Safeguarding the Titanic Resting Place
Last month the US and the UK finalized an agreement first signed in 2003 that aims to help protect to the integrity of the RMS Titanic wreck site and its remaining artifacts.
Recognizing the importance of the wreck and the need to ensure the vessel would not be subject to looting and unregulated salvage operations, the US Congress adopted the RMS Titanic Maritime Memorial Act. That legislation also provided for NOAA and the U.S. Department of State to negotiate an international agreement with interested nations to protect the site. As a result of that legislation, the US, the UK, France, and Canada negotiated an agreement that was signed in 2003.
In November this year, the US officially completed the acceptance process for the agreement and it is officially in force. The agreement furthers the ability of the US and the UK to minimize threats to the integrity of the Titanic wreck site and its remaining artifacts. It is intended to keep the artifacts together and intact in a manner allowing for public access. The US and the UK hope that other nations will join the agreement in order to broaden cooperative efforts to protect the Titanic.
On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic left Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York. With more than 2,200 passengers and crew members aboard, the vessel tragically became one of the world’s legendary shipwrecks.
The Titanic was one of the largest and most luxurious vessels of its time. At nearly 900 feet in length and displacing 52,000 tons, it was the pride of the White Star Line. On the evening of April 14, 1912, the ship collided with an iceberg and sank a few hours later, taking more than 1,500 passengers and crew to the icy depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
For decades, the wreck’s precise location was unknown until it was discovered in 1985, by a joint U.S.-French expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Institute and Jean-Louis Michel of the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea.