Titanic Imaging Expedition on for May After US Opposition Artifact Retrival

Titanic continues to attract worldwide attention more than 100 years after she sank on her maiden voyage

Published Mar 1, 2024 4:50 PM by The Maritime Executive


RMS Titanic, the firm that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic shipwreck, is set to return to the site announcing that they have scheduled its next expedition for May 2024. The firm which is officially the salvor-in-possession of the famed ocean liner, says it intends to utilize the site visit to gather a detailed assessment of artifacts that can be targeted for future recovery. 

The company has organized eight previous dives to the Titanic and on seven of them has recovered a total of more than 5,500 artifacts. This however will be its first mission to the wreck site in 14 years and comes after several years of opposition and court cases led by the U.S. government. Between 1987 and 2010 the company regularly participated in dives to the site assembling its collection of artifacts which have been preserved and displayed at various locations around the world. 

This will also be the first dive to the Titanic since the 2023 expedition when the Titan submersible imploded during a mission to view the wreck of the Titanic in June last year. RMS Titanic says it aims to honor PH (Paul-Henri) Nargeolet, French deep-sea explorer and Titanic expert, who perished with four others last year. According to a company spokesperson, "In light of the OceanGate tragedy, the company revised its expedition plan shifting it to an imaging and research expedition using ROVs."

At the center of the previous objections by the U.S. was the company’s plan to use the expedition to access the Marconi room of the ship that played a crucial role as the vessel sank. The room contains the wireless telegraph equipment that sent possibly the first-ever SOS Morse code message. Not only detected by nearby vessels. the signal was relayed to the United States providing the first news of the tragedy. There were approximately 2,200 passengers and crew on the Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York when the ship hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic east of Nova Scotia, Canada. About 700 people were saved. In May 2020. a U.S. court gave RMS Titanic permission to proceed with the mission.

The U.S. took the company to court in 2020 and again in September 2023 arguing that the company must “obtain authorization from the Secretary of Commerce” before conducting “any research, exploration, salvage, or other activity that would physically alter or disturb the wreck or wreck site.” The U.S. cites an international treaty, but the company contends it does not require permission as the “salvor-in-possession.” The company said with the loss of expert PH Nargeolet, that it would not attempt to proceed with entering the Marconi room or retrieving additional artifacts during the 2024 mission.

“As a company, our mission is to preserve the legacy of Titanic, its passengers and crew for future generations,” said Jessica Sanders, President of RMST.

RMST is using its “exclusive stewardship of RMS Titanic” to proceed with the 2024 expedition. The company announced that it intends to utilize the latest imaging technology and remotely operated vehicles to capture detailed high-resolution images of the Titanic, as well as the broader wreck site and debris field. The mission they said will allow the firm to comprehensively analyze the current condition of the wreck site and to gather a detailed assessment of artifacts that can be “safely targeted for future recovery.”

“This monumental undertaking will allow us to document the Titanic in unprecedented detail and share new discoveries from the wreck site with the public,” said Sanders. RMST contends that the expedition and its research findings will also help grow educational and outreach resources that will help inspire the next generation of explorers.