The expedition was organized by RMS Titanic Inc. (RMST) is a Georgia-based organization. This company has the right to save the Titanic.
“The wreck of the Titanic is a monument”
The RMST has several times organized exhibits of artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic, from silverware to fragments of the ship’s hull.
According to the report the RMST submitted to the court in June, their expedition to the Titanic wreck is expected to be scheduled for May 2024.
However, American officials objected. According to the Associated Press, they cite federal law and an international agreement with the United Kingdom that says the wreck of the Titanic is a sacred grave and a memorial to the more than 1,500 people who died there.
This famous ship sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912 during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York, US. There were 2,208 passengers and crew on board the plane at that time.
US officials argue that entering the Titanic’s mown hull – or physically altering or disturbing the wreck – is regulated by federal law and the country’s agreement with Britain.
One of the concerns of officials is the possibility of tampering with the artifacts and any human remains that may still exist.
“The RMST is not entitled to disregard this duly promulgated federal law,” US lawyers argued in documents filed in the court in Norfolk, Virginia – which oversaw the Titanic’s recovery.
The legal battle comes more than two months after the Titan submersible exploded near the wreck of the Titanic, killing five people. However, this development has no connection with the recent tragedy.
Video simulating the explosion of the Titan submersible by Ateli Channel
Lawsuits won’t stop RMST?
For its part, the RMST company said it plans to photograph the entire Titanic wreck using a remotely controlled vehicle through the ship’s hull without interfering with the existing structure.
According to the RMST, they will recover artifacts from the scene and “may also recover free-standing objects within the debris.” They “may include objects inside the Marconi telegraph room, but only if those objects are not associated with debris.”
The ship’s radio room housed a Marconi wireless telegraph – which sent a distress signal on the day the Titanic hit the iceberg. Morse code messages were received by other ships and shore receiving stations, helping to save the lives of approximately 700 people in lifeboats.
“At this time, the company does not intend to cut or separate any part of the debris,” RMST said.
The company also said it would “cooperate” with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but had no intention of applying for a permit.
U.S. government lawyers said the company could not proceed with the operation and rescue without approval from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who oversees NOAA.
The company has not yet filed its reply in the court. But in previous cases, this company also won a lawsuit when the US government wanted to revoke the right to salvage the Titanic in international waters, which was licensed to the company and recognized by the court.
The Norfolk Court in Virginia, which specializes in shipwreck salvage cases, granted the RMST exclusive rights to salvage the Titanic in 1994. The company has since recovered many artefacts from the ship and held several public exhibitions.
Therefore, the RMST argued that only the Norfolk court had jurisdiction.
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