U.S. government trying to block new Titanic expedition, calling wreck a hallowed gravesite

A planned expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic is facing opposition from the U.S. government, which cites a federal law and international agreement that designates the vessel as a sacred gravesite.

The government’s objection is reportedly unrelated to the tragedy involving the deadly Titan submersible implosion back in June, but is connected to a Georgia-based company that owns the salvage rights to the wreckage.

RMS Titanic Inc. — a company which puts on exhibitions of various artifacts from the famed shipwreck, including silverware and fragments of the Titanic’s hull — has had an expedition planned for May 2024.

“RMST is not free to disregard this validly enacted federal law, yet that is its stated intent,” U.S. lawyers said in court documents from Friday.

Attorneys also claim the shipwreck “will be deprived of the protections Congress granted it.”

Lawyers pointed to legislation enacted in 2020, in tandem with the U.K. government, which restricts people from entering the hull sections and removing artifacts from outside the hull of the Titanic.

The proceedings unfolded in the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, where officials reiterated the idea that the 1912 wreck, in which over 1,500 people died, should be kept as a memorial to their memory.

Among the government’s key concerns are potential disruptions to historical artifacts and disturbances to human remains which could still exist.

According to RMST, the company only wants to recover artifacts which are “free-standing objects inside the wreck ... but only if such objects are not affixed to the wreck itself.”

RMST also has plans to take images of the entire wreck using remote technology, and claims that “at this time, the company does not intend to cut into the wreck or detach any part of the wreck,” they elaborated.

The company was engaged with the U.S. government in a similar legal battle in 2020, regarding a proposed expedition, but the proceedings were cut short due to the pandemic.

With News Wire Services