|J. Pierpont Morgan|
|J. Bruce Ismay|
With the passing of the 100th. Anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 2012 the status of this wrecked vessel changed under International Maritime Law and United Nations Rules.
Senator John Kerry of the United States has proposed that the wreck be declared a nautical grave site. As such she would be protected from further desecration by diving expeditions and the removal of artifacts.
At present a company named RMS Titanic, Inc. has the sole "right" to salvage items from the vessel. This "right" was awarded by a U.S. Federal Judge and is legally in doubt since that Judge had no jurisdiction to do so in the first place. The judgment is reviewed and renewed annually, but in fact it is a false judgement to begin with since neither the United States Federal or any other U.S. Court has jurisdiction the wrecked vessel being in International Waters.
The United Kingdom enacted the "Protection of Military Remains Act, 1986" and this applies to both ships and aircraft. It may be that Senator Kerry has this in mind and hopes to protect the vessel from further desecration by enacting something similar under United States Law. However this is rather self-defeating since the wrecked vessel is in International Waters.
The vessel was owned by J. Pierpont Morgan through his business holdings and thus the ownership is complicated. Morgan being an American was forbidden by Law to own a British vessel. So he found a loophole by purchasing the White Star Line with his company International Mercantile Marine. By that he acquired the British vessels owned in turn by White Star Line and appointed British businessman J. Bruce Ismay as Chairman of White Star Line who therefore became the legal owner of the White Star Line vessels one of which was the ill fated RMS Titanic.
Now with this ownership the status of the vessel (not at all unusual in the maritime world) has been in argument for years and the behaviour of RMS Titanic, Inc. never seriously challenged. With the passing of the 100th. Anniversary all is changed RMS Titanic, Inc. has no further "right" to remove any artifacts, which evidence has clearly shown includes human remains, from the site. Under International Law the wrecked vessel now qualifies for protection under UNESCO as a Heritage Site.
NAUTICAL LOG would therefore request U.S. Senator John Kerry and all others interested to protect the vessel from further desecration by working to have it declared a UNESCO Heritage Site Nautical Grave.
Firstly however this supposed "right" of RMS Titanic, Inc. to sole salvage must be formally declared null and void. There should be no further desecration by diving expedition, tourist trip or removal of artifacts from the vessel, leave her in peace to slowly vanish in a cloud of rust during her remaining years.
At this same time please remember that there are some 300 of our fellow seafarers held hostage by pirates off the coast of Puntland, Somalia. They face mutilation and death each hour of every day, month after month, year after year as some are now in their third year of captivity. How can the Maritime Authorities and Governments continue to ignore this?