Tag Archives: Federal Judge Rebecca Beach Smith

Catching up on Titanic News;Court Allows Salvage of marconi radio

[Sorry for not posting sooner-been busy with work!]

Judge Okays Titanic Salvage

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

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.

Source:

Commentary:

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

May 16,1912

  • 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.

May 14,1912

  • Advertisement for the 1912 film “Saved from the Titanic”. This is an EDITED version, it is a simulated color version based on the color version already on Commons.
    1912
    Public Domain

    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.

May 13,1912

  • 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.

May 6,1912

  • 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)[17] was left to his 22-year-old son, Vincent Astor.[18

Major Decision: Federal Judge Awards Title To Titanic Artifacts

The long awaited decision of Federal Judge Beach regarding title to Titanic artifacts has been rendered. Judge Beach granted RMS Titanic, Inc. title to fine china, ship fittings, and other artifacts recovered from the ship by the company. The condition is that the artifacts be preserved so the court will have to approve sales.

Sources:

1. The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk Judge Awards Rights To Titanic Artifacts, 16 August 2011

2. Associated Press, Judge: Salvage Firm Has Title To Titanic Artifacts, 15 Aug 2011

 

Titanic Musings

Titanic Musings And Other Things

I took a break for a needed vacation and catching up on Titanic news and recordings in my DVR.

1) The Grand Expedition
Call the press, contact cable and network shows for booking, and get lots of video coverage about the sorry state of a wreck two miles down. We will fill the ship with historians, scientists, and other interesting people to comment on the state of the wreck. Get that? It is about the decay rate of the wreck as if we did not know already that nature is consuming the wreck. Sure there is scientific interest in finding out the decay rate, how organisms two miles down operate, and lots of other technical stuff. If that was it was about, it would be a special edition of National Geographic Explorer. If they wanted zing, bring any or all of the following from the Travel Channel: Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Samantha Brown, and the guy who yells. Otherwise I suspect it is a yawner and just to create positive buzz for Premiere Exhibitions and its subsidiary, RMS Titanic Inc perhaps because.…

2) Salvage Verdict Comes Down in Their Favor
What wonderful coincidence! Federal Judge Rebecca Beach Smith finally issues after what seems a millennia, her ruling on the salvage award. Issued just before the Grand Expedition, she rules they are entitled to compensation and sets the value of the artifacts at $110 million. What is left to be determined is how they will get compensated The easiest–and most controversial–would be to give them the artifacts. RMS Titanic, Inc would then be free to sell the artifacts to museums, collectors and other interested parties. The predictable howl from the anti-salvage crowd will be loud if this occurs. Long ago the pro and anti salvage crowd on the Internet got into heated flamewars resulting in Titanic enthusiasts hating each other. It split the Titanic community into rival camps and still does when the topic comes up. One the other hand, Judge Smith could award them the artifacts on the condition they only be sold to museums and recognized exhibitors. The other option is for the court to hold the sale and distribute the proceeds.

There are lots of legal issues that have to be worked out and that will take time. It is also possible others will file appeals to overturn the decision or seek the court to modify its decision in some way. Stay tuned!

3) Titanic Cliche Overload
Far too many politicians, commentators, and others use the Titanic Cliche so much as make one wonder if they ever attended a literature or writing class.

4) Top Chef Washington is Top Chef Boring
Who stole the pea puree? Okay think about that for a second. If the most exciting thing on this show is whether or not a cheftestant stole a pea puree, we have a problem. It seems no one liked this chap very much and quickly labeled him a thief. It became clear that when Kevin, Kenny, Kelly and Amanda were the losing team in Restaurant War when Kenny opened his mouth complaining that Alex did nothing (though on the winning team). It looked petty and foolish considering what the judges told them. Kevin’s dish was excellent, Kenny did two dishes that failed, Kelly did a watery soup they disliked but saved herself on dessert, and Amanda botched cooking the beef. All in all pretty bad. Kenny’s goat cheese dessert was reviled by the judges (Frank Bruni’s look when he tasted it was classic). Kenny got the boot since as executive chef he was in charge, put out two bad dishes, and allowed other bad dishes to go out.

For the most part this show is forgettable and looks tired. From reading the various postings elsewhere, this season is not generating that much great buzz despite being in Washington D.C. Last season saw some great cooking and really top notch competitors. This season seems to have lackluster (by comparison to previous seasons excluding Season Two which was pretty bad) cheftestants and no one really to get interested in winning. More interested in watching who screws up and place bets on who goes home each week. Otherwise watching repeats of Mythbusters is better, funny, and educational all at the same time (and yes they have tackled some food myths along the way).

5) Titanic 2
Yes, it is true that there is a movie by that name. Suffice to say it has gone straight to the bottom as predicted. They ought to have made it high camp instead or turned it soft porn with Pamela Anderson bouncing about.

6) A Titanic Christmas
Two words that ought not go together: Titanic and Christmas. One is a terrible tragedy and the other a religious celebration. So when a press release was sent out over the web (alas I did not get it being a lowly blogger) announcing a Titanic themed Christmas in Pigeon Forge, I wondered if it was a spoof. Not so it seems. According to the release:

“Christmas in a Winter Wonderland” runs November 13-January 1, 2011. Co-owner, Mary Kellogg-Joslyn plans to pull out all the stops to make her Titanic’s first holidays in Pigeon Forge, memorable. First, there will be $150,00 in snow equipment (the same equipment used to make it show every Christmas at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom). Secondly, $100,000 will be spent on Christmas trees, holiday lights and ornamentation throughout the interior and exterior of the museum. There will also be carolers and other musical events. While the holiday celebration will be elaborate, the owners plan to hold true to their idea of the importance of telling the stories of the Titanic’s passengers and crew.”

Some will criticize it but in the end the consumer will decide whether the gamble pays off or not.

7) Dodgeball with a Twist
One of the funny things about Warehouse 13 on SyFy is that they can have some ordinary objects become dangerous. Take the dodgeball. Normally you try to knock the opponents out of the game by hitting them with the ball. Pete and Myka encounter a dodgeball that multiplies on contact. Meaning if it strikes you one becomes two. Then two becomes three and so on. One can see the obvious problem here. In minutes you could have a dozen or so balls hurling towards you and increasing in numbers after contact. It is never said but it is a nod to the most famous of all such things, the tribble from Star Trek. It multiplies quickly if lots of food is around and nothing checks it (we did learn in Enterprise they do have a predator). A nice nod to the Trouble With Tribbles from Warehouse 13.