It appears plans to retrieve the Marconi wireless radio from Titanic are in jeopardy. Due to Covid-19 closing many of their exhibitions (and only a few open with limited availability), income for Premier Exhibitions has dropped significantly. Premier has already missed a required court deadline about submitting costs for the proposed salvage.
The company, RMS Titanic Inc., said Monday that its revenues plummeted after coronavirus restrictions closed its exhibits of Titanic artifacts, causing the firm to seek funding through its parent company. Some of the exhibitions, which are scattered across the country, are still closed, while others that have reopened are seeing limited attendance. RMS Titanic Inc. recently missed a deadline with a federal admiralty court in Virginia to submit a funding plan for the radio expedition. The company left open the possibility that it may no longer seek the court’s approval for the undertaking if a plan isn’t submitted in the coming weeks.
In the continuing legal challenge to prevent salvage of the Marconi radio from Titanic, government lawyers are arguing that remains may be disturbed and were not considered in the dive plan. RMS Titanic Inc. has responded that human remains inside the wreck have not been in any of the dives thus far. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith approved the salvage in May. The government has appealed the decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal.
Source: Titanic: Concerns About Human Remains Could Block Company From Retrieving Iconic Radio (Boston.com,18 Oct 2020)
The UK Department for Transport says the treaty means the British and US governments have the power to grant or deny licences to enter the ship and remove items, and that unauthorised activity will be punishable by large fines. But RMS Titanic Inc has reportedly argued the new treaty has “no teeth” in US law, and has filed a notice of intent to retrieve items from the ship at the US district court in eastern Virginia. They announced this week that it has developed a special robot to reach in through a deck house roof and extract the Marconi without the need to cut into the wreck. The company has partnered on the project with Guernsey-based deepwater specialists Magellan Limited.
Judith Owens, chief executive of Titanic Belfast said: “We are absolutely delighted to open our doors again. Welcoming visitors, telling stories and creating experiences is what we do best. Now more than ever, we need the support of our city and Northern Ireland, and we’ve been working away behind the scenes to ensure that those who come to visit have a truly memorable Titanic experience. “For us, home is where the heart is and this has never been more apparent. As one of Belfast’s iconic symbols, we are always keen to play our part and reflect the city’s spirit. This is our way of saying thank you to our local heroes for their hard work and bravery.
Remembering History: England Defeats Spanish Armada
On July 29, 1688 naval forces of England and Spain engaged in an 8-hour furious battle off the coast of France that determined the fate of both countries control of the seas. Spain had created the armada to not only gain control of the English Channel but also to land an invasion force in England. England since the early 1580s had been conducting raids against Spanish commerce and had supported Dutch rebels in Spanish Netherlands. The other reason was to restore Catholicism that had been outlawed since the reign of King Henry VIII
The invasion fleet was authorized by King Philip II and was completed in 1587 but delayed by a raid by Sir Francis Drake on the Armada’s supplies. It did not depart until May 19, 1588. The fleet consisted of 130 ships under the command of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. It had 2,500 guns, 8,000 seamen, and 20,000 soldiers. The Spanish ships though were slower than their English counterparts and lighter armed as well despite their guns. Their tactic was to force boarding when their ships were close enough. They believed with the superior numbers of Spanish infantry they could overwhelm the English ships.
The English were commanded by Charles Howard, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham. Like his counterpart, he was an admiral with not much sea experience but proved to be the better leader. His second in command was Sir Francis Drake. The English fleet was at its height 200 ships but in the actual combat was at most 100. Only 40 were warships and the rest smaller but they were armed with heavy artillery that were able to fire at longer ranges without having to get close to the enemy to be effective. The English strategy was to bombard their enemy from a distance and not give them the opportunity to get close and possibly board their ships (which had smaller number of soldiers aboard than the Spanish had).
As the Spanish Armada made its way, it would be harassed by English ships that bombarded them at a distance negating Spanish attempts to board. The Armada anchored near Calais, France on 27 July. The Spanish forces on land were in Flanders and would take time to get down to Calais. However, since there was no safe port and enemy Dutch and English ships patrolled the coastal shallows, it meant those troops had no safe way to get to the Armada.
Around midnight on 29 July, the English sent 8 fire ships into the anchored Spanish fleet. The Spanish were forced to quickly scatter to avoid the fire ships. This meant the Armada formation was now broken making them easier targets for the English to attack. They closed to effective range and attacked. Surprising to the English, the return fire was mostly small arms. It turns out most of the heavy cannons had not been mounted. And those that were did not have properly trained crews on how to reload. Three Spanish ships were sunk or driven ashore. Other ships were battered and moved away. The English also were low on ammunition, so they had to drop back and follow the Spanish fleet.
The Spanish fleet had to flee north and around Scotland and from there head back to Spain. The English fleet turned back for resupply. It was a long road back to Spain for the Armada. Autumn had arrived and gales in the North Atlantic made passage tough. Ships were lost to bad weather, navigational errors, foundered near Ireland, and possibly battle damage as well. Only 60 of the 130 survived with an estimated loss of 15,000 men. The English losses were much smaller with fewer men wounded or killed in battle. It appears most of the deaths that came later were due to disease (possibly scurvy). Damages to the English ships were negligible.
With the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England was made safe from invasion. The Dutch rebels the English backed in Spanish Netherlands were saved as well. Spain up to that point had been considered to be the greatest European power, so it was a major blow to their prestige that would have ramifications down the road for them. Also, it heralded a major change for naval battles. This was the first major naval gun battle where the combatants fought at a distance rather than closing and boarding. Warships that could move quickly and had artillery that fire at long range would become the norm on the seas from that point on. England would now become a major world power. Spain still was in the game for several decades (the English were not successful either in trying their own invasion) and was still a major colonial power. England and Spain formally ended their conflict in 1604. Spain however would eventually go into decline as England and other European powers would successfully expand into Asia and establish their own colonies and trade routes.
(Note: All dates are given are for the Gregorian calendar, which was adopted by England in 1750. At the time of the battle, the Julian calendar was in effect.)
A Baltic craftsman has broken the Guinness World Record for the largest amber sculpture ever made. Tomasz O?dziejewski from the village of Szutowo on the Baltic coast, spent a month building a massive 1.5-metre-long replica of the Titanic ship. Working around the clock to meet the Guinness World Record attempt regulations, O?dziejewski, who has worked with amber for 32 years, spent 12 to 14 hours a day to complete his biggest work of art. Measuring exactly 1.532 meters long and 36.7 tall, the ship which costs a cool EUR 11,000, was made without any additional metal frames or reinforcements.
After lengthy review and expert consultation, the organization has developed a multi-phase, dual ROV, non-evasive method to safely excavate and investigate the Marconi Radio. This new tooling and methodology will allow us to expose the key components in their current resting state and determine if safe extraction and recovery is possible. This unique dual ROV ladder deployment system on the Titan manipulators will allow non-evasive entry to areas of interest without wreck disturbance. Each ROV will be equipped with their respective tooling to first dredge and clean the area for a thorough investigation. Components approved safe for extraction will be gently removed using both ROV’s and collected to salvage baskets for safe recovery to the surface. The organization has also released additional imagery of the custom deep-sea tools that will be used to recover the Marconi.
And before the facility shut on March 18 as the pandemic took hold, it was still generating around £1 million a week in spend. But with no major corporate events planned for the rest of this year, visitor numbers being restricted, and international or cruise tourists virtually non-existent, income will be a mere fraction of what it has been used to. However, chief executive Judith Owens insists ambition is as big as ever – and is appealing to the home market to lend its support. She said: “Since opening in 2012 we’ve not only became a key economic driver for Northern Ireland, but the symbol of it and its spirit.
The image of the iceberg was taken by the captain of another ship just two days before it struck the Titanic. Captain W. Wood, who served on board the SS Etonian, captured the huge iceberg on his camera. He got the photo developed when he reached New York and sent the print to his great-grandfather. Along with the photo, Wood also sent a letter that stated that this was the iceberg that sank the Titanic. “I am sending you a sea picture, the Etonian running before a gale and the iceberg that sank the Titanic. We crossed the ice tracks 40hrs before her and in daylight so saw the ice easily and I got a picture,” Wood wrote in the letter.
From an archaeological perspective, recovering the radio will involve further damage to the memorial site for very limited gain with regard to scientific and cultural knowledge. We already know the make, model and history of this radio. So motivation for the salvage appears to lie in the radio’s economic potential as a tourist attraction and through a possible future sale. As archaeologists we understand there are times when intrusive and destructive interventions are required. But such acts need to be carefully considered in light of their impact on our shared global heritage. Once such actions take place they cannot be undone. A court ruling for such a culturally significant site that goes against advice from NOAA and counter to the principles of UNESCO, risks suggesting that the principles of shared heritage and selective intervention can be easily negated through simplistic arguments of degradation and profit.
A whistle that belonged to a hero of the Titanic disaster is up for auction in the U.K., along with a host of other artifacts. The whistle is among a trove of items that belonged to Harold Lowe, a fifth officer on the Titanic. “Harold Lowe was without doubt one of the heroes of the Titanic disaster,” explained auctioneer Andrew Aldridge of U.K. auction house Henry Aldridge & Son in a statement emailed to Fox News. The archive has been in the possession of Lowe’s direct descendants.
In a memo supporting the motion to intervene meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kent Porter points to an international agreement with the United Kingdom that the United States signed into law two years ago, saying it “precludes penetrating the wreck for salvage purposes, or if any activity would physically disturb the hull, artifacts or human remains.” Porter says any salvage activities are subject to federal regulation “RMST did not and has not sought an authorization from the secretary of commerce for this or any of the other activity set forth in its Research Design,” the 22-page memo states.
The U.S. government will try to stop a company’s planned salvage mission to retrieve the Titanic’s wireless telegraph machine, arguing the expedition would break federal law and a pact with Britain to leave the iconic shipwreck undisturbed. U.S. attorneys filed a legal challenge before a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, late Monday. The expedition is expected to begin by the end of August. The Atlanta-based salvage firm RMS Titanic Inc., said it would exhibit the telegraph while telling the stories of the operators who broadcast the sinking ship’s distress calls.
[Sorry for not posting sooner-been busy with work!]
Judge Okays Titanic Salvage
A federal judge has ruled in favor of R.M.S. Titanic (RMST)to go on an expedition to recover artifacts from the Titanic wreck. The company had petitioned to court to allow it to retrieve the Marconi telegraph and other artifacts. The company argued that due to deterioration these items had to be removed or they would be lost forever. The company, which has salvor-in-possession status, was seeking a modification of a July 2000 order which forbade it from cutting into the hull.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opposed by filing an amicus curiae with the court. NOAA challenged the evidence justifying the expedition and arguing it was illegal under a 2017 Commerce Appropriations Act that prohibits this activity unless approved by the Secretary of Commerce. They also argued it was out of bounds due to an international agreement. Judge Rebecca Smith found the only issue before the court was whether RMST had followed the requirements required by previous court rulings. Since NOAA was not an actual party to the case, she did not rule on any of the merits raised in their brief to the court.
District Court Allows Salvage Company To Recover Telegraph from Titanic Wreck (Jurist, 24 May 2020)
This was not wholly unexpected. While many in the Titanic community were against the salvage, RMST claimed it was trying to preserve important artifacts from being lost as the wreck deteriorated. They were able to show to Judge Smith had to merely determine if this was a proper request, that how it would be done be consistent with previous authorized salvage, and that the items would be properly conserved. She was satisfied with what they presented to her.
NOAA’s involvement with the case was odd. Since they were not an actual party, they could only file a friend of the court brief. Their brief though was clearly meant as if they were an actual party to the case. One gets the distinct impression that folks at NOAA believe the federal government and not the court has jurisdiction here. They argued that the Secretary of Commerce is the one that makes decisions here and that an international treaty was also an issue. Judge Smith acknowledged the treaty but made it clear that NOAA has no seat at the table. They were essentially in the stands looking down waving paper at the judge. This must have miffed those behind it at NOAA. They can choose to appeal but on what grounds? If they go the route the Department of Commerce has authority, it sets up an interesting fight on maritime law. They may very well appeal this to stop the salvage. Providing of course they can convince a higher court to stop it. That may not be so easy as it sounds.
Titanic Chronology Updates
Two boys thought orphaned when Titanic sank-Michel Navratil, Jr., 3, and Edmond Navratil, 2, were reunited with their mother. Their father had placed them in a lifeboat and perished when Titanic sank. A worldwide appeal to find relatives of the two boys led to finding the mother.
The first silent disaster movie, Saved From The Titanic, was released. Starring Dorothy Gibson, who had been a passenger aboard Titanic, received positive reviews from critics. Sadly due to a fire in 1914 at the film studio, all prints of the movie were lost. All that we have are production stills and secondary evidence from other accounts of its existence.
RMS Oceanic found the remains three people in a lifeboat from Titanic. The body of passenger Thomson Beattie and two unidentified firemen were recovered. While they apparently survived the sinking, they died from hypothermia or thirst in the collapsible lifeboat. The Canadian ship Montmagny recovered three victims and brought them to Louisberg, Nova Scotia where they were transported to Halifax.
The cable ship Minia returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia with 17 bodies from Titanic . Only 1 had died from drowning and the rest from exposure.
The will of John Jacob Astor IV, who died in the Titanic disaster, was probated. His $150,000,000 estate (worth more than $3.3 billion in 2012) was left to his 22-year-old son, Vincent Astor.[18
I have been withholding posting on some new developments about Titanic until I was fully read up on it. Not too long ago a long dormant treaty to protect the wreck of RMS Titanic was agreed to by the United Kingdom and the United States. Both sides mutually agree that the wreck is to remain untouched. Canada and France have not signed the treaty but are in possible consultations to sign on as well.
Actual salvage ended some years ago when RMS Titanic Inc. (owned by Premier Exhibitions) said no further salvage expeditions were planned. A salvage award was done and the entire collection is up for sale (it has to be sold as one unit). So far no one has put up a successful bid due to the high price and the strict conservation requirements the court imposed.
The state of the wreck is, well, it is a wreck that is going the way of most wrecks. It is steadily decaying and probably will be totally gone in a few decades (perhaps sooner or later but it is inevitable). That raises a concern that perhaps a valuable historical artifact will be totally lost forever if it cannot be recovered soon.
At least that is the concern of RMS Titanic Inc that now is petitioning the federal court for permission to retrieve the Marconi wireless transmitter from inside Titanic. Up until now, artifacts have been retrieved from the debris field and not from the ship itself. The argument is a simple one: it has to be retrieved before the ship decays further making it impossible. As can be expected, a storm of controversy has erupted. If it goes the course as before, the name calling and accusations of grave robbery will be thrown out.
During the first salvage, the Titanic community was divided. Flame wars erupted on the Internet that were so nasty, so personal, and took no prisoners that it drove many from Titanic online communities to never return. Anyone that was pro-salvage was vilified personally and without remorse. One notorious anti-salvager is rumored to have faked his own death to avoid facing his victims.
The essential argument is that with the ship in a rapid state of decay, retrieving this one artifact for history ought to be allowed. It is a compelling argument but so is letting Titanic being left alone as a memorial to those who have perished. A reproduction could serve the same purpose without having to disturb the wreck further.
Still had Howard Carter took pictures and sealed up the tomb of a virtually unknown pharoah, we would never have seen how ornate the tombs of pharoahs really were (most were looted and ransacked) in the Cairo museum today. Both sides have merit and a court in Virginia will make that decision. The treaty may or not play a role in this but it will be interesting to watch.
However, three years after the project was announced financial disputes between Palmer and the Chinese shipyard owners CITIC stalled the project indefinitely. This was until a court ruling in September last year by the Supreme Court of West Australia told the shipyard to repay $150m to the project, enough to refloat the titanic building project. There are mixed reports as to whether construction is already underway, with little detail as to location or new project deadlines with 2022 being the latest prediction.
E/M Group and its affiliate, RMS Titanic, Inc., announced today that it will collaborate with La Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg, France on a series of research and exhibition projects regarding Titanic and its passengers. In addition, the partnership will include a specially curated exhibition, highlighting numerous artifacts recovered from the wreck of Titanic that have never been seen before in France. Slated to open in spring of 2020, the exhibition will appear in La Cite de la Mer’s Titanic permanent exhibition.
On 8 Oct 2018, Premier Exhibitions filed a Notice of Cancellation of Auction with the federal bankruptcy court as no other bidders met the minimum required. This means that the bid submitted by PacBridge Capital Partners (HK) et al for $19.5 million will stand. The company will now seek the court approval to sell the company and artifacts to them.
The Equity Committee has filed motions opposing the sale and still seeks other bidders.