A French research team plans to begin salvage operations to bring up relics from the wreckage of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. U.S. scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Titanic survivors like Eva Hart believe that disturbing the artifacts is wrong, and that the Titanic should be left undisturbed.
Is Salvaging Items from the Titanic Wrong?
CHRIS WALLACE, Correspondent:
It’s been almost two years since the wreck of the Titanic was sighted off Newfoundland; the ocean liner sank in 1912. After the discovery, there was widespread sentiment against removing any treasures from the liner. But now, as NBC’s Jim Bittermann reports, a team of French explorers is beginning a controversial salvage operation.
JIM BITTERMANN, reporter:
The Titanic may not lie quietly and undisturbed for much longer. If the French deep water explorers and the backers have their way, in the next eight weeks, objects from the ship, including perhaps, the ship’s safes, will be brought to the surface and back to dry land. This French research submarine has already arrived at direct site in international waters off Newfoundland and was scheduled today to begin test dives. It will descend two and half miles to the ocean floor, where it will launch a small robot, which can snake inside the wreck. The technique is like that used by the Woods Hole Massachusetts Oceanography Institute when it explored the Titanic. But the Woods Hole scientists are not happy at all that the French now plan to bring back relics.
CHRISTOPHER VON ALT (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution): When we were out there in 1986 we had the capability to retrieve objects from the bottom if we chose to do so, but we chose not to.
BITTERMANN: But a spokesman for the government-run French research institute said there were no qualms at all about salvaging the Titanic.
DR. ERIC ISTHORDING (Researcher of Sea Institute): We’re not trying to salvage the wreck, we are not breaking the wreck, we are not removing any corpses. We are just going on the Titanic and maybe removing some artifacts.
BITTERMANN: Survivors of the Titanic though like, like Mrs. Eva Hart of London who watched with her mother as her father went down with the ship, are opposed to the French expedition.
EVA HART (Titanic Survivor): It’s just the grave of those people. There is absolutely no reason to disturb it.
BITTERMANN: The French researchers say that under contractual agreements, nothing brought up from the Titanic can ever be sold, but there will be plenty of money to be made nonetheless from public exhibitions of the artifacts as well as films and books about the two and a half million-dollar exploration.
It’s still not entirely clear who is backing the French mission but what does seem to be increasingly evident is that after 75 years of lying inaccessible on the ocean bottom, the wreck of the Titanic is about to be at the center of an international treasure hunt. Jim Bittermann, NBC News, Paris.
Titanic, RMS, Discovery, Salvage, Sunken, Treasure, French, France, Expedition, Exploration, Explorers, Wreckage, Research, Submarine, International, Waters, Debate, Robot, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Relics, Christopher Von Alt, Eric Isthording, SEA Research Institute, Rights, Artifacts, Survivor, Eva Hart, Grave, Ethics, Archaeology