Douglas Wooley, who claims to own Titanic, long has had plans to bring Titanic to Liverpool and partially restore it as tourist attraction. Now according News North Wales, he has found a ship to assist in this endeavor: TSS Duke of Lancaster. The Lancaster, built in 1956, has been beached near Mostyn, Wales since 1979. Originally built as passenger steamer for British Railways by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, it was converted to a car ferry in the 1960’s. In 1979 the ship was sold to Empirewise Ltd, who according to Wikipedia would use the ship as “static leisure centre and market.” It became known as the “Fun Ship” but later was used as a warehouse. Despite its weathered appearance apparently the inside is in good condition. Right now it sits awaiting either to be scrapped or possibly used as an open art gallery to display graffiti.
And now Wooley thinks this will be a fine ship to aid in bringing up Titanic. The ship’s co-owner John Rowley, doubts the plan and adds “I have no comment on the idea,” he said. “I would be amazed if Mr Woolley is able to keep a straight face through it all. I obviously do not share the same sense of humour as this budding salvage man, but each to their own.”
You have to admire Douglas. He has never given up on the idea of raising Titanic. He claims (and likely does own) the actual wreck. Even if he could put all the pieces together to bring up just a portion, it would run into all kinds of practical and legal obstacles. Clive Palmer’s project to build Titanic II has more probability of being done than raising a part of Titanic from its watery grave.
Does it really matter who found Titanic? Yes if you believe it was found before 1985. There have always been nagging claims that others found it, either private salvors or via classified naval operations. We know Ballard learned its approximate location during a classified naval operation involving the sunken U.S. submarine Scorpion. Ballard and the team got the credit in 1985 primarily because they could actually prove it. Claims that emerged fall into two distinct categories: (1) previous expeditions to locate Titanic that may have located the wreck; (2) classified U.S. or Royal Navy missions that may have located the wreck and kept secret for national security reasons.
Paul Lee has a fascinating web page on the subject (http://www.paullee.com/titanic/titanicfound.html) and goes through the many threads this story takes. It is worth a read to understand why many claim Ballard was not the first one to locate Titanic. Is it possible that others located Titanic? Sure but without any real proof such as statements under oath and documents that can be verified, there is not much to back up many of the claims. Paul Lee notes recently of hydrographic studies done that may have found the wreck, though not necessarily knowing exactly what they found. A 1980 study appears have passed right over the wreck and may have located it. But there is no way to prove that right now.
So we are left with some tantalizing possibilities but nothing that can definitively prove that Titanic was found prior to 1985.
Many have heard the name Douglas Wooley. He is the British chap who claims to own Titanic (the wreck at any rate) and also argues for Titanic being found prior to 1985. He is now seeking investors to raise Titanic (and Queen Elizabeth I). You can get information at http://www.swsalvors.co.uk.