RMS Titanic—salvaging rights may be up for grabs as company declares bankruptcy
In 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank on its Maiden Voyage from England, resulting in the death of more than 1,500 of its 2,224 passengers. The sunken ship laid undisturbed on the ocean floor until 1985, when it was located by divers from a Franco-American expedition. Numerous artifacts have since been recovered from the Titanic, many by the firm RMS Titanic Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc., which sponsors exhibits around the world and a permanent display in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Protection of Underwater Heritage, which covers all sites containing evidence of human existence that have been under water for more than 100 years. The Convention went into effect in 2009 after a sufficient number of state parties became signatories to it. The Convention is particularly important for sites such as the sunken Titanic that lie in international waters. More so now that Premier Exhibitions Inc. has declared bankruptcy and is auctioning thousands of artifacts in its possession, leading some to fear the underwater site may be looted, given its remote location is difficult to guard or monitor. (Photo of the RMS Titanic in 1912 is in the public domain.)
By Peter Walker
July 3, 2017