To salvage or not to salvage the moral dilemma

A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
Hi Everyone:

This is my first post on this forum, so please forgive me if this topic has already been brought up.

How do others feel about the salvaging that has gone on with Titanic? I am torn between thinking that the wreckage should have been left completely intact, and knowing that the wreck will eventually succumb to the dust of the Atlantic sea floor anyway. In other words, in an ideal world I think that the wreck should have been left intact, but I think that bringing some to the surface may help to sustain interest in Titanic, educate future generations, and may be a way - a different way - of paying respect.

What do others think?
 

Steve Smith

Member
Mar 20, 2011
151
0
46
Hi Alex...
Welcome to the board...!

The subject of salvage or not salvage is often brought up and discussions can get er... heated. Look down the threads in this section especially and you'll find plenty of opinions. Here are the three most recent examples -

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5932/38035.html?1038802814

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5932/33407.html?1037723018

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5932/33433.html?1035309904

As you'll find, however long it's discussed there's never, ever an answer that everyone agrees on
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
> (Let me see if I can figure out this "replying by email" thing.)

Thanks for the reply. I expected that this would be a controversial topic. I *myself* am torn on it. Like I said, on one hand I think it should be left alone, on another hand I think that it should be preserved for historical and educational purposes . . . and all that's going to happen with it all at the bottom of the Atlantic is that it will deteriorate and disappear.

Wouldn't it be great if we could do both?
 

Steve Smith

Member
Mar 20, 2011
151
0
46
Andrew -

At the time he found the wreck Dr Ballard spoke about using the wreck as an "undersea museum" where, as I understand it, there'd be a permanent "telepresence" whereby schools, colleges etc could see live pictures from the wreck. Although it never came to be, I always thought this was a neat way to both respect the wreck AND make it available for, as you say, historical and educational purposes. It wouldn't actually conserve the remains of course: but realistically that's just impossible: the ship is way too big and far too badly deteriorated to even consider conservation. Sad fact though it is, the vast majority of what's left WILL eventually be lost - but we have some amazing artifacts, images and descriptions of her that I'm sure will mean that people will still be fascinated by Titantic long after the wreck itself has ceased to be
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
> Hi Steve:

I really admire (as I'm sure we all do) Mr. Ballard. He is my hero!
happy.gif


I think I have to be honest, part of me *really* wishes that everything had been left alone at the bottom of the sea. But I think that now that things have been brought up, I am trying to look on the bright side, and that makes me admit that, yes, if I had a chance to see, say, the "Big Piece," I would go see it. I would love to see it, and to touch it. (I heard that some exhibit actually has a piece you can touch.)

It's too bad that what Ballard suggested did not come to pass.

About it deteriorating (this is probably going to sound crude to some, and, I admit, it does even to me [a little bit]), I hope they are able to get more pieces of Titanic up to the surface before that happens. Maybe they could get that famous bow up here. As we've mentioned, if it's all just going to rust and disappear eventually anyway, then I think it's best to bring as much as possible up here.

I mention the person who said that for future generations, Titanic will not be a myth but a fact. They will probably want to *see* as much as they can. Let me try to make an analogy: with the Egyptian artifacts, they were in an environment that sustained them for millennia. Titanic is not. If *our* generation, our age, doesn't perserve what we can of Titanic, then future generations won't even have a choice to make in it. Get what I mean?

There are also the different ways of looking at how memorials should be done. I remember watching a documentary on the "Day of the Dead" in Mexico. The narrator of the documentary went to a graveyard where people had decorated their family members' tombs and graves. There were crowds around one well decorated grave, and many people were taking pictures of the grave and video taping the display. The narrator (and English man) thought it was rude, and asked the man by the grave how he felt about people filming his father's grave and taking pictures of it. The son said that he felt that people taking pictures of the grave was not tacky or disrespectful, but that it was a way to show respect. So, there are just different perspectives. It's kind of like with Sept. 11th, is the best way to honor them to preserve that site forever, or to go about our business to show that the terrorists couldn't stop us?

The point I'm trying to make is that I can see how people who say that Titanic should be left as-is, they are paying their respects in one way. And I see that people who think artifacts should be brought up, they are paying respects in another way. At least, that's how I see it.

As I type this, there are (I believe) still three known Titanic survivors alive. So, Titanic still "touches" us. Our lifespans - those of us currently living - have crossed with those who survived Titanic. The coming generations won't have that, and they may feel differently about Titanic.
 

Leona Nolan

Member
Dec 17, 2002
75
0
136
In my personal opinion I think that the Titanic should be left alone!! I don't think that plundering a gravesite is anyway respectful!! As for capturing it for future generations, you don't need to touch a piece of the Titanic or any of its artefacts to capture the essence of this great ship!!
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
Well, I suppose that's the main question, the main point of contention: is the Titanic wreck a gravesite?

My opinion is that it isn't. It's a place where people died; a place where people didn't expect to die. There is a difference.

On the other hand, Egyptian mummies *were* in their graves.

Rather than siding with either side - I've already stated how I myself even have a conflict about it - I want to *understand* both opinions because, as I mention, I sort of have both opinions.

But if this discussion starts to get too heated, I'm just gonna back out of it. I'm not interested in arguing or fighting over this on an Internet forum. The truth of the matter is that my opinion on this matter has "0" effect on whether things are brought up or not. How could it when things already *have* been brought up?
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
3
68
Artifacts have been recovered..whether or not things should be retrieved is a moot point....

Tangible links in the form of artifacts from Titanic should be retrieved..sorry, but photos in a book are no substitute for the real thing...

Tarn Stephanos
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
>

I sometimes wonder if maybe the idea that we shouldn't bring up artifacts is founded on the thought that "haven't we learned our lesson." You know what I mean?

For example, the cause of Titanic's disaster was an over-confidence in technology. Now we have the technology to go down and retrieve Titanic's remains. Does it seem to some, then, that we didn't learn from Titanic what we were supposed to learn: that technology shouldn't make us arrogant?
 

Smith Mize

Member
Dec 20, 2002
81
0
136
Well why not? I'm not saying that I would agree with something like 'raising the Titanic' or something drastic like that. I certainly wouldn't mind if the White Star Line decided to salvage some china, chair remains, things like that. Could you blame them? It is their ship after all.

- Smith sammith77@msn.com
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
3
68
White Star no longer exists...they merged with Cunard in 1934, and the last of the pre merger White Star ships were scrapped bu the 60s..

Plus the Titanic was written off as lost when she sunk, insurance paid, so White Star abandoned ownship anyway once they collected insurance from the sinking.


Tarn Stephanos
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
The problem with this debate about whether salvaging is proper or not, is that it really is not founded upon concepts of legality, but on concepts of morality, emotion, and dare we even say spirituality.

The "problem" with this is that we all have different concepts of what it means to be moral. For some, it is moral to leave it all alone; for others it is moral to salvage it and show it to people so those who do not have $35,000 to dive and see it, can see it in exhibits, etc.

This debate reminds me of two other issues in recent memory:

1. The Makah whaling in Washington state.
2. "Kennewick man."

The Makah are the Native American/Indian tribe in upper Washington state who killed a whale in 1999 because they claim that right in a treaty with the USA. Kennewick man is the remains of an indigenous man that were found in the Kennewick, Washington.

On one hand, the Makah very certainly claim the right in a treaty with the USA to be able to whale. They were denied that when the Gray Whale was put on the endangered species list, but then they were allowed when the Gray Whale was taken off. But the real issue is not whether it is "legal" or not; the level on which it is debated is an emotional/spiritual level. For some of the Makah, it is very spiritual to be able to do that; but for a different group of people, the Gray Whale has spiritual connotations as well . . . and that is why they don't want it killed. For those who oppose the whaling, it doesn't matter that it is in their treaty to do that (just because something is legal doesn't make it "right" [it was once legal to have slaves]).

With Kennewick man, indigenous people in the area do not want scientific experiments to be done because they consider the remains to be their ancestors; it has spiritual connotations for them and they believe that he should be peacefully laid to rest with proper tribal ceremonies. For scientists, they believe they have the right - and obligation - to study Kennewick man so as to enlighten us as to our human heritage (and they claim that Kennewick man is from a group that pre-dates the Indian group that wants rights to the remains).

In other words, you really can't legislate spirituality or emotions, and Titanic has spiritual/emotional connotations. So, I think it will always be a controversial and difficult issue.
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
I almost hate to say this, because I have the utmost respect and admiration for Robert Ballard. His credentials and curriculum vitae are impressive. But I also detect a hypocritical streak in him.

On the one hand, he detests the idea of bringing anything up from Titanic (graverobbing, blablabla), but exhibits absolutely no compunction against salvaging the cargo and personal artifacts from two thousand year-old Mediterranean freighters. Apparently in his reality there is a bright line that distinguishes the one case from the other. In mine, there is not.

(It has been cynically suggested that his stance towards Titanic is one of sour grapes resulting from the fact that when he discovered her, he was under contract to the Navy, and therefore couldn't claim any salvage rights himself. Which makes his dichotomy understandable, if not defensible.)
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
That's interseting. I hadn't known that that was a condition of Ballard's original visit.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am rather new to the Titanic "lifestyle." It wasn't until a few days ago that I found out that Ballard had been under contract with the Navy.
 
Oct 12, 2004
86
0
76
Even if one could claim the site as a grave site, would that apply simply to the location or to the ship itself. If one claims the ship itself, then by the same standards the pile of rubble at Ground Zero should not have been cleared. As it will also, ultimately, be the final resting place for a quite a few people. However, the site itself in NY is what people consider to be of importance. Going to the point that it will be altered, rebuilt, memorialized etc. Therefore, couldnt we just say that the actual area is the grave site, and the objects presently sitting down there just coexisting in the same place and available for recovery?
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
Good point. But would any promoter dare to put together a traveling "WTC Artifacts" exhibit and charge admission to show mangled American Express cards and Rolexes?
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
I think this is where the passage of time comes from. I think that we needed 70+ years between the sinking and an exhibit of the sinking. Also, it is different: I have heard that there is an unspoken agreement in Hollywood that no producer is going to make a movie about Sept. 11th, whereas they made movies about Titanic.

Also, there are vast differences between the WTC disaster and the Titanic disaster. The main thing, obviously, is that WTC was the result of a terrorist attack, whereas the Titanic was the result of just a bunch of human blunders and, well, one big iceberg.

There are some similarities, such as the example of the idea of "hallowed ground" and "graveyards," etc. But the other circumstances are different. The sinking of the Titanic did not engulf the USA in a war, etc.
 
Oct 12, 2004
86
0
76
Differences there are, however, the underlying premise is the extreme loss of life and unrecovered remains. And I do believe the WTC site will hold certain shows and events years from now. I believe it has already started to an extent. Not everyone who visits ground zero is there to pay respects to the lost. its morbid curiosity and amusement. It will get to that point. There are groups out there now trying to get their hands on pieces of the rubble to make "memorials" or statues. It is only a matter of time. I used to be of the belief that I never wanted anything removed from the Titanic spot. that was until I visited the Queen Mary for a Titanic exhibit. When I was able to see artifacts actually taken from the site I was deeply moved. I think that being able to display such pieces does a greater justice to Titanic and those lost than leaving it alone. If it can move me, someone born sixty two years after the sinking, then it can move many more people. IT will spark the interests of other people out there who will then learn and research and keep Titanic and all aboard her alive. If it all stays down there not only will it be gone forver, but will she continue to hold the same lore. Just a thought and an opinion.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,588
378
283
Easley South Carolina
Andrew Parodi, I'm sorry, but I had to edit out that photo of The Onion as it's very much protected by copyright and could get you and your host and moderators sued.

To all: If you wish to scan in or publish copyrighted material here, you need to obtain the permission of the copyright holder and indicate such by something such as "Reprinted by permission"

Thank you for your co-operation and understanding.
 
A

Andrew Parodi

Guest
Hi,

Yeah, a little picture on a message board is certainly not worth getting sued over.

I had thought that there were "fair use" laws or that the picture would be considered to be "in the public domain" and therefore everything would be okay. I see pictures get used all over the place on other forums and no one cares.

Oh well.
sad.gif