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Titanic mission green-lit – but strictly look don’t touch

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Wreck of the Titanic
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The US government has officially reversed its decision to block an expedition to the Titanic, after the company that owns all salvage rights to the shipwreck agreed to reduce the mission’s scope to no more than a survey.

Last year Georgia-based RMS Titanic (RMST), with approval from the judge who oversees its activities, had announced plans not only to capture images from inside the hull but to retrieve items from the interior – specifically the historic Marconi radio-room – and from the debris field. The government had countermanded that project.

The expedition will now go ahead in the middle of this month (July) but will be restricted to external image capture of the Titanic using ROVs.

RMST adjusted its plans following the death of its underwater research director Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was one of the passengers on OceanGate’s Titan submersible near the Titanic site in June.

RMST acquired Titanic salvage rights in 1994 and, by the time of its last expedition in 2010, had removed some 5,500 items from the wreck to display in its exhibitions, mainly in the USA. 

Treated as a grave-site

More than 1,500 people died when the liner struck an iceberg and sank in 1912, but it was only in 2017 that further disturbance of the wreck was prevented by US federal law and a pact with the UK that determined to treat it as a grave-site. 

The planned expedition would originally have tested this protection and caused the US court to file a legal challenge  last August.

And in its recently published ruling about the July expedition, the government has reiterated that its preventative approach will still apply to any future attempts to retrieve objects, whether from within the Titanic wreck or its debris field.

“This expedition will utilise cutting-edge technology to focus on imaging and high-resolution photography of the site to preserve the Titanic’s legacy for future generations and scientific study,” says RMST of its upcoming venture. “It will be carried out by ROVs to survey the wreck-site and debris field.

“The images captured will reveal important new insights into the condition of the site, areas and artefacts at risk, and contribute to ongoing conservation efforts and educational initiatives already underway.”

Also read: Legendary shipwreck of RMS Titanic ‘returning to nature’, Ship that sent iceberg warning to Titanic found in Irish Sea, Viral dive-log faked: Titan divers had no warning, Titan sub debris recovered from seabed

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