Will those who perished on the sea

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Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
Eric Paddon said;>>As for my dismissal of the gravesite, I am aware that some bodies ultimately went down, but I think too often the stress on this term has led people to get the wrong impression that all 1500 victims of Titanic went down to the bottom in the ship and that's the misperception that I feel needs to be cleared up.<<

Eric, I really don't see what difference it makes as to how many actually went down with the ship or where they landed. Be it one, a hundred or a hundred thousand, this is beyond question their grave. We need to be mindful of that reality, not dismissive.

"The vastness of the site with such a limited number of people who would have ended up there in my mind means there is ample room for recovery of objects without intruding on those locations that have become a final resting place for those who did end up on the bottom."

And you would know this...how? We can't know where every single body landed and save for the ones that still actually had leather shoes on to give mute testimony to where they landed, all traces have been wiped out.

And what of inside the wreck? While it's unlikely that any such remain, it's not something anybody can rule out 100%

As far as I'm concerned, the question is not whether Titanic and the debris feild became one very large graveyard. That much is a given whether anyone likes it or not. The question is whether or not salvage and conservation is justified.

Me;"Even if they wanted to claim salvage rights, by my understanding of the law, they couldn't."

Eric Paddon; That was not the excuse offered by Ballard in his 1985 and 1986 television appearances from the site when he was asked why he didn't recover anything.

Which is germane to the actual legal realities at the time...how? Ballards take or mis-take is not the question. The question is what was the law on the matter?
Jun 10, 1999
Mr. Taylor:

However, I have heard such allegations of RMSTI proposed plan to cut into the TITANIC's hull. Would'nt you agree it's just heresay? Beside does such a technology exist to endeavor such a feat? I had asked this question before in the past, yet it still remains unanswered.

You will recall ("TITANIC ADVENTURE", J. Carter)
that it was no easy task, just to reveal the faint 18" portside bow letters. It was a culmination of those 2 1/2 hr. descent/ascent dives.

Also you may recall, the raising of the fragmented 17 ton stern plating was aslo a result of 3 yrs. of planning by IFREMER'S technical wizard Pierre Valdy.

So how would you cut into TITANIC's plating, with a deep-sea submersible, or maybe two (MIRS) who's operating zone is so limited? Remember, only TWO manipulator arms at work, most of the time one is securing the sub under constant swift current.

The other nimble manipulator arm, grasping what type of cutting device? I am so curious..

Michael A. Cundiff
Jun 10, 1999
Yes,and what of Dr. Ballard's original proposal to save those precious items from the debris field, yet do not disturb the ship itself.

Are those who came to final rest (Ex. side by side pair of shoes) in the debris field worthy of such less repect?.

Afterall, was it not DR. BALLARD whom originaly amended this (SEE: Legacy Greatest Ocean Liner & Haton & Eaas latest work).

However TITANIC went unchristened...perhaps in forethought it would have went like this..."I hereby name this coffin, R.M.S. TITANIC".

No sarcasm is intended, just read the article on the HUNLEY raising, and *note* the archaeologists reference to "coffin". So to the effect, are they not admitting to, what was it YURI..."Larceny". Oh yes but indeed they found, not *chicken bones*, but friggin HUMAN BONES!!

If it is not black or white, and you people don't have GREY in your Crayola box...then what the h__l is it???

Michael A. Cundiff

Eric Paddon

Jun 4, 2002
"No, it's not - it was very pertinent to some of the key issues here regarding archeology."

The issue of shipwrecks and their value to history is where so much of the chronological snobbery begins, especially when Ballard insists the Isis is worthy of digging through and removing objects, but not Titanic, and his rationale was rooted completely in the chronological snobbery argument. To me, this debate is about shipwrecks not gravesites and should be thusly confined to it. A shipwreck is something associated with an event and moment of history, an ordinary gravesite is not.

"do you see any difference between excavating a tomb and excavating a modern graveyard?"

The question is based on a wrong premise as to how the pro-salvor side with regard to Titanic and other historic shipwrecks frames his argument. The tombs of Pharaoh are historically significant and merit study for their value to history. So is the Titanic. But the average burial ground in Egypt from ancient times where there are no artifacts and only bones, tells me very little from my standpoint and I wouldn't waste my time digging up an ancient burial ground were there are no artifacts to be found anymore than I would waste my time digging up a modern cemetery where there is nothing of significance to serve history. So my consistency is rooted on bringing up artifacts from sites both ancient and modern that serve a purpose for history and have nothing to do with studying human remains.

"She's a wreck of recent date that went down off the Egyptian coast while carrying many hundreds."

Based on that criteria, I see no value to history as I would not characterize that particular event as significant anymore than a capsized car ferry in the Phillipines that killed hundreds (or some other kind of accident that I have a vague recollection of happening). That event has no lasting repercussions for history from my standpoint so there is no purpose served wasting money on any expedition. My criteria ultimately for artifact preservation is based on the ship's value to history. Titanic fills it, Lusitania fills it (but there's not much left to get from there), to a lesser degree Andrea Doria. The Yorktown and other ships from the Battle of Midway for at least one artifact, yes. Something that serves no broader purpose for history like Roberto Clemente's private plane, no. I apply my standards based on what the wreck's importance to history is, and then there is an evaluation of whether the nature of the site justifies minimal recovery or larger scale recovery.

"Can you give a date for when it would be acceptable"

I wouldn't set a date for it at all, because that event doesn't strike me as being on the same plane of importance to history as Titanic is.

"frankly, I don't know if they did or did not ever express an opinion one way or the other)."

There was nothing to stop them from denouncing Peter Gimbel, whose reputation stemmed from 25 years worth of Andrea Doria dives, which included cutting into the ship to retrieve a safe and opening it on live TV. Their silence in the case of a wreck where there were people entombed inside forever where far more damage was done to the wreck by salvage than anything done by RMSTI is anything but golden from my standpoint.

"I would have responded in the same way had the ship been any other of recent date - the Andrea Doria"

In the case of the Andrea Doria, you would have been the first person I know of to raise an objection, and to me this is critical because the recovery efforts through the years on the Doria have not been done in a media vaccuum of no coverage. The live broadcast of the safe opening attracted a very high TV rating.

"And there are many objects from the Titanic - either recovered in the immediate aftermath, or retrieved by survivors, that fulfill the same 'duty'"

I would hardly classify what existed prior to 1987 as "many". A few pieces of floating wood picked up by the Minia is hardly my definition of many. And I maintain that there is no fundamental difference between picking up a piece of wood floating on the surface in 1912 and a piece from the ocean floor, especially since no human remains never needed to be disturbed. To recover more from the Arizona, you would have to go into areas of the ship where 1500 bodies still are, and there's no point in doing that. Such is not the case with Titanic and never has been. Titanic didn't need to be "opened up" for these objects to be recovered anymore than it needed to be for the Minia to pick up the pieces of wood in 1912.

"What one sees is simply that part of the structure visible from the surface."

And the oil floating up. Actually the original design for the memorial which would have called for people going down to see it through a transparent structure without touching it would likely have been better than the final result. But it is still visible even in the present form and it's not the same as diving to the Titanic, which is something only the elite few can do.

"In order to equate the experience to the Titanic salvage objects, one would need to - well - salvage objects. In the same numbers as those retrieved from the Titanic."

What you've done in this instance is twist the whole point around. The reason why artifact recovery for the Titanic is a necessity is because the Arizona option is not viable given that one shipwreck lies in the harbor and can be seen by people who go to the site, but Titanic can not be. If Titanic lay in shallow waters where you could put a platform above, or which the general public could see just as part of the normal musuem going experience like they can with Arizona, then you wouldn't have to recover so many artifacts in the first place from Titanic. But Titanic alas, lies in 12,000 feet of water and that means that what can be seen can only be seen by an elite few, so in that situation, the recovery procedure becomes the only viable option for the people to be able to see Titanic with their own eyes. People can see the Arizona up close, so you don't need to recover anything beyond what was already done for practical necessity purposes and then subsequently and rightly put in the museums.

"I wasn't 'partially inferring' anything - I was very specifically referring to those individuals I had personally encountered."

But you have not talked to every survivor or survivor family that ever expressed an opinion, especially those who did express a pro-salvage opinion, so to focus only on that group is skewering things considerably.

"I have not 'systematically ignored' anyone"

I'm afraid I still get the impression that what Louise Pope for instance thought doesn't strike you as important because you didn't talk to her. To me, the importance of what multiple survivors had to say is proof of how even for those most directly affected by this tragedy is not clear cut, and ultimately when I see the capacity for divided opinion to exist, no matter what the final numbers may be, that to me shows that the case for artifact preservation must be made from other considerations.

"I have made not allegations about what survivor sentiment was across the board"

Perhaps not you specifically, but anti-salvor thought in general, including Ballard, THS and the book authors I have in mind, has made such an allegation and that has included rendering people like Louise Pope as non-persons in the debate. My point of view is to acknowledge how it cuts across survivor opinion both ways, and when we are left with the fact that survivors can not wholly agree on it, then the need for compromise from the start was needed more than ever.

"I think they do have a place -a very important place - in this discussion."

But it seems though that ultimately for you the numbers game do matter if you can show that a majority by the imperfect standards of conducting a survey, could carry the day overall.

"In light of that, I don't think it's evasive at all for me to note that the views of the families I've interviewed have been, with one exception, anti-salvage"

"I hope to change that soon."

Well, what I find interesting though is, is the purpose of trumpeting this information designed to make all current exhibitions of the artifacts look bad and to generate bad publicity for them? Because if that is part of the underlying purpose at work, then I am afraid we're back to some of the matters that have me so leery of anti-salvor thought in general.

"The fact it's not true should be a good reason to 'feel otherwise'."

I'm sorry, but you have not proved to me that these people are regarded by anti-salvor thought in general as the unimportant fringe, and given that the man who found the Titanic and the leading American Titanic organization and several published authors are among this group I refer to, I find it more than a little hard to swallow the idea that anti-salvor thought in general has chosen to margninalize them because of their record of misdeeds. In this discussion you have proved to me that you are not like those people I think of in terms of your ability to have a reasonably civil discussion and healthy debate on the matter. But until I see a vocal group of anti-salvor thought openly repudiate the prominent people I have in mind, I have to stand by my earlier remarks.

"Robert Ballard is not my representative, nor is he any sort of designated spokesperson for the anti-salvage front (however the media might wish to portray him)."

Yet everytime I read an anti-salvor tract or was wrapped up in an argument with an anti-salvor in the past, you wouldn't believe how touchy and hyper they became whenever Robert Ballard's actions were called into question. Your saying that he is not at the forefront of anti-salvage thinking in general flies in the face of what I've encountered in the past to a large degree, and I need to see more people than just you indicate otherwise for me to be convinced that such is the case.

"It depends on how you define 'tyrannical'."

My definition of tyrranical is engaging in conduct that attempts to hinder my ability to enjoy an existing exhibition of Titanic artifacts through disreputable means of trying to demonize such exhibitions, and hoping that bad publicity will bring an end to them, and result ultimately in the destruction of these precious legacies of history.

"By salvaging the items, you have imposed your standards on myself"

No I haven't because you are not compelled to attend these exhibitions if you have a problem with them, anymore than I don't have to go see an art exhibition that displays pornographic art. But if the institution that displays pornographic art has done so without resorting to my tax dollars for the purpose of display, then they have not imposed a standard upon me, so my only recourse in terms of standing up for principle is not indulge them and let only those who do get a kick out of it indulge in it. Nothing has been imposed on anyone through the act of artifact recovery (and God knows that I think an exhibition of Titanic artifacts serves a far greater purpose to humanity than Robert Mapplethorpe's pornographic art ever will, to name one example)

"Objects retrieved at the time, objects saved by survivors, letters etc."

Very little of which went through the experience of being part of the sinking of the ship and which don't reasonate ultimately to the same degree as the objects recovered from the ocean floor do in illustrating the full measure of the tragedy to visitors. What existed prior to 1985 was about the most woefully incomplete record imaginable, and far from satisfying.

"You were making assertions about the need for examples of 20th Century shipping history, of which copious quantities exist."

For which is a secondary consideration the artifacts carry ultimately, and I do not believe that we have done a good job of preserving artifacts associated with that era in contrast to the overkill that's been done with sailing ships and ancient wrecks. That isn't the primary reason though why I favor the recovery its just a matter of icing on the cake in this instance.

"You distorted the intent of my line by taking out only the reference to ebay auctions and discarding the reference to museum collections."

"As for the intangible, magic Titanic association - there are already many, many items"

What you define as "many" I define as woefully incomplete and inadequate, especially when so many remain out of view to the public eye if they are owned by private collectors, and does anyone really think that the old furnishings of the Olympic, situated in largely inaccessible locations to the general public in English hotels, can offer the same that a museum exhibition for all can provide? Not me. And one thing about the beauty of a large inventory of artifacts is how different parts of the world have been able to see these pieces of Titanic. The fact that these came from the wreck site instead of the surface shouldn't even make a difference.

"Actually a throwaway line, which is why it was in parenthesis, made in reference to your assertion that I was trying to turn objects connected with early 20th Century shipping and culture into the domain of the elite."

I made no such assertion. I said the focus on Titanic was to make it accessible to the elite only, and that on top of that it seems that those who engage in the chronological snobbery argument about a wreck like Titanic not meriting recovery because of its age, reflect a mindset that has led to an appalling lack of preservation with regard to ships and objects preserved associated with recent history in contrast to the overkill with sailings ships and ancient wrecks. I love the South Street Seaport in New York as much as the next person, but the ratio of such museums devoted to sailing ships in contrast to those that focus on passenger liners of the 20th century is skewered heavily toward the former and that is a simple fact of life.

"I have most certainly not, and never have, ever implied that RMSTI is the first exhibition to charge admission."

Then why the strange fixation of calling attention to the fact that one must pay to get in?

"We're seeing some of these looming quite large now, with the future of the collection in doubt."

And how much less doubt about the future of the collection there might have been, I wonder, had the effort at compromise been made from the start instead of the acrimony that like it or not, started with Robert Ballard and his actions. RMSTI's troubles are serious, and they are ultimately responsible for their own actions if their mismanagement causes them to go under, but how much better it might have been if there'd been a cooperative effort from all sides from the start, and it might not have had to come to this.

"But there is no 'objective example of precedence', as there has been no consistent, uniform treatment of historic shipwrecks"

There is one consistency, and that is the fact that artifacts have as a matter of course, been recovered in accordance with the legal precedents established under a century of maritime salvage law. Titanic deserved to be treated under that criteria only and not as a special case where the normal laws of international salvage were to be cast aside just for this one ship.

"I can only say that I'm sorry you've had this experience with the anti-salvage lobby, because it's quite alien to my own experiences."

I will not name names in this forum beyond Robert Ballard, but if I were to name them privately I will find it interesting to know what your awareness of them is. I for one will be very surprised if you're not familiar with the two names I most have in mind.

"Simply because you've 'never heard of them' doesn't mean that they lack historical significance."

They certainly did not result in the kind of global reaction the Titanic did, which impacted ultimately in the US government prompting a Senate inquiry and massive changes to maritime laws, or something like the Challenger space shuttle disaster.

"The Salem Express was one of the worst shipping disasters of modern times (I'm amazed you're not acquainted with it — I suspect that if I were to post the details you'd probably remember it)."

That wouldn't help. I never forget names if I'm familiar with the story and that's one I'm not familiar with at all. Nor the Yongala either.

"In terms of Australian shipping history she is tremendously important. Your criteria of 'importance to history' is nebulous - how do you propose to define how and what wrecks it applies to?"

It won't be my individual judgment that determines it, it will be because of whether or not a broader consensus exists on the historical value, and in the case of Titanic that broader consensus has always been out there. If I were but one voice advocating salvage and no one else expressed the same POV because they didn't give a damn, then I'd have to start getting the message that maybe Titanic doesn't reasonate as much in the broader consensus.

"And why should some wrecks be afforded protection and others left open to salvage because of this designation?"

Because if a shipwreck lies in international waters and has been declared a total loss by her original owners and the insurance companies have paid out all claims arising from the loss, then I am absolutely and adamantly opposed to the idea of the United States government wasting my tax dollars for the purpose of passing legislation of dubious Constitutional origins to enforce such policing of wrecksites.

"That doesn't make him 'historically seminal' - it makes him 'culturally significant'."

I don't see a conflict in the terms actually. Something can be historically seminal just for being culturally significant.

"Really? Not in my experience. I've found my views fairly much the norm among the many I've met who share them."

All I can say is, not in the past forums I've belonged to, and believe me I've been involved in a fair share of them.

"I am assuming that a salvage company has not been given permission to retrieve items from the debris?"

It's a case of museums being given carte blance to choose what they want among those items not being studied for purposes of official investigations. The New York museums have recived first priority and then anyone else can take part in it. And survivor sentiment has been overwhelmingly supportive of this (personal objects of course that are traced to someone specific are returned to the families). But again, I believe this would have been important to do no matter what the numbers would have indicated on survivor sentiment. (Survivor sentiment IMO should not for instance dictate turning the entire WTC site into a memorial where nothing gets rebuilt)

"What's wrong with a lifejacket from a survivor, or a postcard mailed by a young man who would never see Southampton again?"

It is such a limited quantity tucked away in isolated spots in the world, and when there is a large pool of artifacts available to maximize the potential for me to see in more convenient locations, as Atlantic City and Chicago exhibitions turned out to be, then I say, recover them now before they are lost. Those items you mentioned are special, but no more special than the objects I have seen with my eyes (which have the added benefit of telling me a story that brings to life the sinking itself and the effects of decades of immersion, yet proving the marvels of what historic preservation can do by making them able to last for generations. What value to the science of historic preservation we find when newspaper from the bottom of the sea can be restored to readability after all these decades!)

"I think they would. A privately funded exhibition with an underlying responsibility to return profits to investors would not go down overly well with the holocaust survivors I knew."

If the argument was then presented to them, that no one else was willing to preserve the legacy of what they went through and the tangible realities of what took place were in danger of being lost, that might lead to a difference in terms of what was more important in the end.

"No - the poisonous acrimony is the fault of bigots on both sides, and it will remain as long as they do."

I'm sorry, but the historical record shows who cast the first stone in this argument, and it wasn't the pro-salvage side. That isn't a subjective argument I'm making that has to do with the factual record, and we don't do the factual record any favors by suggesting this sprung up on the part of actions on both sides at the exact same instant.

"Woods Hole could not have anticipated what as going to happen, nor was it any way their ‘duty’ to take on the onerous responsibility."

Actually, in Pellegrino's first book, we discover that a good many people on Ballard's '86 team understood perfectly well what was going to happen, and these people interviewed by Pellegrino felt that Ballard was making a major mistake in terms of blowing a chance that could have benefited Woods Hole tremendously .

"No less troubling than I find the removal of the objects in the first place."

But you believe that in a perfect world, destructive behavior, including the vandalism of preserved artifacts would be just fine, and there is an enormous difference.

"However, you seem to still be labouring under the impression that Ballard is in some way the official spokesperson of the salvage movement. He’s not."

I need to see a lot more from more people to be convinced of that, that in fact he is now regarded with less than the status of deification that characterized just about every one I came across in past forums in terms of how they viewed him. And to Ballard, I then have to add the other people I have in mind who I won't name here because they're not simply internet regulars.

"I have no compunctions at all about declaring my beliefs, and will not be gagged by accusations that in doing so I am maintaining a 'poisoned atmosphere'."

No one is suggesting you be gagged, and I've never advocated that. I merely argue that the particular principle being advocated by anti-salvor thought is not productive to the broader scheme of the reality that exists today and what should be done about it. And if the anti-salvor agenda still includes trying to make the current exhibitions look bad for the mere fact that they have artifacts, and that somehow they have been morally insensitive in recovering artifacts, then I do regard that as stigmatizing them unfairly, and then it becomes demonization if the tactics employed by Ballard et. al. are still used freely to achieve that end. In your case, I will not include you in the latter category which is the one that involves deliberate and willful misconduct. The worst I could ever accuse you of doing is being unfair to the exhibitions in your characterizations of what they do and have accomplished but there is no moral or personal judgment of you as an individual involved in that.

"you have chosen very inflammatory language, accusing me of demonizing, purposefully sabotaging, and maintaining a poisoned atmosphere."

I have used forceful rhetoric against your position, which I am totally opposed to, but I have made no personal accusations against you, nor have I made any judgments of you as an individual. I think you should not confuse forceful advocacy of a POV with being an attack on the person.

"You accuse me of 'forever trying to cast aspersions on the motives of those behind these exhibitions and the people who support them'"

I believe your position does that. That doesn't mean I say that you are a bad person, I merely say that you do these people behind the exhibitions and those who support them a disservice. I have gone out of my way to not lump you in the category of those who I feel have engaged in willful and deliberately malicious actions, but neither am I convinced that the moderation you've displayed is emblematic of the broader picture of anti-salvage thought, and even if it were, it would still leave me with a POV that tries to unfairly stigmitize the exhibitions to no meaningful, constructive end.

"I repeat - you want to silence those whose views differ from your own, including mine, because you object to our views on salvage."

Nonsense. I merely want the debate to stop focusing on matters that were resolved in 1987 for all time because they are not relevant any longer, and I believe that we are doing nothing but looking for things to keep arguing about if the debate remains wrapped up in the pointless question, "Is salvage valid?" Salvage has happened, so let's turn our attention to what must be done now that all sides can agree on.

"'Arguing' isn't a one-sided affair. It takes two to tango."

What you don't seem to realize is that I think the arguing should *stop*. When we talk about artifacts, we should be working toward a common goal, and not hashing out these matters that were decided long ago. The only reason why I feel the arguing goes on is because the anti-salvage side is still trying to fight over the outcome of an election that was decided years ago, and there can't be anymore recounts.

"your own utter intractability and decision to demonise people like myself"

That is an unfair characterization in light of the fact that more than once I have gone out of my way to compliment and praise you for your moderate tone, and for your willingness to debate this issue in a reasonably civil fashion with me. As an individual, I feel I should treat you with respect and courtesy because you have demonstrated enough about being a reasonable individual, but that does not make your arguments any less troubling to me, and I do believe that those core arguments have made possible that element that has engaged in the true demonization in this debate.

"Many of these wrecks lie in British waters - how the legislation works in International waters I'd have to examine."

It would have no legal standing in any American court, and it is American courts that have been given by gentleman's agreement, jurisdiction for all matters pertaining to salvage from shipwrecks in international waters in the Atlantic. That is why it was American courts that settled all matters pertaining to losses from Titanic, Lusitania and Andrea Doria, just to name three, and why it was American courts that ultimately awarded salvage rights to RMSTI. Therefore, any effort by the United States Congress to pass laws that interfered with the right of salvors to engage in actions on ships in international waters that have been allowed by past legal precdence, would automatically be rendered un-Constitutional by our courts.

"I think you'd find very emphatic disagreement from most British taxpayers - myself included
- if you were to object to the use of our money to protect British wargraves, be they the HMS Donegal or Changi Cemetery."

Actually, I can't object to anything the British government or British taxpayer does over wrecks the British government has clear legal jurisdiction for. What I can object to is what the American Congress does regarding wrecks in international waters, and what the American taxpayer would be expected to foot the bill for, which in this case would be for a purpose that would ultimately be un-Constitutional. The American government has no right to place limits on its citizens as to what they can or can not do with regard to a lost wreck in international waters. That might be ethically wrong from your standpoint but it happens to be in keeping with the principles of the United States Constitution, which was written for the purpose of establishing definable limits as to the power of the central authority over the citizen, and stopping him from salvaging shipwrecks is not a power our Federal Government is entitled to.

"I don't see any other feasible solution than something along these lines, as I don't think the single purpose built Museum is likely to come to fruition."

If we were to let this matter dominate our conversations more rather than the propriety of salvage, I believe a lot more could get done.

"Unfortunately I think there's more than two factions to this — rather than bi-factional, it’s multi-fractional."

But this can change if we made it our primary focus of discussion and we could then see this narrow towards areas of consensus and compromise. This unfortunately has not been the focus and I think its the lack of effort aimed at getting compromise that is ultimately responsible for allowing multi-fractions as you call them to exist.

"Actually, you have, by claiming that the entire responsibility for the rancour in this debate rests on one side — those who disagree with you."

I would not use the term "entire" I would say the primary responsibility, which simply is calling attention to the root cause of why this came to be. My side is not comprised of perfect angels and people free from sin. But as to why bitterness and rancor erupted, there is ultimately a root cause and I'm afraid the factual record does point in only one direction to that.

"But you have attacked with judgments of your own, accusing me of would-be vandalism, and of poisoning the debate."

You've said ideally you would like to see the artifacts returned to the sea, and even if it is only a dream, it leaves me wondering how many people there are out there who would literally want to try and achieve their vision of doing something like that. You might not act on that being a moderate and a realist ultimately, but I can't be completely certain that others would not try to achieve such an end, perhaps by doing what they can to insure that these exhibitions become stigmitized if they can generate bad PR to attach to them.

"As long as some of the ship remains where it fell in 1912, there will be people who wish to leave it and its objects there."

That isn't the primary area we should be talking about. The area we should all be focused on is the fate of what has been recovered and saying this is a war for what's left is a total misapplication of energies and only serves ultimately to keeping the air of bad feeling alive. It's time to focus on areas of consensus and agreement instead because I will wager that most of us on my side are more interested in the fate of what's been recovered then what hasn't. That certainly is how I feel about things.

"As stated above, I’m willing to help address the current alarming situation (not that I imagine for one moment that my assistance would be called upon!), but that doesn’t mean condoning salvage or condoning any future salvage efforts, which I will continue to oppose."

Future salvage efforts are less of a reality today then the important goals we should be working together on, and if that can be the prime area of discussion, we can get to this end sooner and save any future battles over what to do with what's left on the ocean floor for another time. It's already clear that RMSTI is never going to afford the cost of another expedition again so we're years away from having to confront that matter.

"If you can't - as I have done - move past that and focus on the future,"

This is not about seeing apologies made to Eric Paddon, which I would never hold my breath waiting for. It is for seeing the record set straight with regard to the more serious matters of deception and dishonesty that were used to demonize the salvage expeditions, chief among which was Ballard's "crows nest destruction" accusation which continues to live on in new editions of his book. For matters like that, anti-salvage thought in general has to speak a lot more loudly in disassociating themselves from that than they ever have been if they want to show good faith in coming to terms with pro-salvors in areas of potential ground. It is not enough for a few well-meaning individuals to say that Robert Ballard doesn't speak for them.

"Here’s hoping. We’re certainly circling each other rather warily if not with outright suspicion, but it’s a start."

The rest of your paragraph that I snipped perhaps says it best about how we've gone about this and how it's important to just keep talking without giving in to our worst instincts. We've perhaps slipped a bit here and there, but by and large I think we can both look back on this thread feeling we've done more good than bad.

Erik Wood

Aug 24, 2000
Let's all keep things in the cool and calm shall we. I wouldn't want to have to bring out my hammer.

This is a very interesting and lively debate. Let's keep it a nice and interesting, lively debate.


Inger Sheil

Feb 9, 1999
This time, just for Shelley, I really am editing down my response
(A few things outside in that intrusive, non-Titanic world have needed attending to as well).

I think we've argued many of the points in this debate to an impasse, Eric - there are points of ethics, ideology and methodology that we're not going to agree on, nor are we perceiving certain individuals and situations in the same way. I wouldn't mind going into some of these points a bit further, particularly some of the questions of historiography and archeological methodology, and will do so if time permits this week (and if the journey halfway around the world on Thursday doesn't eventuate as it is threatening to do at the moment).

As I read the situation at the moment, a compromise in principle can be reached on the items currently salvaged from the wreck - much as I wish they were not here they are, and that is a practical issue that has to be addressed outside of what I ideally wish the situation was (i.e. that they had never been removed). Consensus across the board seems overwhelmingly to reject the sale and dispersal of these objects into private collections. As to the retrieval of further items from the wreck, I understand that you are largely indifferent to this (others on the pro-sal side are not, and I will of course continue to oppose their efforts). As to individuals like Ballard and Geller, I imagine that the controversy will continue...!

We might have covered a fair bit of ground more or less constructively...now it's just a matter of convincing more to do likewise. I stress, as one final personal note, that the opinions expressed in this thread on salvage reflect my views on this particular issue, not on individuals (many of whom I know to be sterling men and women whose character, skills and intelligence I highly appreciate).

Mark Taylor

Feb 20, 2001
Mike Cundiff wrote thus " However, I have heard such allegations of RMSTI proposed plan to cut into the TITANIC's hull. Would'nt you agree it's just heresay? Beside does such a technology exist to endeavor such a feat? I had asked this question before in the past, yet it still remains unanswered. "

As I recall Joe Marsh (one of the investors with SFX who helped engineer Tulloch's ouster) made comments that appeared that was to be the case. Further as I recall either Geller or Joslyn made statements about going into the hull. There was also some comment made that one of the purposes of cutting into the hull was to retrieve diamonds ( I believe that was made in an SEC filing).

Marsh did later claim he was misquoted in a subsequent statement.

As to whether or not RMSTI really intended to break into the hull and retrieve artifacts, it was widely reported (whether accurate or not) that was the intention of the company. I will have to look back over my notes and news articles to see exactly what was said. I think the truth is that at some point they would want to cut into the hull, the question was cost and material and the equipment on the expedition in question probably was not there to do it.

However Judge Clarke was certainly alarmed. Aside from the letters he got, I am certain that he was shown various news articles and internet postings. And based on that he issued his unusual order. That order has caused a domino effect and in many ways brought us to the point of time where the company likely (if not actually) will be filing for bankruptcy. Then what happens to the artifacts will be anyone's guess at that point.

Mark Taylor
Jan 7, 2002
When I was working at the Dallas Titanic exhibit in 2000, the plan at that time was to remove an anchor and cut into the hull. I was told personally those plans over and over at nausium. Luckily such never transpired.I quit after Dallas in protest of Gellar's shananagans...

Here is somthing of interest- The eventual 911 museum that will honor the memory of those murdered in the cowardly act of terrorism in NYC will have on display an crushed firetruck, battered remanantss from the upper floors, such as a scorched elevator button panel, etc. Such things should be on display so future genertions can experince a tangible link with that tragedy.

The Holocoust museum has piles of shoes and other affetcs worn by people who were murdered by the nazis.

And the both torn and intact artfacts from Titanic need to be recovered and exhibitied. The notion we should ignore the wreck is moot- artifacts are up already. My only concern is that they should always be in a museum forum.

Tarn Stephanos

Simon Donoghue

I'm not sure I agree with the analogy between Titanic and the 9/11 disaster (and I just realized I am posting one year later to the day . . .) or the Holocaust. Both of these events were caused by malicious intention, and both demonstrate the evil of which men are capable. The shoes and crushed fire trucks are emblematic of suffering inflicted by men upon their fellows. The Titanic was an accident. I'm not sure how I feel about salvage --- well, I am sure, I suppose, since I wouldn't turn down an opportunity to touch an artifact --- but I am sure that comparisons with museums displaying warning of what we are capable of as a species are not useful
Jul 9, 2002
Anyone who is interested in Titanic will have their own opinion on salvage. I personally am Pro-Sal and agree with the posts above that talk about touching or actually seeing something from the ship with your own eyes. If you haven't and you are a Titanic buff, then you are truely missing a lifetime experience. But I digress. This is an argument that can never be won and all it stands to do is drive a wedge between all of us who may otherwise learn a great deal about the ship, her passengers and crew from one another. In the same breath though I must ask this question. To ANYONE who is anti-sal, what do you think about going to a museum and seeing Mummies and things from ancient Egypt? As Tarn mentioned, been to the Holocaust Museum? Seen the shoes he is talking about? I have. Ever been to Dachau or Awschwitz-Birkinau? I have. I have seen the Gas Chambers and Crematoriums. Been to Pearl Harbor? I have and I have seen the oil bubbling up from Arizona. "But wait!" you cry, the guys on Arizona are still there and are not messed with. That is correct, because that is where the military and others have said is the grave. Is Titanic a grave? Damned right it is and anyone who thinks it's not is silly. HOWEVER....The Pyramids are graves, Dachau is a grave, Ground Zero in New York is a grave, even ground zero in Hiroshima is a grave. But you know what? ALL of those places have pieces of their respective tragedies. Those pieces, from the Dome in Hiroshima to the gaping hole in NYC, TO THE "BIG PIECE" OF TITANIC are Physical representations of said tragedies. Why don't I hear any of you anti-sal people running to the cause of putting the pharaoh's back in their tombs? (A very real cause by the way) Is it because grave-robbing is only grave-robbing to you if it involves something YOU have feelings about? I think thats what it is. Long and short, Salvaging items from TITANIC does WONDERS in our understanding of MANY things. Edwardian Life, Ship Construction, how and why the TITANIC sank, Oceanography, Biology, Micro-Biology, the list goes on and on. There are no bodies there. If there were, they would be left alone. In saying that, no one should have a problem with people going down and recovering things for this and every future generation to see. Trust me, if you are a TRUE Titanic Buff, standing 5 feet from the big Piece is awe inspiring and worth it. And if you still want to complain, start jumping on the other "anti" bandwaggons too. Cheers!
Jun 10, 1999
On a related note...the most recent release of Military History periodical features a one-page article w/photo of the mini-submarine.

Chalk one up for the other team. This *prize* even aluded Dr. Ballard!

Michael Cundiff

Tom Pappas

I think this whole disparity between apples and oranges is overblown. After all, they are both roughly spherical, both the seed fruit of their respective plant species, and both squeezed for their juice.

Sound almost identical to me
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