The Titanic was traveling from England to New York when it struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. The large and luxurious ocean liner sent out distress signals using the relatively new Marconi wireless radio system.
The messages were picked up by other ships and onshore receiving stations. They included: “We require immediate assistance” … “Have struck iceberg and sinking” … “We are putting women off in boats.”
The ship sank in less than three hours, with the loss of all but 700 of the 2,208 passengers and crew.
An international team led by oceanographer Robert Ballard located the wreckage in 1985 on the North Atlantic seabed.
RMS Titanic Inc., oversees a collection of thousands of items recovered from the site over the years.
The company has argued that time is running out to retrieve the telegraph machine. It has been referred to as “the voice” of the Titanic, which also delivered the ship’s last words.
The device is located in a room on the ship’s deck. A gymnasium on the other side of the grand staircase has already collapsed. The roof above the telegraph machine has begun to perforate.
“I’m not sure if we go in 2020 that the roof won’t be collapsed on everything,” testified Paul Henry Nargeolet, director of the company’s underwater research program.
The company is already facing resistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which represents the public’s interest in the wreck site.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia represents NOAA. Its attorneys argued in court documents that the proposed retrieval runs contrary to prior court orders that prohibit the firm from cutting holes or taking items from the wreck.
The items that the firm has salvaged came from a debris field outside the ship.
Karen Kamuda, president of the Massachusetts-based Titanic Historical Society, Inc., told stated in an email that the society “has been against disturbing the wreck since 1985 because it is a gravesite.”