI inherited rights)

There seems to be two issues going on here:

1) At the time Titanic went down in 1912, she was owned by White Star and Morgan
2) Above the water line in 1999, (approximate date) RMSTI claims ownership to her

My lord, what happened to her in between???

Forever Baffled,

Teri
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I suspect an expert on maritime law would have to answer this one, but my understanding is that a ship which has been abandoned then written off as a total loss becomes fair game for anyone willing to have a go at it. RMSTI simply got there first.

(Note, "Fair game" does not apply to warships, which I understand remain the property of the nation which owned them.)

Now, I'll wait and hope an expert in salvage law speaks up.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Teri,

As to your earlier post, for someone or some entity to 'purchase' RMSTI, it would cost in the hundreds of millions. This person or entity would inherit numerous problems as well as the archives and artifacts, and there is no individual or entity with that kind of investment capital. Not even Cameron. Why would someone spend $200 million dollars to put in 60-70 hours per week in a venture that will bring him one tenth of the money he makes per film right now?

When a ship sinks, insurance usually pays off the company that owned her. Lloyd's paid off White Star right after the sinking. The ship no longer belonged to White Star. Think of an auto accident. If you total your car, and insurance pays you, they then own the remains. As of White Star's incorporation into the Cunard line, the main Titanic responsibility was to keep up the Halifax cemeteries.

When a ship sinks and 'disappears' in the physical sense, it is considered 'abandoned' after so many years. The vessel, if later discovered, can be salvaged. It is admiralty law, as Michael stated above.

In the court case, in 1993, Judge Clarke in Norfolk awarded salvor status to RMSTI. The actual case title has the ship as defendant "vs. The Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel...". Others were after the salvage rights as well.

Jack Grimm, for example, had a deal working with the Home Shopping Network to sell Titanic keychains, made of pieces of the hull. Tulloch simply stated "not interested" when he was approached with the same deal.

So Tulloch's RMSTI shooed away the vultures in the early 90's.

There is no simple solution.

To answer your above thoughts, after payments were received from the Insurance carrier, White Star (International Mercantile Marine) did not own Titanic, nor the rights to her. For 70+ years, she was 'abandoned', and during the last 9 years rights to salvage her has been granted to RMSTI. This includes the guardianship of the artifacts.

Bill
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Hello Bill & Adam,

<<There is no simple solution.>>

Indeed, there is no simple solution my friend. I have some particulars I'd like to discuss with you.

<<When a ship sinks and 'disappears' in the physical sense, it is considered 'abandoned' after so many years. The vessel, if later discovered, can be salvaged. It is admiralty law, as Michael stated above.>>

First, let's define "salvage."

salvage - to save from loss or ruin. (taken from The American Heritage Student Dictionary)

Nowhere in that definition does it mention money. Money in the sense that in order to salvage, one has to pay out money. In addition, the definition does not state anything about ownership.

I ask you, did RMSTI purchase the rights to salvage by paying the courts money for her? The reason I ask is because you yourself said in your last post that, "there is no individual or entity with that kind of investment capital." I will assume here for the moment that RMSTI did not outright "purchase" Titanic's ruins. If this be the case, then (correct me if I'm wrong) this means that her ruins were actually "given" to RMSTI by the courts.

If I am correct, then my only point in all this is that no one really "owns" the ship, therefore no one has the right to take anything off of her. Granted, salvor status was awarded and given out, but this does not designate "ownership." To me, it only designates a temporary status to take things off of her and leave the rest.

A very tedious point indeed, but I am trying to compute my own position on salvage, you understand.

Yours,

Teri
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,661
871
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Easley South Carolina
The way RMSTI aquired salvage rights was by being first out to the wreck site to recover artifacts, and to retain such salvage rights, they have to maintain a continuous and ongoing presence by more expeditions and artifact recovery. Once they fail in this, then to my knowladge and understanding, the Titanic becomes fair game for anyone with the equipment and resources who can get out there.

While I am far from being the greatest fan of RMSTI, (No secret there.) I'm hoping that the problems there can be streighted out and that George Tulloch's original vision can be made to happen by way of a museum where all these artifacts will be properly cared for in a permanent home. If RMSTI goes out of the picture, the one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that somebody else will come in to fill the void.

Some may dislike RMSTI, and for their own good reasons...I won't waste time argueing with any of them...but you can be certain whoever steps up to the plate if RMSTI disappears will be no improvement.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Bill Willard

Member
Mar 24, 2001
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Teri,

Don't use the dictionary, use the LEGAL TERM definition of salvage. There is a major difference.

"No one has that kind of investment capital" referred to your statement about someone coming in and buying the company.

RMSTI did have to outlay money to go to the site and recover, then preserve the artifacts. So technically, yes, they paid for the right, but not to the Court. Had Grimm found her before Ballard, he could have the rights if he followed the proper procedures.

Try looking on the web at a few salvage cases such as the Central America or the Atoche. Both of those pushed the salvage laws to the max, and re-definied them for legal cases to follow. Titanic is not the first, nor will it be the last case on salvage law.

Bill
 
Apr 7, 2001
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Dear Bill,

I do not like any of this. It really leaves a rather sore feeling in my gut. I am more sorry for Titanic than I have ever been. Although RMSTI put out money for salvor status, I feel that they got the good end of the bargain. And now they want to get rid of her valuables? Good lord, there isn't hardly a positive thing to be said on this matter.

As for salvage, I still need more time to think about things.

I will see about looking up the legal definition when I return from Las Vegas visiting my sister.

Yours,

Teri
 
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