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  1. #1
    whydah 1717

    Jun 2006
    newport, Rhode Island
    264
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    TITANIC MISTAKE


    Judge's decision to keep Titanic remains on seabed
    12:42PM Wednesday Mar 25, 2009

    NORFOLK, Virginia - Nearly a century after the Titanic struck ice in the
    North Atlantic, a federal judge in Virginia is poised to preserve the
    largest collection of artifacts from the opulent oceanliner and protect the
    ship's resting place.

    US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith, a maritime jurist who considers the
    wreck an "international treasure," is expected to rule within weeks that the
    salvaged items must remain together and accessible to the public. That would
    ensure the 5,900 pieces of china, ship fittings and personal belongings
    won't end up in a collector's hands or in a London auction house, where some
    Titanic artifacts have landed.

    The judgment could also end the legal tussle that began when a team of
    deep-sea explorers found the world's most famous shipwreck in 1985.

    The salvage company, RMS Titanic Inc., wants the court to grant it limited
    ownership of the artifacts.

    At the same time, a cadre of government lawyers is helping Smith shape
    covenants to strictly monitor future activity at the Titanic wreck 2 1/2
    miles (4 kilometers) beneath the surface of the Atlantic. Amid evidence of
    the ship's deterioration, experts and government lawyers say the sanctity of
    the Titanic must be properly protected as a memorial to the 1,522 people who
    died when it went down.

    For the most part, the value of Titanic is its history - and not from some
    pile of gold, silver and jewels," said Ole Varmer, an attorney in the
    international law office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
    Administration, a US government agency that has developed guidelines for the
    Titanic.

    Because the Titanic sank in international waters on April 15, 1912, and the
    ship's owners are long gone, the wreck site and its artifacts have been
    subject to competing legal claims since an international team led by
    oceanographer Robert Ballard found it 24 years ago. The courtroom survivor
    is RMS Titanic Inc., also known as RMST, which gathered the artifacts during
    six dives. Courts have declared it salvor-in-possession - meaning it has
    exclusive rights to salvage the Titanic - but have explicitly stated it does
    not own the 5,900 artifacts or the wreck itself.

    RMST is a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc., an Atlanta company that
    bills itself as "a major provider of museum-quality touring exhibitions."
    Its offerings include sports memorabilia, a traveling Star Trek homage and
    "Bodies," an anatomy exhibit featuring preserved human cadavers.

    RMST conducts traveling displays of the Titanic artifacts, which the company
    says have been viewed by 33 million people worldwide.

    Last month, RMST underwent a shakeup of its board and saw its director
    resign over the company's poor financial performance, according to Premier
    Exhibitions filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and
    statements by dissident shareholders. Smith had expressed concerns before
    the board shakeup about RMST's ability to continue properly managing the
    collection, considering the company's financial situation.

    No one familiar with the case or the artifacts has questioned RMST's
    handling of them.

    RMST is seeking limited ownership of the artifacts as compensation for its
    salvage efforts. In its court filing for a salvage award, the company put
    the fair market value of the collection at $110.9 million. The same filing
    states that RMST's costs associated with the recovery and conservation of
    the artifacts have exceeded revenues from their display.

    If the court agrees to RMST's request, the company could sell the entire
    collection to a museum with court approval.

    Robert W. McFarland, an attorney for RMST, declined to comment before Smith
    rules.

    Smith is drawing upon the State Department and the government oceanic agency
    to help craft the covenants to keep the artifacts preserved, intact as a
    collection and available to the public, and to guide future salvage
    operations at the Titanic wreck by RMST. At a hearing in November, the
    no-nonsense judge made clear the stakes.

    "I am concerned that the Titanic is not only a national treasure, but in its
    own way an international treasure, and it needs protection and it needs to
    be monitored," the judge told lawyers in the case.

    Congress has expressed its interest in preserving the Titanic as a memorial.
    US lawmakers have not, however, implemented an agreement with the United
    Kingdom, which has already embraced a ban on unregulated salvage of the
    wreck.

    J. Ashley Roach, a retired State Department lawyer who worked on the Titanic
    case, said the Titanic is the first major shipwreck in international waters
    to receive such close scrutiny.

    "You have a domestic court and now the branches of government working
    together to make sure the wreck itself continues to be available in the
    future for the public good," he said.

    International protections have been sought for the Titanic almost since the
    wreck was discovered. Ballard, who led the team that found the ship, told a
    congressional hearing in October 1985:

    "Titanic is like a great pyramid which has been found and mankind is about
    to enter it for the first time since it was sealed. Has he come to plunder
    or appreciate? The people of the world clearly want the latter."

    - AP



    Pirate Diver

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  3. #2
    us
    Apr 2004
    Tesoro Sand Shark, Homebuilt pulse loop
    2,178
    41 times
    Shipwrecks

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Ballard's intention has clearly been to leave the wreck alone. I'm unclear as to why. Would he (and others) rather Titanic's history only be in books? No one is arguing that Titanic artifacts be available for a museum. Why have any artifacts at all? Why have any museums ever? Because it makes history more real...more tangible. What's the real fuss here?

  4. #3
    us
    ScubaGecko

    Jun 2004
    Beaufort, SC
    Garrett Sea Hunter Mk II
    1,903
    9 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Darren, Bob wanted to put his "Tele-presense" into action on Titanic.

    http://www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/ed..._research.html

  5. #4
    us
    Dec 2008
    VALLEY ALABAMA
    GARRETT GTA 500
    3,650
    1 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    it dont matter what a judge says someone will pillage the site and take whatever they want and all these artifacts will end up on the black market. i was watching a documentary not too long ago where a team placed a plaque on the wreck site and returned some months later and someone had stolen it. wish the judge would let someone salvage it for historic purposes before all the other vultures get to it
    STRIPPING SILVER OUT OF BANKS AT FACE

  6. #5
    us
    Sep 2005
    575
    1 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE


    I can appreciate the respect being given here. While the Titanic is a shipwreck, it is too recent and too close to home in terms of affecting human sensitivity regarding this underwater gravesite.

    At the same time, I would be concerned about the legal precedent stating that a company that has a right to "salvage" will not own the artifacts. Will this legal perspective be carried over to other salvage operations ?

    itmaiden








    quote author=piratediver link=topic=227199.msg1653068#msg1653068 date=1238010583]

    Judge's decision to keep Titanic remains on seabed
    12:42PM Wednesday Mar 25, 2009

    NORFOLK, Virginia - Nearly a century after the Titanic struck ice in the
    North Atlantic, a federal judge in Virginia is poised to preserve the
    largest collection of artifacts from the opulent oceanliner and protect the
    ship's resting place.

    US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith, a maritime jurist who considers the
    wreck an "international treasure," is expected to rule within weeks that the
    salvaged items must remain together and accessible to the public. That would
    ensure the 5,900 pieces of china, ship fittings and personal belongings
    won't end up in a collector's hands or in a London auction house, where some
    Titanic artifacts have landed.

    The judgment could also end the legal tussle that began when a team of
    deep-sea explorers found the world's most famous shipwreck in 1985.

    The salvage company, RMS Titanic Inc., wants the court to grant it limited
    ownership of the artifacts.

    At the same time, a cadre of government lawyers is helping Smith shape
    covenants to strictly monitor future activity at the Titanic wreck 2 1/2
    miles (4 kilometers) beneath the surface of the Atlantic. Amid evidence of
    the ship's deterioration, experts and government lawyers say the sanctity of
    the Titanic must be properly protected as a memorial to the 1,522 people who
    died when it went down.

    For the most part, the value of Titanic is its history - and not from some
    pile of gold, silver and jewels," said Ole Varmer, an attorney in the
    international law office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
    Administration, a US government agency that has developed guidelines for the
    Titanic.

    Because the Titanic sank in international waters on April 15, 1912, and the
    ship's owners are long gone, the wreck site and its artifacts have been
    subject to competing legal claims since an international team led by
    oceanographer Robert Ballard found it 24 years ago. The courtroom survivor
    is RMS Titanic Inc., also known as RMST, which gathered the artifacts during
    six dives. Courts have declared it salvor-in-possession - meaning it has
    exclusive rights to salvage the Titanic - but have explicitly stated it does
    not own the 5,900 artifacts or the wreck itself.

    RMST is a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc., an Atlanta company that
    bills itself as "a major provider of museum-quality touring exhibitions."
    Its offerings include sports memorabilia, a traveling Star Trek homage and
    "Bodies," an anatomy exhibit featuring preserved human cadavers.

    RMST conducts traveling displays of the Titanic artifacts, which the company
    says have been viewed by 33 million people worldwide.

    Last month, RMST underwent a shakeup of its board and saw its director
    resign over the company's poor financial performance, according to Premier
    Exhibitions filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and
    statements by dissident shareholders. Smith had expressed concerns before
    the board shakeup about RMST's ability to continue properly managing the
    collection, considering the company's financial situation.

    No one familiar with the case or the artifacts has questioned RMST's
    handling of them.

    RMST is seeking limited ownership of the artifacts as compensation for its
    salvage efforts. In its court filing for a salvage award, the company put
    the fair market value of the collection at $110.9 million. The same filing
    states that RMST's costs associated with the recovery and conservation of
    the artifacts have exceeded revenues from their display.

    If the court agrees to RMST's request, the company could sell the entire
    collection to a museum with court approval.

    Robert W. McFarland, an attorney for RMST, declined to comment before Smith
    rules.

    Smith is drawing upon the State Department and the government oceanic agency
    to help craft the covenants to keep the artifacts preserved, intact as a
    collection and available to the public, and to guide future salvage
    operations at the Titanic wreck by RMST. At a hearing in November, the
    no-nonsense judge made clear the stakes.

    "I am concerned that the Titanic is not only a national treasure, but in its
    own way an international treasure, and it needs protection and it needs to
    be monitored," the judge told lawyers in the case.

    Congress has expressed its interest in preserving the Titanic as a memorial.
    US lawmakers have not, however, implemented an agreement with the United
    Kingdom, which has already embraced a ban on unregulated salvage of the
    wreck.

    J. Ashley Roach, a retired State Department lawyer who worked on the Titanic
    case, said the Titanic is the first major shipwreck in international waters
    to receive such close scrutiny.

    "You have a domestic court and now the branches of government working
    together to make sure the wreck itself continues to be available in the
    future for the public good," he said.

    International protections have been sought for the Titanic almost since the
    wreck was discovered. Ballard, who led the team that found the ship, told a
    congressional hearing in October 1985:

    "Titanic is like a great pyramid which has been found and mankind is about
    to enter it for the first time since it was sealed. Has he come to plunder
    or appreciate? The people of the world clearly want the latter."

    - AP



    Pirate Diver

    [/quote]

  7. #6

    Apr 2005
    863
    2 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    itmaiden,

    The ruling that RMS could manage the collection of artifacts, but does not own them, was made years ago by the court that ruled on the salvage claim, so it is not a new idea, and has not been adopted in many other cases. It has come up again now because RMS Titanic has applied for a change in the ruling, so that they can be given ownership of the artifacts, and then sell them.

    Mariner

  8. #7
    us
    Sep 2007
    wakeman, ohio
    J.W.FISHERS pulse 8x
    1,658
    41 times
    Shipwrecks

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    how utterly stupid. the finder of the wreck should be the one who decides.
    them that dive will be the lucky ones !!

  9. #8

    Apr 2005
    863
    2 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    I've said it before. Don't confuse the law with logic or common sense.

    What I can't remember off the top of my head is why RMS Titanic ended up being the salvor in possession, and not Bob Ballard who actually found the wreck. I don't think he was part of that particular group. Maybe that was part of the reason why RMS Titanic was allowed to hold onto and manage the artifacts they had recovered, but not actually own them.

    Mariner



  10. #9
    us
    Mar 2006
    Florida
    1,264
    2 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Mariner... Ballard never arrested the Titanic, but someone else did. I think the present owners bought the rights to her.

  11. #10
    us
    monty

    Jan 2005
    Sand Springs, OK
    ACE 250, Garrett
    10,748
    74 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Banner Finds (1)

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Yes, let's keep everything hidden on the bottom so no one will ever be able to appreciate it. Same thing with detected artifacts. Leave 'em in the ground to rot so no one will ever be able to benifit from them. BS! M nty
    Don't make me loose the hounds! If you dig, Cover up your holes.

  12. #11

    Apr 2005
    863
    2 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Thanks Jeff,

    I found this quote from Ballard, after he had gone back and conducted a second, more detailed examination of the site:

    "It is quiet and peaceful, and a fitting place for the remains of this greatest of sea tragedies to rest. May it forever remain this way, and may God bless these new-found souls."

    I guess that is why he never applied for the salvage rights, which would have given him the right not to salvage, and to let the wreck remain as he thjought it should. Ironic.

    Mariner

  13. #12
    us
    Sep 2004
    Kingman AZ
    385
    32 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    If my questions have already been answered please let me know . I have 2 things that confuse me . 1) Was there an insurance company ? If so I would think that they own it . 2) Why is a judge here hearing evidence of something that is even in the courts word in international waters . This should be (barring the answer to my question #1) discussed in The Hague .
    TOM
    KINGMAN LODGE #22 F&AM KINGMAN, ARIZONA
    NRA
    LDMA
    U.S. PARATROOPER

  14. #13

    Apr 2005
    863
    2 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    paratrooper,

    Almost any federal court can assume authority for a wreck in International Waters. I don't think that the country even needs to have formally adopted the International Laws of the Sea International Treaties, though I am not certain about this.

    I can't remember if there was an Insurance company that had paid out on the Titanic.

    Mariner

  15. #14
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
    callahan,fl
    delta 4000 / ace 250 - used BH and many others too
    14,260
    630 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    ballard did not want to own / salvage the wreck --merely find and film it --he then wanted it to rest in peace -- however others later on "arrested" the wreck --- salvaging items from it and putting the items taken off of it in -- a traveling public " dog and pony" show type exhibit for the public to draw folks to measuems - that pay for them set up the disply with them.

    this is an attempt via the courts to force the folks that salvaged the items to "keep the collection" together and force them not to sell it off bit by bit to "private" collectors ( where they could make alot of cash but which would in effect destroy the "collection"( thus forcing them to sell it intact to some measuem --where due to limited numbers of bidders and the size of it --the "overall price" would be less)

    its the courts stepping in and saying what you can or can not do with items that you "legally" salvaged in international waters and as such its bad news for salvors --since it in effect limits who you can sell what you found to . ( ie --read it as saying ---- major important finds MUST be sold "intact" to measuems to "preserve" their historical importantace )

  16. #15

    Apr 2005
    863
    2 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Ivan,

    I think you are wrong. The original decision was that RMS Titanic could display the items, but did not own them. The present discussion arises because RMS said it needed to sell some of them in order to survive, and asked the court to change its original ruling. The court is reviewing their request. This has no effect whatsover on decisions reached in other salvages cases, and in no way sets a prescedent. Also, as the decision was made several years ago, it is clear that it did not have any effect on subsequent salvage judgments. I can't think of another case where the court placed restrictions on artefacts awardrd to the salvor in possession, except where they had to hand over a proportion to the authority granting the salvage rights.

    Mariner

  17. #16
    us
    da book worm--researcher

    Feb 2007
    callahan,fl
    delta 4000 / ace 250 - used BH and many others too
    14,260
    630 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    question if they legally salvaged them -- why did they NOT own them? --- if not legally salvaged their "looted items" -- theres no in between ---- if they legally salvaged by them --they should in effect own them which is normal with salvaged items right ? and if they legally owed them why could they NOT sell whatever ,whenever to whomever they choose to?

    while I can understand and think it noble to try to keep the "collection intact" -- exactly whos "collection" is it after all.? there must be an "owner" -- after all everything of this nature is owned by somebody --be it insurance company -- salvor --- country of origin --somebody . and sad but true --its the "owners" choice what to do with it.

  18. #17

    Apr 2005
    863
    2 times

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Ivan,

    I'm stretching my memory now (and really should go back and read the original transcipt of the admiralty hearing) but I think that RMS Titanic actually only asked for the right to hold onto and display the artefacts they had recovered, and the court gave them what they asked for. Maybe they thought it too controversial to ask for ownership of the artifacts, especially as it was well documented that they had not been the people who actually discovered the wreck. When I get a chance, I will check my records, and will let you know if I am wrong.

    It illustrates, however, the principle that when you apply for salvage rights, you ask the court to arrest the ship, and then the court, having done so and taken control of the wreck, rewards the salvor in a way that it considers appropriate. There are no rules that say that the salvor has to be given ownership of the artifacts or the wreck.

    Mariner

  19. #18

    Oct 2006
    Coastal, NC
    Garrett Infinium LS, Garret Seahunter MK II, Geometrics 882, Marine Sonic SS
    1,326
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: TITANIC MISTAKE

    Mariner,
    I think your correct on the legal background. One has to remember this was new turf back then, it was likely assumed the private sector would not be able to do much if anything that deep, or want to. Few governments could work that deep, very few private sector assets could. It is still a very expensive and difficult endeavor today. The deep ocean work community is a very small one. Silvercop - Odyssey's not a member so you can rest better tonight.

    Ballard never sought an Arrest. IFREMER worked the site with the Nadir & Nautille after Ballard left; they recovered over 1500 "research" artefacts. That was also the group that also tried to raise a large section of bulkhead or hull plating. I'm assuming that was the beginning of the collection as it's known? Or is there another?

    I think having to sell the collection is an unfortunate thing to do at this point. I do find it rather hard to believe that no other interested parties have ever come forward; believe me, they exist. If the ownership of the artifacts legally transfers, there will be a line at the courthouse of people wanting theirs. Can they not just sell their in rem interest, or substitute it somehow?
    www.coastalmarinesalvage.com

 

 

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