To salvage or not to salvage the moral dilemma


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"At this point focus should be on how to deal with the artifacts that are up- It is imperative they all receive proper conservation- and continue to be viewable by the public, rather than being sold off to private collectors."

I think Tarn hit the nail on the head. The pro- and anti-salvage crowds will never agree. So why spend any more time shouting at the rain? What we believe should happen in the future will in no way change what has already been done and what has already been brought to the surface from the wreck. Before we can begin discussing what should or shouldn't be retrieved, we must first take care of and preserve what has already been discovered. Who ever is responsible for the well being of these artifacts, whether it be RMSTI or some other body, must step up and do their part in preserving what we have and housing the artifacts in a permanent home so future generations can learn from them as we have. Until that happens, I believe this argument of ‘to salvage or not to salvage’ is immaterial.
 
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Jeff Kelley

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I would tend to agree. One other point, though. The entity that owns the artifacts is still a private corporation as far as I know, which means that if it ever goes bankrupt, its assets will be sold off to the highest bidder. (This almost happened to R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. in its prior incarnation.) And, of course….the artifacts are “assets”.

People might well think about this so that if/when the time comes there might be some way to react in time. Better yet, maybe something can be done to convince the owners to move these into some sort of trust now so that they will never be at the mercy of the auctioneer’s gavel. (Perhaps this has already been done but I am not aware if it).
 
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Dana Cantu

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Everyone has really good points. However, I really feel that taking artifacts from the ship, is good and bad. The good I see is, look at all the fantastic things we get to see in museums and traveling exhibits!! Also, yes it is an underground graveyard and indeed should be respected. I'm new here by the way, nice to meet everyone!
 
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Where do you draw the line?

Mike, I agree with your concerns about forensics. However, consider that removing such items does affect forensics study, too, and not always in a good way.

For example, everything situated where and how it is/was tells us something about the sinking and what actually happen that night. Move it or remove it and you eliminate a potentially vital piece to that puzzle. This would be akin to corrupting or compromising a crime scene.

Look at CSI. Touching any part of that crime scene not only threatens evidence, but is against the law and is subject to charges brought on the instigator. If you value the evidence at a crime scene, you must not touch any of it until all of the information is acquired to make a thorough analysis.

This means that such items belong to people is notwithstanding. On the other hand, the fact that the items involved in a crime scene DO belong to people is another primary reason for leaving them right where they are. The placement of a weapon says something about the attacker and the crime committed.

The story of Titanic's sinking is still emerging. The fact that certain aspects are in debate suggests that we haven't obtain all the pieces to that 'puzzle' mentioned above, so the scene of the wreck must continue to be studied.

Moving or removing items--whatever they may be--could compromise the evidence we need to ascertain further information on the sinking.

That being said, I agree that close study of the items does, too, render important information necessary for expanding on Titanic's story, as well as to provide visual remnants of an era gone by and a horrible tragedy that will be forever our minds and imaginations.​
 
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I'm new here by the way, nice to meet everyone!

Welcome, Dana. I hope to get to know you on the board. Things are usually very interesting around here, so I'm sure you'll become engaged.

As to the 'good and bad' you mentioned, my post above resonates with that. Aside from the moral aspect, this debate is an unresolvable conundrum for that very reason.​
 
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Dana Cantu

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Thank you Mark!

I've read through out many posts and different discussions, and I can tell things become really interesting. I also think that many of the conversations here are extremely intelligent and are wonderful questions I myself would never thought to have asked.
 
>>Mike, I agree with your concerns about forensics. However, consider that removing such items does affect forensics study, too, and not always in a good way.<<

You have a point there and that's why I'm not a supporter of random salvage. I am in favour of careful and responsible recovery and preservation with respect to context.

Beyond that, let's be mindful of the consequences of any approach. Simply scooping things up in a random and haphazard manner without regard to context only serves to destroy what might be learned from the wreck. There are a lot of unanswered questions out there and the wreck still has a lot to say.

By the same token, leaving anything down there is not preservation. Time and salt water will continue to do it's relentlessly destructive thing, human intervention or not. If preservation matters, then recovery and conservation is essential. If leaving the wreck undisturbed matters using the gravesite arguement as a justification, then any artifacts of historical value eventually will be lost.

Make no mistake about it, those are the stakes.
 
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If preservation matters, then recovery and conservation is essential. If leaving the wreck undisturbed matters using the grave site argument as a justification, then any artifacts of historical value eventually will be lost.

I am not talking about preservation OR grave sites, although both are valuable considerations; I was referring to the acquisition of important knowledge that can only be ascertained through the actual, undisturbed state of things at the wreck site. Everything in its place has a story of its own that ties into the overall picture of the sinking.


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Beyond that, let's be mindful of the consequences of any approach.

Yes, exactly! But that might not always lead to recovery of items.

Preservation does prevent deterioration, which is definitely necessary. That is why I am not against it, as well as the fact that we can learn things from close examination of those items. We definitely need to maintain physical traces of Titanic to keep her alive.

I am only saying that extracting those items/artifacts should be done in a time-appropriate and extremely careful fashion because we can learn a lot from keeping some items right where they are as well. Taking the chance of removing the wrong items could destroy any chance of obtaining certain crucial information.

Could that be one reason why we are now still lacking definitive conclusions regarding some points in the sinking? Just a possibility.

I'm not saying, NEVER recover items, just don't extract them hastily to beat deterioration. Studying their state and place as part of the wreck should be the first consideration.​
 
>>I am not talking about preservation OR grave sites<<

However, partisans in this debate are talking about exactly that. That's why I made the points that I did. I was speaking to people in general. I wasn't singling you out.

What it all boils down to is that both considerations can't be easily dismissed, nor should they be, but regardless of what side anybody falls on, they had best make up their minds which consideration takes priority.
 
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I was speaking to people in general. I wasn't singling you out.

Oh, okay. I thought you were addressing me.


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they had best make up their minds which consideration takes priority.

Agreed! That should lead direction. If priority is preservation, recovery comes first; if priority is obtaining knowledge of what happened, studying the wreck site takes precedence, etc.​
 
Based on the information I have, this discussion is likely moot. I don't think anybody is going back to the wreck site in the near future, if at all. At least not the people I know.
 
>>I don't think anybody is going back to the wreck site in the near future, if at all. <<

Not likely legitimately anyway, and that is a matter of some concern since we know it's happened at least once already. Are RMSTI and the Russians still on the outs with each other?
 
"Are RMSTI and the Russians still on the outs with each other?"

Yes.

Before anybody pays millions to mount another illegitimate expedition, they have to consider the costs involved to do so versus the benefits, if any, of recovering stolen artifacts. Legal fees and fuel costs have all gone up since the rogue expedition in 2001, and nobody likes to see their face on the front page of the newspaper after they undertake a "secret" expedition. It's bad for your reputation, and for business.
 
>>Yes. <<

Guess they won't be a player in the game for quite awhile then. If ever at all.

>>Sorry about that.<<

Chloe, you have nothing to apologize for. You expressed a strongly held opinion and it's a stand you share with a lot of people. I may not quite agree with it, but on subjective matters of opinion, the line between what's right and what's wrong is often pretty fuzzy. Sometimes, there is no right and wrong. Just different perspectives.
 
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