Video of the Dive


May 27, 2007
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Hi Gaetane

That didn't bother me because I was expecting it. The ship sank so quick that most of the people aboard had no idea what was going on. Most of them were asleep when the collision with the Storstad happened. I myself wouldn't want to dive the wreck because of all the bones. It would be unsettling

I could see why it would be a shock to see all those bones. The Titanic sank in the Ocean so there aren't any bones there or none I've ever seen. But because the Empress sunk in a river the bones are preserved. The ship is pretty well preserved as well.
 
Jan 15, 2008
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Completely true, George.
I just didn't expect to actually see the bones of a victim.
Similar to the sinking of the Estonia and Wilhelm Gustloff. But in Dive footage to those wrecks we never see any bones.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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I watched the videos yesterday, and then had a very interesting discussion with my partner about it afterwards. We were discussing the morality / ethics of removing artifacts from the wreck when there are still visible bones on the wreck itself. I cannot imagine being the divers who bring the artifacts up. "Oh pardon me while I move your skull - there's a nice piece of Mintons under there". It's probably not quite like that in reality, but still. Makes one think ~ ya know?

"What would you do?" was the theme of our discussion. "How would you feel about removing artifacts?" And then even more still, "How would you feel owning / using them when they were brought up?" I mean someone might have had their last meal from that dish or glass. Indeed, someone might have met their tragic end in the same room with that china plate or fixture. Is it any different from, say, taking things from the Arizona in Pearl Harbor? Is it tomb raiding, treasure hunting, or it is historical preservation? All of the above? Gives one pause, no?
 
Jan 15, 2008
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I realise this could be an endless discussion, so one can only state their personal opinion.
Everybody agrees that what happened to the people who died on the Empress of Ireland (or on any other shipwreck for that matter) was a giant tragedy...but keeping everything on the ocean floor (or river floor) won't bring those people back, nor will it soften the suffering their endured. I don't see it as grave robbing, but off course i do feel that the remains of the victims should be treated with all the respect possible. But i dare even go further...Imagine that your own life would be lost in a shipwreck...would you want to remain on the bottom of the ocean, forever. I for one (even though dead) wouldn't want my remains to stay in the cold watery place that 'killed' me. I'd wanna be buried, where my family could be close to me!
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Yes, that is so for me as well, even though it would hard to have any say in the matter after I was dead.
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As for the artifacts, although interesting, I think I might be kinda creeped out by them (owning them - say). It's the same feeling I had when viewing personal artifacts of Titanic victims in the touring RMSTI Exhibitions. Highly interesting, fascinating, and educational, but I think I might feel kinda weird owning them myself personally. Perhaps my thoughts on this might change since there is certainly nothing illegal about owning certain artifacts from the Empress of Ireland.
 
May 27, 2007
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I already said that I wouldn't like diving the Empress myself because I'd think those skulls would be staring at me. Saying all the while put that back you sneak thief.
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Actually I have to think on whether I'd feel comfortable taking artifacts from a wreck with bones on it. My first thought is that it's like taking something out of a grave but I need to think on it a bit more.
 

Mark Reynolds

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Jan 22, 2008
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Hello, folks
Been a while since I have dropped by the site.
I have spent a fair bit of time in and on the Empress over the years.
The references to bones being preserved in fresh water are incorrect as they might refer to the Empress.
Where the Empress is lying, the St. Lawrence River is almost fully salt water. I don't know what level of salinity makes water "saltwater" as I am sure that it varies in oceans all over the world, but over the Empress, the water supports pretty healthy populations of whales, seals, sharks, crab, sea anemones, starfish, etc..
And gear rusts out pretty quickly, too.
Regards
Mark Reynolds
 
May 3, 2002
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"My first thought is that it's like taking something out of a grave but I need to think on it a bit more."

How would you consider it alongside the activities of archaeologists who explore the tombs in Egypt and have removed many artifacts?
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Well, in my case, I think it's a feeling stemming from the disaster's more "recent" occurrence. It's easy for me to dismiss the idea of sacrilege when exploring 4000 year-old graves. Go figure. However, I believe I have gotten over the idea that salvaging things from the Empress is "grave robbing" at this point, but I still think the whole idea of actually diving to the Empress is creepy. Just me I s'pose.

Yet, how do we feel about salvaging things (now) from Pearl Harbor? Would anyone consider that grave robbing? Is it the same thing as salvaging things from the Empress or Titanic? Why or why not?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Yet, how do we feel about salvaging things (now) from Pearl Harbor? Would anyone consider that grave robbing?<<

Since the USS Arizona is a war grave, taking anything from the wreck would certainly fit the legal definition of grave robbing. Since even diving on the wreck without special permission from the U.S. Park Service is illegal...and doing so covertly would be extremely difficult...I can't say as I'm really worried about it.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Ok, so the USS Arizona is legally defined as a gravesite. Just because the Empress is NOT officially legally defined as such, does that make it less of a gravesite? Is the Empress any less worthy of being designated a legal gravesite (and therefore not open to salvage)? They're both sunken ships with dead people on 'em.

I pose these questions in the spirit of open debate, not for impassioned attack.
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May 27, 2007
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Is the Empress any less worthy of being designated a legal grave site (and therefore not open to salvage)? They're both sunken ships with dead people on 'em.

Jason, I agree.

The Empress should be declared a grave in my opinion. It also gives me the creeps that the wreck is dived with bones on it. There I said it. I fear someday that it might go the way of the Persia. Anybody who's read the (Persia - like the Titanic... only different) Thread that Phil Hind started, knows my feeling on what happened to that wreck.

All we need is some yahoo saying there are jewels in the Empress and before you know it somebody up and cuts the ship to shreds looking for jewels that aren't even there.
 
Jan 15, 2008
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I agree with you on that! Although i don't see anything wrong with bringing up some dishes, the idea of bringing up jewels of people who where killed in the disaster IS grave robbery!!

On a side note; everybody knows that jewels are left in the wreck of Titanic. How come nobody has tried to get their eager little hands on it? Is it because the wreck lies so deep?
 
May 27, 2007
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Good question. Maybe they did grab some jewels and were quiet about it. They got the Persia's Jewels and made a special out of it that I think should of been called The Rape Of The Persia. That's just my humble opinion though. The thing with them going down and getting plates is that you might get a greedy diver or what have you who could also be grabbing other things as well. There's not any cops down there to stop them.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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All we need is some yahoo saying there are jewels in the Empress and before you know it somebody up and cuts the ship to shreds looking for jewels that aren't even there.
Very much like what happened to the SS Islander off the coast of Alaska. The Islander was a smaller steamship, run by the Canadian Pacific Steam Navigation Company, that sank in slightly over 300 feet of ice-cold water after hitting an iceberg in 1901. A loss of 40 lives. Gold was rumored to be aboard. As soon as the technology was available in the 1930's, the wreck was torn up and part of the ship was beached. Another larger salvage attempt was started in 1993 but the legalities got messy really fast. No gold was ever found, and part of the wreck still sits on the beach rotting away.
 

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