British politician slams plans to slice open the Titanic as PIRACY

Furious row erupts over plans to ‘salvage’ Titanic’s hidden treasures: MPs accuse US firm of ‘modern day piracy’ and attempting to ‘pilfer and pillage’ wreck for financial gain

  • A treaty between the UK and US was signed this week designed to protect the Titanic from exploitation 
  • But a US firm with sole salvage rights has vowed to ignore the treaty as it ‘can not be enforced in law’  
  • It has revealed a plan to slice open the roof and extract the radio that gave out the Titanic’s final distress signal
  • Gavin Robinson, DUP MP for Belfast East likened the firm to pirates and accused them of ‘pillaging and pilfering the wreck’ 

A British politician has slammed plans to cut open the hull of the Titanic and salvage its Marconi wireless radio in defiance of a new landmark treaty between the US and UK to protect the iconic shipwreck.  

Gavin Robinson, DUP MP for Belfast East, where the Titanic was built, deplored the plan outlined by American firm RMS Titanic Inc to salvage artefacts from the Titanic and put them on display in Las Vegas.

Mr Robinson likened the company to sea-faring bandits, and said the mission is little more than an attempt to ‘pilfer and pillage’ the wreck. 

Currently, RMS Titanic owns the sole salvage rights to the Titanic, after being awarded them 30 years ago. 

But UK Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani announced on Tuesday that a new treaty will ensure the historic wreck is treated with the ‘sensitivity and respect’ the Titanic and her passengers deserve. 

The ‘momentous’ treaty will give both the US and UK the power to grant or deny licences to companies to enter the remains and remove artefacts found outside the hull.

RMS Titanic lashed out at the ground-breaking agreement and said it plans to ignore it because it has ‘no teeth’ and can not be enforced in US law. 

It has already hatched a plan to ‘surgically remove’ a roof to get to the radio that gave out the Titanic’s final distress signal on April 15, 1912. 

Scroll down for video

The wreck of the Titanic will be protected for the first time following a ‘momentous’ treaty which will restrict exploration of the sunken vessel’s decaying hull, pictured

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time

The tragic wireless operator who stayed behind to tap for help

Senior operator Jack Phillips died when the Titainic sank on April 15, 1912

Senior operator Jack Phillips kept tapping his equipment as the ship sank beneath the waves – despite Captain Edward Smith having abandoned his post. 

Phillips refused to give up, only accepting defeat when the power cut out.

He died when the ship sank on April 15, 1912.

The Marconi wireless he used, which was a world-leading device at the time, is hoping to be recovered by RMS Titanic Inc.

If the US company succeed, it would be the most notable piece ever salvaged from the wreck.

When the liner hit the iceberg, the wireless sent out ‘come at once’, which was received by RMS Carpathia.

The second ship travelled 67 miles to save 700 people.  

A search of the wreckage in 2000 revealed the wireless was in one piece, despite being rusted.

Tragically, it remained in the reset position after Phillips attempted to boost the signal before Titanic went under.

Mr Robinson told The Telegraph: ‘I think it’s important that we get behind government and make sure that there are robust efforts in place that would frustrate the efforts of those who want to simply profiteer.

‘The idea that a vested connection would warrant pilfering and pillaging what is essentially a tomb to the sacrifice to those who were aboard Titanic, I think it’s entirely misguided.

‘If the detail of this agreement is not sufficiently robust to frustrate their efforts, I think that’s where we need to place our attention now.’ 

RMS Titanic Inc, backed by Private Equity firms, wants to use three underwater robots to lift part of the ceiling to grab the Marconi wireless.

A document seen by the Daily Telegraph said: ‘In the next few years the overhead is expected to collapse, potentiality burying forever the remains of the world’s most famous radio.’

RMS Titanic claims it wishes to preserve the relics on the wreck before they are lost forever. 

It has been in contact with relatives of the souls who lost their lives on-board that fateful night and has received blessings for the salvage mission. 

Vanessa Beecham, 59, is the great-niece of Edward Biggs who perished aged 21 on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. 

She told The Telegraph: ‘If the wireless can be retrieved in a sensitive way, then they have my blessing’. 

The United States District Court in Eastern Virginia received court documents this week from the RMS Titanic revealing the company’s intent. 

They read: ‘Without the recovery and conservation of these artifacts, the ability experience additional items would be limited to less than 150 people, an elite group who have the privilege and means to travel to the wreck site.

‘The Company places the highest value of ensuring that any recovery is completed in a respectful and judicious manner taking into account the sensitivities of such actions.’

The same firm was involved in the successful salvage mission of the Mary Rose, which went on display in 2013 and attracted over 1.8 million visitors in that time. 

It is thought the company wishes to showcase the Titanic’s artefacts at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas before embarking on a global tour.    

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912. Pictured, the Titanic’s grand staircase, as depicted in an illustration of the time

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time. Pictured, the Titanic undergoes sea trials

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912. Pictured, the Titanic’s pool

The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland (pictured) where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board the Titanic

A reproduction of the Marconi Radio Room, from the Titanic, at the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. A plan is being hatched to ‘surgically remove’ a roof to get to the radio that gave out the Titanic’s final distress signal.

The doomed luxury liner sank on April 15, 1912 after a collision with an iceberg and now lies on the seafloor around 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

The wreck sank in two pieces and has long been deteriorating due to corrosion, biological activity and deep ocean currents.

But it is believed the various expeditions down to the Titanic — including those led by film director James Cameron — have further damaged the vessel.

In addition, private expeditions have removed artefacts of archaeological significance from the wreck and its surroundings.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the hull and structure of the ship is likely to collapse within the next 40 years.

RMS TITANIC: SPECIFICATIONS

Pictured, the Titanic in Southampton

Length: 882 ft 9 in 

Width: 92 ft 6 in (beam)

Tonnage: 46,328 GRT

Decks: 9

Boilers: 24 

Engines:

Power: 46,000 HP

Max speed: 24 knots 

Cost: £1.5 million (£140 m in 2016)

Capacity: 2,435 + 892 crew

Facilities: Included a pool, Turkish baths, kennels and post office

The wreckage — which lies some 12,500ft beneath the ocean’s surface — had previously been afforded a ‘basic level of protection’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

But its resting place in international waters had meant it was not previously covered by explicit legislation.

The new agreement protecting the sunken vessel was signed by the US in 2003, but has only just come into force following its ratification by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in November 2019. 

‘Lying two and a half miles below the ocean surface, the RMS Titanic is the subject of the most documented maritime tragedy in history,’ said Ms Ghani. 

‘This momentous agreement with the United States to preserve the wreck means it will be treated with the sensitivity and respect owed to the final resting place of more than 1,500 lives.’

‘The UK will now work closely with other North Atlantic states to bring even more protection to the wreck of the Titanic.’

Both Canada and France were involved in the negotiations of the new treaty, but have yet to sign the agreement.

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time.

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912.

The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board the Titanic.

Nearly five days into her voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel’s starboard hull, believed to have occurred as a result of the rivets in the hull snapping. 

Nearly five days into her voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel’s starboard hull, believed to have occurred as a result of the rivets in the hull snapping. Pictured, the iceberg believed to have sunk the Titanic

The Titanic took on water some fifteen times faster than could be pumped out, with the hull damage too extensive for the vessel’s watertight bulkheads (pictured, with the damage in green) to keep the flooding from spreading across the compartmentalised lower decks

After around two-and-a-half hours, the vessel broke into two sections and sank, each settling to the seafloor around a third of a mile apart. Around 1,500 people were believed lost in the tragedy, including around 815 of the liner’s passengers

The Titanic took on water some fifteen times faster than could be pumped out, with the hull damage proving too extensive for the vessel’s watertight bulkheads to keep the flooding from spreading across the liner’s compartmentalised lower decks. 

THE TITANIC DISASTER TIMELINE

Ned Parfett, the ‘Titanic paperboy’, outside of the White Star Line offices in London

April 10, 1912 (12:00): 

The Titanic sets sail from Southampton to New York, calling at Cherbourg and Cork en route.

April 14 (09:00–22.30, ship’s time): 

Marconi Company radio officers on the Titanic received a total of six warnings of ice in the vicinity, not all of which were passed on to the crew.

April 14 (23:39):

Lookout Frederick Fleet, in the crow’s nest, spots an iceberg dead ahead of the ship. Turning to port, the vessel managed to avoid a direct collision, but suffered a ‘glancing blow’ instead.

April 15 (00:05):

Captain Edward Smith orders abandon ship and has radio operators issue distress signals.

April 15 (02:05):

The Titanic’s final lifeboat is launched. Ten minutes later, the liner’s angle in the water increased rapidly, ultimately reaching over 30 degrees, as water reached previously unflooded parts of the ship through deck hatches.

April 15 (02:20): 

The Titanic finally disappeared beneath the waves, some two hours and forty minutes after striking the iceberg.  

After around two-and-a-half hours, the vessel broke into two sections and sank, each settling to the seafloor around a third of a mile apart.

Around 1,500 people were believed lost in the tragedy, including around 815 of the liner’s passengers. 

The Titanic disaster prompted the drawing up of the Safety of Lives at Sea convention in 1914, which today still sets the minimum safety requirements to which all ships are required to comply.

While the stern of the sunken vessel was ruined, much of the bow — despite impact damage and deterioration — remained recognisable when the wreck was finally discovered on the seafloor by US underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard in 1985.

RMS Titanic has released new 3D composites of both the starboard and port side as it decays on the Atlantic Ocean floor.  

Since then, dozens of expeditions to the wreck to observe the ship and recover artefacts have been carried out — with experts being concerned this activity is causing the Titanic to decay far faster than she otherwise would. 

The landing of craft on the wreck has caused substantial deterioration to the promenade deck, with some of the more significant damage caused by the Cameron expedition, during which a submersible collided with the Titanic’s hull.

To mark the signing of the treaty with the US, Ms Ghani will be visiting the 1851 Trust Maritime Roadshow for Girls in Belfast on January 21, 2020.

The travelling event — which is to be temporarily held at the Port Harbour Office — aims to inspire girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, which are vital in the maritime sector.

On the treaty, visitor attraction Titanic Belfast’s CEO Judith Owens said: ‘We welcome any additional protection and safeguarding of the wreck, in line with the views of our strategic partner Dr Robert Ballard, who discovered her in 1985.’

While the stern of the sunken vessel was ruined, much of the bow (above) — despite impact damage and deterioration — remained recognisable when the wreck was finally discovered on the seafloor by US underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard in 1985

After taking on water, the Titanic broke into two sections and sank, settling to the seafloor around a third of a mile apart. Pictured, sonar images of the Titanic’s stern

After taking on water, the Titanic broke into two sections and sank, settling to the seafloor around a third of a mile apart. Pictured, sonar images of the Titanic wreck. The intact bow can be seen near the top of the image, while the severely damaged stern lies at the bottom

The state of the wreck — which sank in two pieces — has long been deteriorating as a product of corrosion, biological activity and deep ocean currents. However, it is believed that the various expeditions down to the Titanic — including those led by director James Cameron — have further damaged the vessel. Pictured, the remains of Captain Edward Smith’s bathroom

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the hull and structure of the ship is likely to collapse within the next 40 years. Pictured, rusticles grow on the wreck

The Titanic — which sank on April 15, 1912, after a collision with an iceberg — lies on the seafloor around 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board

Source: Read Full Article