Tag Archives: Robert Ballard

Titanic Musings-Ballard Wishes He Claimed Titanic

Right now the artifacts raised from Titanic are up for auction but only as a single lot. RMS Titanic, Inc. did not like this restriction since it makes hard to find a buyer or group of buyers willing to put up $189 million. However the proposed auction has been delayed and a press release yesterday indicates they are in negotiations with multiple parties. A press conference originally scheduled for 11 April has been put off until further notice. One wonders who these buyers might be considering the huge price tag. It could be a consortium of museums, government entities, or very wealthy business people who want to continue the exhibition.

Robert Ballard, who was part of the expedition that found Titanic in 1985, now regrets disclosing its location. Further he wishes now he could have made a claim on the wreck to prevent salvage. Except of course he could not have done so easily. Likely he would be excluded do his association with Wood’s Hole at the time. Wood’s Hole received government money and worked with the U.S. Navy. And government employees and those who work or affiliated with government are excluded from making salvage claims (which would give them an unfair advantage over private companies). Then there is the fact that Ballard was a reserve naval officer. Ballard knows this making his recent claim on National Public Radio curious. Then again perhaps it was just wistful thinking on his part.

Perhaps even more odd is the United Nations stance in the manner. Some years ago there was an attempt to secure a treaty to protect Titanic from further salvage. The proposed signatories would have been Britain, France, Canada, and the United States. The Titanic Treaty was never formally ratified and thus never came into effect (supposedly because France did not want to sign). But UNESCO apparently has included Titanic as protected under a 2001 convention on underwater cultural heritage. This comes into effect this year according to MSNBC thus any further salvage would allow parties to the convention to seize artifacts and prevent exploration that is “deemed unscientific or unethical.”

The problem is that no one is going to enforce this if the party involved either follows maritime law to salvage or is simply diving down to view the wreck. Simply diving down to view is allowed despite a foolish court action by RMS Titanic, Inc years ago to stop it (they lost, by the way). And UNESCO can do nothing if artifacts are raised and taken to a country that tells them to take a hike (like China or Russia). This sounds like your typical feel good thing that makes one feel good but actually achieves very little in the end.

That leaves Doug Wooley, who claims to own Titanic and wants to raise it, with a problem. Good luck on that Doug, 🙂

Titanic Musings

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 of the sinking has spurred many an event around the world, so many it is hard to keep track of. Why does Titanic still grab us long after sank in 1912? Recently while viewing an old National Geographic on India’s historic railway, the narrator noted that images linger long after leaving. And that is possibly at play here. Many who learn about Titanic get an image of a grand ship, of the people who worked on it, of the people who sailed on her from the highest to the lowest, and the image of the grand ship sinking on a cold moonless night taking with her 1,500 souls. Some were well known men and women, others just people working the ship to make money or traveling to a new life in the United States. The images linger.

Walter Lord’s  A Night To Remember (and later its sequel The Night Lives On) connected people to what happened in 1912. When it came out in 1955, people rediscovered the story which had lain dormant through two world wars and the Great Depression. It spurred a 1958 movie, A Night To Remember, which became a classic and many consider to be faithful to the actual story. Lord interviewed many Titanic survivors and did considerable research for his book. Both the movie and the book relay images from a time that linger with you. Perhaps it is seeing the Strauss’ deciding to stay aboard or Guggenheim dressed in his Sunday best. Or the people rowing away watching the ship go down. While some survivors reported the ship broke in two, that was discounted at the hearings but verified in 1985 when the wreck was found.

Other images have come into focus as well, such as seeing images of the wreck. The stern section is completely twisted and torn up likely because of trapped air inside as it went down. The front still has the outline of the famous ship but it too shows damage. Many artifacts have been brought up from the debris field, many of which are part of the traveling Titanic Exhibition. People may disagree over whether salvage was right or not, but seeing the artifacts of those who traveled aboard make the story come alive. And the story continues to thrive all over the place such as school kids doing Titanic themed projects or people putting up small displays about Titanic in a retirement home.

The wreck is suffering the ravages of time. Robert Ballard believes submarine excursions to the wreck have caused damage but there is disagreement. Some think that trash dumped by ships nearby is causing more bacteria activity that is eating away at the wreck. One thing is certain: the wreck will not last forever. Some argue the front section could be brought up (Douglas Wooley for instance) and put on display. Many, however, believe that would be an impossible task considering how deeply embedded the ship is in the sand. The images of the wreck remain with us as a haunting reminder of what if. What if this had been done instead of that. There are many things that if had been done differently might have averted the catastrophe and tragedy to come. Sometimes we get a jolt when a ship like Costa Concordia ends up on the rocks reminding all of the perils at sea even in our modern times.

There have been many notable and even worse shipwrecks than Titanic. Yet despite that Titanic lingers in the mind more than those events. The images linger.


Titanic News for 4 Nov 2011

Titanic : A Poignant Reminder At Singapore (1 Nov 2011, TruthDive)
It is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic which set sail in April 1912. Dropping anchor in Singapore at the Art-Science Museum at the Marina Bay Sands, visitors can walk through 2,500 sq. metres of gallery space for a poignant journey on the ill-fated Titanic and her passengers. The exhibition which is on till April 2012 will feature moving reminders of the people who had taken the trip – a gold pocket watch, a cravat, a pair of brown boots, a silver pot and even a suitcase which had contained vials of perfume.

The Man Who Found The Titanic (1 Nov 2011, BBC News)
So I put it to him that, while elsewhere in the world it is regarded as iconic, in Northern Ireland we are still not quite certain how to cope with the ship’s loss. “I’m glad that Belfast is finally proud of having built the Titanic”, he explained. “They built an amazing ship. It wasn’t their fault that it sank. It was an amazing piece of engineering. So I am really pleased that they are now proud of what they did.” There used to be an old put-down in Belfast if you mentioned the Titanic with any degree of interest. “It sank – get over it!”. But the finishing touches are being put to a £100m building to mark the centenary. It stands in the Titanic Quarter near the centre of Belfast, beside the preserved slipway where the Titanic was launched all those years ago.

Coventry Marks Links To Titanic On 100th Anniversary Of Tragedy (1 Nov 2011, Coventry Telegraph)
The city-based Titanic Heritage Trust has put together a fascinating programme of talks and theatrical events at Blue Coat School, Stoke, to mark the anniversary of RMS Titanic’s tragic sinking in 1912. The five-month programme begins this month. Events include the poignant reflections of David Haisman – a local relative of Edith Brown, the Titanic’s oldest survivor – who himself served in the Merchant Navy and worked as look-out on ice fields across the North Atlantic. There will also be a staged recreation of a 1912 musical evening held to raise money for the Titanic Relief Fund.

The Titanic Sails Into Singapore (1 Nov 2011, Channel News Asia)
Don’t start learning the lyrics of the title song in the movie Titanic, or practising the famous DiCaprio-Winslet pose, the Titanic exhibition now on in Singapore is nothing about the movie, and everything about real-life on the iconic ship. Dropping anchor in Singapore at the ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands, visitors can wander through 2,500 square metres of gallery space for a poignant journey on the ill-fated Titanic and her passengers. The exhibition which is on till April 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic which set sail in April 1912 will feature poignant reminders of the people who had taken the trip – a gold pocket watch, a cravat and even a suitcase which had contained vials of perfume.

Rare Titanic First Class Deck Plan Sold For £33000 (30 Oct 2011, Liverpool Echo)
A rare Titanic first class deck plan belonging to a wealthy New York couple who drowned at sea has sold at auction for £30,000. It is thought to be only one of three in existence and was in the hands of a private collector since Ms Bird’s death in 1949. Despite the deck plan’s age and fragile condition, the delicate document has remained in one piece. Other top sellers included the first class D deck toilet keys, which made £43,000, and the SS Birma log archive documenting the final signals Titanic sent, selling for £32,000. A Titanic stamp booklet made £33,000 and three unpublished images of Titanic’s launch sold for £25,000.

Raising The Titanic At Paramount Theme Park (29 Oct 2011, The Leader Newspaper Online)
The legend of Titanic is rising from the murky depths of history and will be on show at the new Paramount Theme Park to open in 2015. Obviously, this will not be the original ship, but a full size replica is being built at the theme park, where visitors can indeed travel back in time and keep the memory of the soon to be lost ship afloat. The park will open for 282 days of the year from 10am-10pm, and will consist of 7 hotels and over 30 themed rides, of which Titanic will be a star attraction in the “Adventure City”, along with others like a roller coaster representation of the film The Italian Job, and a “virtual reality” experience of Mission Impossible.

Historically Significant Titanic Archive Brings 100 570 At Philip Weiss Auctions (27 Oct 2011, News-antique.com-press release)
A historically significant and museum-quality archive of material pertaining to the doomed ocean liner the HMS Titanic — consigned by direct descendants of a couple that were rescued when the ship went down the morning of April 15, 1912 — sold for a staggering $100,570 at a weekend estate sale conducted Oct. 21-23 by Philip Weiss Auctions.

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