This is a strange topic of debate, but it’s one that’s currently playing out in the courts. For the past three decades, people have been sending submersible ROVs down to the wreck of the Titanic and recording amazing footage of the decaying ship’s hull. Some have been able to venture inside the hull to explore some of the interior spaces. These activities are generally considered to be expeditions of a scientific or historical nature, but there have also been artifacts removed from the wreck and brought back to the surface. The company with the current salvage rights is RMS Titanic Inc. and they are currently working on a plan to salvage the Marconi wireless telegraph machine from the ship’s radio room so that it can be displayed in a museum.
That isn’t sitting well with some people who view the wreck as a memorial to the dead. They argue that there may still be human remains inside the vessel that should not be disturbed. That could be true for the radio room. Thus far the courts are siding with the salvage crew, but those decisions are being appealed. (Associated Press)
Lawyers for the U.S. government have raised that question in an ongoing court battle to block the planned expedition. They cite archaeologists who say remains could still be there. And they say the company fails to consider the prospect in its dive plan.
“Fifteen hundred people died in that wreck,” said Paul Johnston, curator of maritime history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “You can’t possibly tell me that some human remains aren’t buried deep somewhere where there are no currents.”
The company, RMS Titanic Inc., wants to exhibit the ship’s Marconi wireless telegraph machine. It broadcast the sinking ocean liner’s distress calls and helped save about 700 people in lifeboats.