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.
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 mediator appointed in the Premier bankruptcy proceedings has filed a report with the court. The report states in part:
Significant progress was made in reaching agreement among a number of the parties on a path for exiting the Chapter 11 cases. However, certain of the parties are continuing their dialogue in an effort to reach closure on some important remaining issues. The parties have requested the mediator to maintain the confidentiality of the nature and extent of settlement until the finalization of agreements between some or all of the parties, particularly in light of the fact that equity securities of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. are publicly traded.
Titanic. Put that into a search engine and you get a lot back. Lots of sites to explore devoted to the subject (shameless plug alert for Titanic News Channel) along with sites that incorporate it in some fashion. Of course the entertainment news sites are full of stuff about the stars of that Cameron movie and what they think today about their roles. The movie is still widely popular and many will likely see the 3-D version. It is a visually stunning movie with perhaps the best recreation of what the ship and people looked like in 1912.
The 100th anniversary has come and gone. And yet people still flock to Titanic Belfast and other Titanic connected sites and exhibits. The question I posed in 2012 still holds true today: Why Does Titanic Still Grab Us? I said back then that a National Geographic documentary provided a clue and that is images linger long after leaving. And with Titanic its images remain with us. There are a lot to choose from: photos of the ship, the crew, the passengers, stories of their lives, the names of the band that played on that fateful night. The list goes on. The image of the grand ship stays with us because it has so many stories to tell and those stories have images that linger.
There have been numerous books on Titanic to keep those images such as Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember (and later its sequel The Night Lives On) that connect us to what happened in 1912. And the movies that follow bring it even more alive in the big screen. Add to it the Titanic memorials and exhibits all over the world. Some ask why this ship is remembered while other maritime disasters with great loss of lift isn’t. The images linger.
Some images provoke disagreement. To salvage or not or was Captain Stanley Lord a villain? The images of the wreck itself are testament to the final outcome. It lies, broken in two, two miles below the surface of the ocean. And it is slowly being claimed by the sea. The artifacts brought up by the various salvage expeditions will soon be all the remains of that once great ship. At Titanic memorials on land and sea, people will remember those who died on Titanic. We know it ought not to have happened. So many what-ifs could have changed the outcome but they all added up to the same deadly outcome for over 1500 people.