Norfolk, Virginia – A rescue firm may remove a Titanic telegraph machine from the sea, a federal judge in Virginia ruled.
In an order released Monday, Judge Rebecca Beach Smith stated that the telegraph is of historical and cultural significance and that it is best to try to get it back before it can be lost in the wreck.
Smith wrote that the telegraph “will contribute to the legacy left behind by the loss of the Titanic, those who survived and those who lost their lives in the wreck.”RELATED
Smith is the maritime lawyer who presides over the Titanic’s rescue affairs from federal court in Norfolk, Virginia. His decision modifies a previous order from 2000 that prohibits cutting the boat or removing parts.
Smith’s order is a major victory for RMS Titanic Inc., assigned by the court as administrator of the Titanic’s antiquities. The firm recently emerged from bankruptcy and has new owners.
The Titanic was traveling from England to New York when it collided with an iceberg and sank in 1912 with 2,208 people on board, of which only 700 survived.
The National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which represents the interests of American citizens at the wreck site, strongly opposes the mission. NOAA argued in court that the telegraph “is almost certainly surrounded by the remains of more than 1,500 people” and that it should be left where it is.
The company said it plans to display the ship’s telegraph along with stories of the men who sent distress calls to other ships “until the seawater was at their feet.”
“The brief transmissions sent between the telegraph operators of those ships, staccato bursts of information and emotion, tell the story of the Titanic’s desperate fate that night: confusion, chaos, panic, futility, and fear,” he wrote. the company in court documents,
The proposed expedition has also been controversial among archaeologists and preservation experts, and the firm could face more legal battles before rescue vehicles can descend nearly 4 kilometers to the bottom of the North Atlantic.
NOAA says the expedition is prohibited by federal law and an agreement between the United States and Great Britain. Those restrictions emerged in the years after the 2000 court order.
In his ruling, Smith acknowledges NOAA’s arguments, but said the only issue before the court was the order made by the judge before it preceded it.