Should they recover artifacts

Matt Smith

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Sep 23, 2002
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Do you think that they should recover artifacts? I know that there are many opinions out there but do you agree or disagree?

I think that they should under the rules that it must not be from the ship but from around on the ocean floor and that the artifacts must not be sold but put on display. I think that people can learn a lot from the artifacts and they can keep the Titanic story alive.
 
May 8, 2001
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Matt. RE: Titanic artifact recovery. Well, my answer is twofold. 1. The people to ask, I believe, are the victims and family. It was their ultimate loss. 2. Now that they have done it, the real question is, what are they going to do with it? Unfortunately we have instances where artifacts have attempted to be stolen, and now comes the legality of keeping the artifacts together, and not sold for gain, or to pay off the debt that has built up.
What makes Titanic so special and different? Artifact recovery and salvage happens all the time, on and about ships, but 95% of the time I fail to see the outcry, outrage, or applause for them. I also believe that it has allot to do with how it is presented and if the purpose is well defined beforehand. For example: The Civil War ironclad "USS Monitor". They have been trying to recover the vessel since ~1974~. Not just the goods that fell out when she sank. I sat on the edge of my seat this past summer, and cheered for them with great reverence when they succeeded in bringing up the turret. As they long suspected, there was human remains inside, and personal reminders of that fateful night. 12-31-1862. (Disclaimer..I am not trying to say we should attempt to bring up the Titanic in any way, shape or form.) Though I don't live where the restoration and display will be, from what I understand from those that do live there, they are proud to have her to display as part of their heritage. Her purpose was well defined, and with lots of hard work and determination, the Monitor is available for generations to come.
I look forward to one day seeing the USS Monitor in person, and since the Titanic artifacts are in my home state, I am anxious to see them, too.
Sincerely,
 
Mar 15, 2001
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I have always had mixed emotions on this issue. While I have always enjoyed seeing the artifacts in museums, I still feel that the area where the Titanic rests is a gravesite and should be respected as such. While people tend to think as the Titanic disaster as something that happened a long time ago, there are a few people alive today who are still greatly affected by this tragedy.
 

amy sutak

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Mar 6, 2006
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I agree with all of you.I agree with what they said when they found it that it should left alone.But I have mixed feelings on it when I went to the exhibit I felt amazed. I will always remember seeing the d deck door.I want my children to see what I have saw and if the items were not saved they might not get the chance to see a piece of history that changed the world in many ways.I plan on going back many times and taking my little boys with me.I would love for them to see the items.To me each and every item I looked at moved me I felt like I was paying my respects to the lives lost.
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
I guess I felt compelled to voice an opinion.

I have always found it odd that most people opposed to Titanic salvage seem completely ambivalent when it comes to artifacts being recovered from other sunken liners (Most notably the Andrea Doria, Lusitania, & Empress of Ireland.

In fact, I once had a friend who came into possession of two sets of first class china from the Andrea Doria. This "friend" agreed with Titanic salvage from the debris field, but vehemently opposed any salvage internally, regularly voicing his opinion on the subject. Tired of all this, I said one day "Well, exactly where did that first-class china from the Andrea Doria come from? (Duh, from the first class dinning room inside the ship) Surely you're not suggesting that the fifty-eight who lost their lives on the Doria are any less significant than the 1,500 who lost their lives on the Titanic?" To which he responded with...nothing.

As cynical as this may sound, I believe the Titanic should be extensively salvaged both internally and externally, especially considering how rapidly the rate of disintegration is accelerating. I would love to see a trunk from Lady Cardeza's wardrobe room, or a steamer trunk from an unknown third class passenger's stateroom.

And I suppose I do feel conflicted throwing my arms up in the air and saying "Well, if they do it with other lost liners, why not with the Titanic?" But that's exactly how I feel. The main purpose of salvaging the Titanic is to share with the world a little tangible sliver of history as poignant as it is exciting. What's so wrong about that?

-Patrick-
 

Leona Nolan

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Dec 17, 2002
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Ah Matt, did you have to open this can of worms again
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I personally don't believe in salvage on either the Titanic or any other ship!! So I'm afraid Matt we're going to have to disagree but I respect yours' and everybody elses' opinion
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May 8, 2001
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True. The subject is listed as one of those well known "powder kegs". Her meaning and what should become of her, is a very personal matter. What the salvage means to one, is seldomly going to mean for another.
Amy, I too was moved when I saw the D-Deck door. It will be a memory I will remember for the rest of my life. I shared that moment with my children, and with any luck, they will pass on the memory to their children.
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Don Tweed

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Mar 30, 2006
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As long as they contain the rescue of these items to the debris field and even maybe to the bow section I am not to offended.
Just leave the stern alone, please.
As Colleen has stated this to be one of the "powder kegs", it's touchy.
Yet, think of the future generations. There will be Titanic enthusiasts among us who have not drawn their first breath. Should they be denied the joy and emotion I know I felt, to view these items?
If they had not retreived these items now they would have at a later date. And by waiting till that time some very poignant pieces of history may have been lost forever.
There are still three who sailed on her.
These fine souls have little or no recolection of her. And if it were possible, I would like to know their opinions on this subject. For to me, theirs would be the final word.
If the time comes I am privlaged to live into my 80's or 90's, and I have passed along my collection of Titanic to my daughters, I see them showing their children all Grandpa collected on Titanic. Instilling them with the same awe and exhuberance I felt.
Then taking them, hopefully willingly, to an exhibit.
Titanic will endure and capture minds far into the future. And to have the physical part of her preserved will instill those yet to be, to carry on her name long after we are gone.
Respectfully, Don
 
Jun 24, 2003
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A few years ago I went on a cruise and one of the stops was Halifax, Nova Scotia. We visited the Maritime Museum. The titanic artifacts on display had been retrieved from the ocean surface shortly after the sinking.

To make a long story short, I believe the Titanic was destined to sink and to me that includes any items included with the sunken ship.
 
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Geoffrey Todd Bennett

Guest
I agree with Patrick....let's retrieve all that we can from Titanic before the ship collapses and we have no way of obtaining artifacts....it would be great to see what lies inside.
Todd
 
Jan 4, 2005
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I am curious as to exactly why it is illegal for the selling of Titanic artifacts on the market, yet liners like the Lusitania, Empress of Ireland, and others have theirs floating all over? Also - I was watching a tv show with earthquakes and noticed a fault line runs under the area where the Titanic lies.... what happens if an earthquake tears through the area, completely destroys the wreck and everything we could have learned was lost forever? Same goes for the collapse. I think I would rather have them salvage the GSC hanging chandelier and save it before the ship collapses and it is destroyed for good.

Regards,
Eddie Petruskevich
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I am curious as to exactly why it is illegal for the selling of Titanic artifacts on the market, yet liners like the Lusitania, Empress of Ireland, and others have theirs floating all over?<<

That's because of RMS Titanic Inc.'s status as "Salvor In Possession." They're the legal custodians of the artifacts and have the sole right of salvage, but they do not legally own the wreck or the artifacts. Unless you're acting as the agent for the lawful owners, you cannot legally sell something you don't own unless you want to risk spending a nice long stretch in prison.

On the other ships you mentioned, the artifacts are already owned by somebody who may legally dispose of them as they wish.
 
Nov 26, 2005
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I have to agree that future Titanic buffs "who have not drawn their first breath" should be allowed the opportunity to see these items as we all have been. So I'm pro-salvage, per se.

I would personally prefer it if they kept salvage to just the debris field and stay away from the 2 main structures. Not only first and foremost for the divers' safety, but also because I do personally feel that it's going a bit too far going inside the wreck to salvage stuff when there's still plenty to be gained from the debris field, plus it could cause further structural damage to the wreck, which is definitely not needed. Mother Nature's taking care of that very well by herself.

I still don't know where I stand on salvaging personal possessions. I'm all for bringing up things that are directly connected with the ship itself, but people's personal things? Still trying to figure out where I stand on that. I love seeing the jewelry and reading the letters, but sometimes I feel like we've crossed a line. Just my opinion/thoughts.
 

Lucy Burkhill

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Mar 31, 2006
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>>RMSTI's salvage activities are confined to the debris field. They are forbidden from salvaging anything from the bow or stern structures of the ship herself<<

I am pleased to read this.

I tend to lean toward the anti-salvage camp. I firmly believe that Titanic should be respected, she is above all a grave. When the wreck was discovered and explored 20 years ago my biggest concern was that Titanic may suffer the violation of having her structure ripped or blasted open so that her insides could be plundered.
Salvage from the debris field- I feel that limited salvage may be permissible as long as any items are put on exhibition and not sold. What should or should not be brought up- items connected directly with the ship, such as bottles or crockery yes, personal possessions no. Another concern I have is that a check should be kept on any salvage from the debris field, it will truly be a sad day if it is ever cleaned out by sheer greed. The debris field has the same poignant, magical quality as the wreck itself. I have just finished reading R Ballard's book Return to Titanic and was saddened to learn that the porcelain doll's head that so spooked Ballard on his first expedition to the wreck had been taken, I hoped that any salvager would have had some conscience and thought twice about taking this most poignant of items. Does anyone know where it ended up or maybe even seen it in an exhibition?

Lucy
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Lucy,
RMST is required to file periodic reports with the Norfolk court over activites at the site, and of other items such as the conditions and care of the artifacts. This is not optional, it is required, and RMST has kept the courts informed. They submit a list of recovered items after an expedition, for example. They inform the court when and where exhibitions will be where the artifacts are to be displayed. At any time, if the court has questions, RMST is obliged, and has cooperated, in answering the questions to the court's satisfaction.

There are several artifacts that are unaccounted for, including the doll face Ballard saw and photographed. Also not seen is the Artemis statue from the same Ballard/Woods Hole photos. There are probably more.

There are THREE groups who have taken a submersible to Titanic. Alvin, the first from Woods Hole, the Russians and the MIRS, numerous times with numerous passengers, and Nautile, from IFREMER, who went only with RMST on RMST-led expeditions.

It can be strongly argued that two of those three groups were monitored by involved parties, Ballard, and RMST. Unsubstantiated rumor has it that the Artemis is in Canada. It should be clearly noted that ALL artifacts recovered by RMST are documented, and in the Court records in Norfolk by way of the company submissions.

If artifacts are missing, I agree it is a travesty and any offenders should be punished severly, to the full extent of the admiralty laws.

Bill
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Lucy, to a point I see where you're coming from. Personally, but I have to point out that the anti-salvage position is more sentimentalist then realistic. Ships that have been wrecked are salvaged all the time, regardless of the death toll or personal sentiments of the families involved. Often there are practical reasons for it, such as when a hulk is a menace to navigation, there's dangerous cargo on board, or extremely valuable items that need to be recovered if at all possible.

Sometimes it's about protecting the environment, sometimes it's to minimize damage or loss to property, and sometimes, it's for no better reason then people making a buck...and the thing is, nobody quibbles with that. In that sense, I have to wonder what it is that makes Titanic so exceptionally especially special above and beyond the call of exceptionally especially special so that salvage is inherently a no-no.

The gravesite argument may be compelling but doesn't tend to hold up well. There are precious few shipwrecks that didn't end up being a grave for somebody. It just isn't in the nature of the beast.

I would submit that if there is one very good argument against salvage, it's because there's really no point. After 94 years, most all those who owned property on the ship are long dead and their lawful heirs and assigns just don't care. There's nothing on the ship that presents much of an environmental hazard that we have the technical means to do anything about, consumable items are long rotted away, and the ship doesn't pose a menace to navigation.

The value of anything on the ship is historical. Surprisingly as it may seem, for all that Titanic is one of the most over documented and misunderstood shipwrecks of all time, there's quite a bit about her that we don't know, especially from a technical standpoint, and a lot of records have long since gone to the local landfill.

I don't much care for random plunder for it's own sake, but careful recovery and conservation of important artifacts as well as a through internal survey of the ship has the potential for answering a lot of nagging questions. In fact, the Cameron expeditions managed to do that and (Of course) raise more questions without touching a thing. I wonder what historical insights could be had by...for example...recovering and restoring the Marconi apparatus while there's still time.
 

Don Tweed

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Mar 30, 2006
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It is a sad fact that there will always be those out there who wish to simply profit from these artifacts. I would like to think that most of the money made from these exhibits goes to pay for the enormous cost of retrieving the artifacts.
I for one would like to see them retrieve the artifacts from the first class cabins and officers quarters. This area of the ship was vacated for the most part. Unlike the stern section, and lower decks of the bow. For relatives of survivors, and victims, of the disaster, for them to view, or even be given these items, would be priceless in my mind.
I wonder what emotions welled up in Edith Haismans' mind when given her fathers pocket watch?
To see a grandchild who never knew their grandmother or grandfather hold, or see, one of their personal items, such as a compact or razor,
might touch them in a way none can tell.
And as Michael stated, there's quite a bit about her that we don't know. And if by salvage we can solve some of the riddles and make a theory a fact, I am all for it.
Best Regards, Don
 

Lucy Burkhill

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Mar 31, 2006
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Ok, I can certainly appreciate that the pro-salvage lobby has a valid point. As regards Don's argument for the salvaging of personal posessions, if I was a relative of anyone who was a victim of the disaster, I would probably welcome the opportunity to hold an item which once belonged to them. I am certainly not against exploration of the wreck- I admit to being interested in this and have watched any tv programmes and read books about it. I did see the Cameron expedition on tv, and it was fascinating to see the remains of the Turkish bath and the teak bedstead of a first-class stateroom. I support the exploration by ROV of the wreck, and the images collated into an archive which can then be shown online. The images from the Cameron expedition have a magical, haunting quality, and I feel that should any of those items shown in the exploration ever be salvaged, then something very special and poignant would be destroyed. To me, these objects have more impact left in situ and viewed on film than they would have if they were placed on display in some exhibition.
Michael's suggestion about recovering and restoring the Marconi apparatus is an interesting one, however, could it actually be salvaged without further damage to the wreck, and as regards its restoration, would this be to any kind of working order or merely cosmetic?
Call me sentimental if you like, I believe that the Titanic deserves to be respected in her old age.

All the best,
Lucy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Michael's suggestion about recovering and restoring the Marconi apparatus is an interesting one, however, could it actually be salvaged without further damage to the wreck,<<

Unlikely. The thing is that absent any human intervention of any kind, the wreck is still disintigrating. The superstructure being made of the thinnest metal is going to go first and with it will also go anything of importance in a mass of twisted debris.

>> and as regards its restoration, would this be to any kind of working order or merely cosmetic?<<

Working order I hope. It's possible to do that.