Should they recover artifacts

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.

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.
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
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,
>>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.
A recent UK documentary featuring Titanic buff James Cameron's last trip to see the wreck brought this subject up. Some scientists on board the search vessel were dismayed at the rapid deterioration of the structure and feared that artifacts that could be easily salvaged now will be lost forever in a few years time.
I'm a bit perplexed with otherwise rational people's quasi-religious fears of " disturbing the dead " and the idea of the wreck being a graveyard as if it were some corny John Carpenter schlock horror film.
Should we have left Ground Zero as it was on the 11th of Sept. in order to respect the dead?
We "desecrate" tragic death sites all the time.
I know Titanic is different in that the site is a frozen snapshot of 15th April 1912, but I can assure you there are no ghosts.

Better to save and preserve these artifacts for future students of this fascinating and absorbing slice of History.
>>Should we have left Ground Zero as it was on the 11th of Sept. in order to respect the dead?<<

I've encountered the odd person who asserted that we should do exactly that. Can't say as I agree with it. It's just there.
Well I'm torn when it comes to this. I think for many a person interested in Titanic, many of us have asked ourselves about this question at some time.

I guess if we could go back in time, it would be nice that the wreck or items scattered across the seabed floor not be disturbed, but since that didnt happen, its my hope that if they have to continue collecting artifacts, at least house all of them in a museum, in a tasteful fashion, for people to learn and see for themselves. As long as it doesnt interfere with the ship itself, as that would be another matter altogether.
Here's an article about artifacts being sold on the black market:


Picture this. It is 11:40 p.m., April 14, 1912.

You are one of the 1,523 people about to perish on the brand-new "unsinkable" Titanic, but you don't know it yet.

For the rest of the story, click here.​
Jason, there are about 18 different versions of the "black market" story. I uncovered it with the help of a couple of friends a few weeks ago, and the BBC asked for first rights to air it. Not only did they air it, but they did a wonderful job investigating it further in the UK. The BBC team that came here to interview me were top-of-the-line professionals.

Here's a link to the BBC documentary:

for the Link to the BBC program that investigated the rogue expedition.

To see the actual broadcast, click on the link under the picture of the ship's crew.

I will admit there are a few statements about me that aren't 'quite' accurate, but had to be altered due to legal advice. For example, I have been to the wreck site TWICE. I have never dived, and my ROV has only been ONCE.

But... after researching this story since 2003, it is GOOD to see the truth begin to come out. There will be more.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your comments and the link. I'll have to take a look at that broadcast when I have some more time.

It's really unfortunate that there is no information as to how these artifacts ended up in private hands. Is the investigation still ongoing?


I have never dived, and my ROV has only been ONCE.

That was one thing I questioned, as to whether you had dived to the wreck site or not. I figured you hadn't, since I didn't recall seeing it posted here. I concur with you, it is enlightening to see that the truth is starting to come to light. I'll be watching for more.

Best regards,

Bill, my father showed me the BBC News Story about the apparent "rogue artifact retrieval expeditions" (MY TERM, ONLY). We saved the tape, as my father usually copies over each days' broadcast.

I enjoyed seeing your interview, and it's always a pleasure to see Millvina interviewed.

The one glaring error that I couldn't believe was shown was having Millvina listed as "The Last British Survivor", unless Barbara West died recently and nobody mentioned anything.
I'll be paying attention as well. I have no real quibbles with salvage and conservation when it's done by the numbers, but the prospect of rogue/pirate expeditions is another matter. It tramples on the legitimate interests of anyone who has any legal rights and it also destroys anything that might be taken for context from which we might learn something.

However, as Bill indicated in the article, the Atlantic Ocean is mighty difficult to police. It's not as if anyone can really afford to have a Coast Gaurd cutter or a warship watching over things 24/7.
hey everyone, this is my first post so please excuse my inquisitive, yet inexperienced questions!
i think i'm gonna do a paper in college about the titanic, and the question of morality regarding salvaging artifacts and stuff.
but i'm completely on the fence: first of all i think that its morally wrong for anyone to disturb the titanic, given that it is the grave of so many people, but on the other hand, if someone can learn about the titanic, and the people who died on it from these artifacts, etc, would it not be a good thing to raise the ship/artifacts ?
can anyone help with their opinions?
Hello Helen,

Welcome aboard. Personally speaking, I have no problem with the artifacts being raised if it's for the right reasons and at the same time paying respect to the passengers and crew that perished. I used to be a fence sitter as well on this, but that was before I came into contact with the artifacts. From my own personal experience, several years ago I worked at a Titanic Exhibition where we had over 200 artifacts displayed and many of those artifacts were able to provide more information about their respective owner, which otherwise may have been lost to history forever, including the artifacts themselves. The stories that they told were so interesting and very in depth, that it changed my opinion of salvage forever. To date, approximately 6000 artifacts have been raised from the wrecksite and a lot has been learned, so the recovery of them has been extremely valuable to researchers and historians alike. From a scientific and conservation point of view, it's important to retrieve as much as possible.

Some people in the Titanic community feel that nothing can be learned from the items, but I respectfully disagree as every artifact has a story to tell; it's just that some are much harder to unlock than others.

But, when there is talk of going into the wreck itself to salvage items, that's where I take issue. It's morally wrong and shouldn't be considered, plus the wreck would deteriorate a lot faster. There's also a safety issue as well, with regards to the submersibles and their crew.

As far as the ship being raised, that will never happen due to the fact that she is too far down at a depth of approximately 12,500 feet and would literally crumble like a cookie even before she reached the surface. So much iron has been eaten out of her by the rusticles over the years, that there would be nothing left. The only artifact that has been raised from the wrecksite currently that was actually a part of the ship, is the "Big Piece" which is a 20 tonne portion of the hull. It was raised on a second attempt in August 1998 after the first one failed two years earlier due to bad weather.

If I've forgotten anything, I'm sure someone else will chime in, but I hope this helps. All the best on your paper.