Raising the Titanic

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I just read an article in this months RED BOOK magizine that there is going to be an attempt to raise a part of the hull of the titanic this summer. Could someone verify the truth to this, and if so give me any more information on the venture. As much information on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

-- Darrell Wolfe (Drwolfejj@aol.com), July 10, 1998


Hi Darrell:

In 1996, RMS Titanic, Inc., the US court-appointed salvors of the Titanic wreck, attempted to raise a section of the Titanic's hull plating. They got it within 300 feet of the surface when the ropes on the lifting bags began to break. The piece was towed underwater about ten miles toward the Newfoundland coast before they lost enough lift ropes to keep the piece up.

The hull piece sank again, but the position was marked with transponders and fixed with GPS, so RMSTI knows where it is. They are planning another attempt late this summer to raise this piece of the ship's hull.


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), July 11, 1998.


What are they planning to do with the piece if they get it up? Preserve it somehow? Put it on display? Just how big will it be?

My understanding is that without ***very*** careful preservation techniques, most things from the wreck, especially steel items, crumble to dust when exposed to air. When I saw RMSTI's exhibit at the Queen Mary this last March, everything was immersed in some sort of water tank with "preservation" fluids.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), July 11, 1998.

Hi Tom:

I honestly don't know what RMSTI's plans are. In 1996, I read at one point that they were planning to tow the piece underwater back to New York, and have the official "raising" there (so that Titanic could finally "make port" as it were).

As you may know if you've been following the lengthy salvage debate on Mark Taylor's list, RMSTI has come in for some scathing criticism of its preservation methodology (or lack of methodology, according to some). As for the "big piece", as RMSTI has dubbed it, I guess it'll depend on how much money they want to invest in chemically stabilizing it.


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), July 13, 1998.

Hello Kip and Tom: I believe "the big piece" is a 20'x30' section of the outer hull. When they tried to raise this before, it was horizontal and therefore incurred a lot of physical stress and eventually broke the lift lines. Now this piece is upright and should be raised that way. I have a problem with the preservation technology once this piece reaches it's ultimate destination. Of all that has been recovered from the ship, I would think that this item would be a real challenge to make sure it does not deterioate.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), July 13, 1998.

Thanks to Peter and Kip.

RMSTI will certainly have their hands full if they ever get the thing up. If they destroy it, Titanic lovers from around the world will be lining up to hang George Tulloch in effigy, or worse, at least if Mark Taylor's list is any indication. Where Tulloch and Co. would keep said piece is yet another question I haven't heard any answer to.

BTW, hauling the thing into New York harbor and claiming that Titanic has "made it", with a big show and all seems...well, VERY LAME would be an understatement, but it will do for polite conversation, I suppose.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (cathytom@ix.netcom.com), July 13, 1998.

I heard on another site that as of January 1, 1999 it will be illegal to raise ANYTHING from the wreck site, let alone the "big piece". And if they do raise it, all hell's gonna break loose from people who consider the wreckage a gravesite. There'll be lawsuits for days. Though I'd personally like to see the thing myself, I'm starting to think it might be better if they let it be, expecially if the money to fund the raising is going to come out of my pocket.

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), July 26, 1998.

I don't know where that other site got its information, but its false. The Titanic wreck site is in international waters, outside of any jurisdiction. The only applicable law here is international maritime salvage law, which says, in short, that whoever gets there first, or is the first to recover items from the wreck, has first dibs.


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), July 26, 1998.

RMST, Inc. is the legal "salvor in possesion" as far as the U.S. is concerned but Kip is right, she lies in international waters and that opens up a whole different can of worms! There has been some discussion that Canada has a claim to her but it is unlikely that that claim will pan out. If you look at the order of things, she was American owned (IMM) but when she sank, her insurer (Lloyds of London) became her owner as they had to pay the claim. However, at some point, and I can't remember when, Lloyds gave up their rights to the ship saying it was unsalvagable so now it is up for grabs and apparently, RMST Inc is doing the grabbing!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), July 27, 1998.

I took the information I found here to the other site I frequent, and this is one of the responses I got. I am interested in your responses to Mr. Haverstrom's statements. With his permission to copy his reply on this site, he writes:

All, I am afraid that the information in this post, regarding Canada's new law about the RMS Titanic wreck is quite untrue. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II signed a Canadian bill in April of this year stating that, as of January 1st, 1999, the RMS Titanic's wreck will become a Royal Historical Site. Whilst it is true that the Titanic lies in international waters, the "continental shelf" on which the Titanic lies has been claimed by Canada (under Royal authority) since the early 1920's (when soundings of the area occurred).

The claiming of continental shelves is a power which many nations excercise, including the United States of America. Normally, such is performed in order to reserve drilling rights for crude oil, but a nation needs not have a reason. The United States claims continental shelf, which is "technically" in international waters, in the Gulf of Mexico, off our Atlantic and Pacific seaboards, and off Hawaii and Alaska. Similarly, the United Kingdom claims quite a bit of shelf in the North Sea, mostly for the purposes of drilling. So, as you can see, such is not unusual in the least.

It is Canada's sovereign power to create a Royal Historical Site on the "land" that they claim. This new law was not a "rumor" - Her Majesty's Canadian Government proposed and passed this law in February, to which Her Majesty assented in April. Such was reported by CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other respectable papers. No nation or international organisation has yet to challenge this law, or Canada's claim to the continental shelf. "RMS Titanic, Inc." has salvage rights to the RMS Titanic, given to them in the early 1990's by Lloyds of London and IMM. However, similar instances occur in the United States between logging corporations and the National Park Service. "RMS Titanic, Inc." will not be allowed to salvage anything from the RMS Titanic, as of January 1, 1999. So, if they wish to disturb the wreck further, they had better do so before then.

George Percival-Symington Haverstrom III New York, NY

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), August 01, 1998.

This is interesting. The rights as "salvor in possession" of the Titanic were given to RMST, Inc by a ruling by an American court, twice. This whole issue should be determined, in my opinion, by international maritime law, not individual countries. Lloyds of London relinquished rights to the wreck long ago in that it was, practically speaking, unsalvagable. IMM no longer exists as far as I know although J.P. Morgan Co. does (or at least I hope they do as I have holdings in them through a Mutual Fund). Regardless of claims by Britain and the U.S., the fact is that Titanic lies in international waters and any claim by any individual country or individual company, I'm sure, will be contested for years to come. It will be an interesting process to watch for sure. Just my opinion!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), August 01, 1998.

Peter, Thanks for responding. It seems to me that just because Canada claims the "shelf", it doesn't mean they have claim to the wreck site. Am I just blonde at the roots or does that make any sense? Let me also clarify that Mr. Haverstrom, though well-educated (as you can see by his impeccable grammar), is only 17 years old!

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), August 01, 1998.

Makes sense to me. Where the ship is physically laying really has no bearing in my opinion because it is well beyond the 12 mile limit. Sounds like the the author, young or not, needs to bone up on maritime law (not that I am an expert in maritime or any other form of law). I think international waters is the key here. I wonder how much of what he related is actually fact and not coming from some tabloid as they have a habit of doing in that country (as well as others, including our own.). I refer this to our "legal eagles" on this list (Hello Kip) and we will see what their thoughts are.

Regards, Peter (blond at the roots, and proud of it but getting greyer every day!)

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), August 01, 1998.

This child doesn't read tabloids, and his father is a lawyer (or so he says). Don't get me wrong...I hope the brat is wrong! Not because of the situation with the wreck sight, but just cuz he's a brat!

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), August 02, 1998.

Uh...no offense to the true blondes on this board...or the bottled ones, either...(me and my big mouth)...

-- Gilded Age Junkie (GildedAgeJunkie@yahoo.com), August 04, 1998.

The guy who said that stuff about Canada and the Titanic is right, and Peter Nivling is wrong. I heard about the new law, too... the Titanic is now a Canadian national historical site. And it's perfectly legal. The US can claim continental shelves as territory (US Code, Title 48, Chapter 15: Conveyance of Submerged Lands to Territories), so Canada can, too. It's the right of every country on earth. So, what's located on those lands is the property of the countries who those lands belong to. Sorry, people.


-- Nate (foo@bar.com), January 31, 1999.

Hello Nate:

What HMQEII signs, proclaims or whatever has no bearing on the Titanic. It is a shipwreck in international waters. The US Code that you site has to do mainly with mineral rights and fisheries and as far as "Conveyance of Submerged Lands", it refers to the US Possessions of Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa. It has nothing to do with shipwrecks. Canada has no legal claim to Titanic and for that matter neither does the US and/or George Tulloch and RMS Titanic, Inc other than what was ordered in a US court, as I said before, twice. It is a matter of who gets there first and who recovers the first item that, at this point, is the determining factor **as far as the US is concerned** UNTIL someone challenges that and, to this point, I don't believe anyone has. Having said that, the Canadian Government or the British Crown may be the first to do just that and this "law" may be the first step in that process. We shall see.

I believe the person you are referring to in your post is Mr.Haverstrom III. He states in his post and I quote.."'RMS Titanic, Inc.' has salvage rights to the RMS Titanic, given to them in the early 1990's by Lloyds of London and IMM." As I stated before, International Mercantile Marine no longer exists and Lloyds of London does not own any rights to give up! He refers to logging companies and the National Parks Service. Again, this has to do with natural resources, not shipwrecks.

At any rate, I wish this situation was under control and that there would be no more salvaging of Titanic as I am not a fan of that endeavor. I will say though that I did go see RMSTI's exhibit when it was in Boston and putting my hands on that section of the hull and looking up at it is an experience I will never forget. If I could have prevented any of that from being disturbed, I would have but obviously I could not and I would have regretted not having that experience after 40 years of being a student of the Titanic. As a note, the piece is soaked with water regularly and they have also bolted sacrificial zinc anodes to it to reduce the electolysis factor. It looks in pretty good shape for being submerged in salt water for 86 years!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 01, 1999.

You also might want to look at this site about RMS Republic, another White Star Line ship that sunk in 1909:


Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 02, 1999.

The Titanic started On April 10, 1912 It Was going from Southampton to New York. At that time It was largest and most luxurious ship ever built. It sunk 11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, 400 miles off Newfoundland, Canada 1500 people died.

-- Mike Moore (parrotboy101@hotmial.com), January 23, 2005.

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