The United States Government is planning to try to stop an organization based in Atlanta, RMS Titanic Inc., from retrieving a wireless telegraph machine in the Titanic shipwreck. The government claims it would “disturb the wreck” and disrespect those who lost their lives in the tragic accident. 

RMS Titanic Inc. would use the radio retrieved in exhibits in order to help tell the story of the those who sent out the sinking ship’s distress calls. In order to do this they would go through a deck house that is close to the ship’s grand staircase. However, this type of excavation could require a special underwater vehicle in order to cut through the material. 

The issue became a legal matter on June 8 when brought before a federal judge in Virginia. Not only would using an underwater vehicle require authorization from the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, but it would break a pact that the United States has with the U.K. to leave the infamous shipwreck undisturbed. According to government filings, the United States attorneys argued that doing this, “would physically alter or disturb the wreck.” 

The records explained that the reasoning behind the agreement between the United States and the U.K. was so that the Titanic would be remembered as, “a memorial to those men, women and children who perished and whose remains should be given appropriate respect.” 

However, in May, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith argued that the radio holds historical significance and could be important to retrieve as the shipwreck continues to rapidly deteriorate. She added that if the radio is salvaged, then the legacy of those who lost their lives on the ship could be maintained. 

The Titanic made history when its owners claimed it to be an “unsinkable” ship in 1912. However, as it was traveling from England to New York it cracked in half after it hit an iceberg. The sinking killed about 700 of the 2,208 passengers. The radios that RMS Titanic Inc. wishes to retrieve allowed passengers to make calls for help and ended up saving hundreds of lives.

The story of the Titanic became famous through the many museum exhibits, books and movies made after it. In 1997, the film Titanic was released, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.