Explorers can take Titanic’s Marconi telegraph, cutting into wreck for first time

01:05, Thursday, 21 May, 2020
Explorers can take Titanic’s Marconi telegraph, cutting into wreck for first time

For the first time in the 108 years since the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean, causing the deaths of more than 1,500 people, explorers are set to cut into the ship and remove a piece.
     Their target is the wireless Marconi telegraph, one of the first of its kind, which the doomed ocean liner used to contact a nearby ship for aid.
     A federal judge in Virginia approved the expedition Monday, calling it “a unique opportunity to recover an artifact that will contribute to the legacy left by the indelible loss of the Titanic.”
     Because of a backlog of personal messages, the wireless operators had ignored ice warnings from other ships. Banal good wishes soon gave way to increasingly desperate calls for help. Operator Jack Phillips died after refusing to leave his flooded post.
     “He was a brave man,” his fellow wireless operator told the New York Times a few days later. “I will never live to forget the work of Phillips for the last awful 15 minutes.”The company R.M.S. Titanic (RMST) still must get a funding plan approved by the court, a prospect made more complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. It plans to launch the expedition this summer, using underwater robots to carefully detach the Marconi and its components from the ship.
     “If recovered, it is conceivable that it could be restored to operable condition,” RMST said in one filing. “Titanic’s radio — Titanic’s voice — could once again be heard, now and forever.”
     The recovery project has been vociferously opposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose representatives argued in court that the Titanic, sunk about 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, should be respected as a grave rather than mined as a museum supply.
     At its heart, the years-long legal dispute is an emotional one. Who can claim the Titanic? Should the public have the right to see as many of its treasures as possible, from the comfort of a Las Vegas casino or a Florida interactive museum? Or should the remains of the victims be left in peace, their effects seen only by scientists underwater?“Titanic has always been a singular case of passionate, strongly held opinions,” said maritime archaeologist James Delgado, who helped map the ship on a 2010 expedition. “For some it’s a memorial, for some it’s a historic site, for some it’s where a family member died. For others it’s an ultimate tourist destination, and for others it’s a business opportunity. How you balance all of that is very difficult.”

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