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US Opposition in Titanic Expedition Sparks Legal Tug-of-War

Friday, September 1, 2023 • Tamil Comments
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The U.S. is opposing an upcoming expedition to recover historical artifacts from the sunken wreck of the Titanic on the grounds that federal law and an international agreement consider the site of the Titanic a sacred grave site.

The legal battle taking place in Norfolk, Va., centres on whether RMS Titanic Inc., which holds salvage rights for the shipwreck, can legally claim status as a memorial to the 1,500 people who perished when it sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. The main concern would be the potential disturbance or removal of artifacts and human remains still present, but according to the U.S., any intrusion or alteration of the remains of the ship is governed by federal law and its agreement with Britain.

RMS Titanic Inc. plans to schedule the expedition for May 2024 in hopes of capturing photos of the entire wreck and recovering more artifacts from the debris field without touching or removing any part of the wreck. They will work with NOAA, but they don't say they plan to apply for a permit.

The U.S. government says that unless he makes an exception based on laws that have since been enacted, RMS Titanic Inc. needs permission from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who oversees NOAA. The company said it already owns salvage rights granted by a Norfolk court decades ago and has preserved many Titanic artifacts over time.

In 2020, a similar battle was fought over a proposed expedition to retrieve the ship’s radio. There were initial approvals made by a judge, but they were challenged by the government and ultimately postponed because of the pandemic. The ongoing dispute is about preserving history versus respecting the Titanic site as a resting place for those lost in the tragedy.

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