Titanic Survivor Family Objects To Billionaire Diving to Titanic

Colorised photo of Ned Parfett, best known as the “Titanic paperboy”, holding a large newspaper about the sinking, standing outside the White Star Line offices at Oceanic House on Cockspur Street near Trafalgar Square in London SW1, April 16, 1912.
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

As noted on 30 May, an Ohio billionaire named Larry Connor wants to dive to Titanic to show that submersibles are safe. This has prompted Shelley Binder, the descendant of Titanic survivors Leah and Phillip Aks to come forward an object to his plan. According to the interview, she believes the resting place of those who died should remain undisturbed.

“Fundamentally, I think one could say these people have more dollars than sense,” Binder told the outlet. “And the idea of tourism to a wreck where 1,496 people lost their lives in a truly horrific disaster of epic proportions is offensive. What happened aboard that ship was extremely traumatic and harrowing for my great-grandmother and great-uncle. This was a devastating and landmark moment in their lives, and it had long-lasting repercussions for my entire family.”

While diving to the wreck to retrieve artifacts requires court approval, merely diving down to see the wreck is legal. When the idea of Titanic dive tourism began, RMS Titanic Inc. sought to stop people from diving claiming it had sole access to the wreck. However a federal appeals court ultimately ruled against them agreeing with the argument that merely viewing cannot violate their salvage claim. After all, one may have exclusive photos of the Empire State Building in New York but you cannot stop people from going to it and taking their own pictures.

Whether or not Larry Connor will go through with it is another story.  However it is more likely to occur than a certain Australian mogul’s desire to build a modern day Titanic. Despite lots of fanfare, it remains unbuilt to this day.

Pollina, Richard. “Titanic Survivor’s Family Rips ‘offensive’ Ohio Billionaire Larry Connor for Planning to Take Sub to Site After OceanGate Tragedy.” New York Post, 5 June 2024, nypost.com/2024/06/05/us-news/titanic-survivors-family-rips-offensive-ohio-billionaire-larry-connor-for-planning-to-take-sub-to-site-after-oceangate-tragedy.

Suggested Reading

Behe, George. Fate Deals a Hand: The Slippery Fortunes of Titanic’s Professional Gamblers. History Press, 2023.

Fitch, Tad, et al. On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic. 2015.

Lynch, Donald. Titanic: An Illustrated History. Hyperion, 1995.

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