The Titanic: Salvage or Not?

It was a chilly April night on the Atlantic. The waters were calm and the cold nipped at the noses of those bold enough to remain outside as the passengers surrendered themselves to a night's sleep, the entire world around them seeming to be winding down. Any possible tragedy is the last thing on anyone's minds, but lookouts are posted anyways, just as a precaution, because it's not like the Titanic can sink anyway. Then it happened: a tremor that shook the ship almost unnoticeably, awaking some passengers. As they gradually awakened and filed onto the deck and into the lifeboats, they had no idea of the tragedy awaiting them until it was far too late for anything to be done and panic expunged all rational thought from their minds. The Titanic sunk on April 14th, 1912, after hitting an iceberg and ripping open the first five compartments, sealing the grisly fate of those on board. Then, after 73 years, Dr. Robert Ballard discovered the wreckage and people immediately began going down to the site and returning the belongings of those who died so long ago on that night to the surface, in a way giving them a chance to see the world again. There has been a huge controversy over whether or not they should be allowed to salvage the priceless artifacts from the ruins or if they should be forced to leave them be at the bottom of the ocean. There are understandable and agreeable arguments presented by both sides, and this is definitely not a black and white situation, but what people have to realize is the benefits of resurfacing these relics not only for the sheer value of them, but for the knowledge that they carry with them.

There are only a handful of things that can give us information on the people that were on that ship; survivor descriptions, knowledge of classes, and relics that have already been recovered from the site. By resurfacing their old belongings, we can learn even more about the people that were on the ship. Learning about the lives of the victims of this tragedy would give us an even stronger connection to them instead of just an empty link to an empty name like in a history textbook. Retrieving the objects from the wreckage would also help to preserve the legend of the Titanic and its passengers instead of letting its ghost evaporate from history.

Due to the forces of Mother Nature, the Titanic is already beginning to disintegrate. The water is breaking down the wood, different forms of decomposing sea life are eating away at the steel, and the iron is rusting away. Wouldn't it make more sense to rescue the priceless artifacts from the bottom of the ocean and restore them to their former glory than to leave them there to crumble and be forgotten? Salvaging things from the wreck site doesn't make someone a grave robber as some like to suggest, especially since nobody knows who it belongs to and it is in such a position that the well-being of the items is at stake. Think of it this way; the objects at the underwater wreck site are like a basket full of 24 karat diamonds. These diamonds belonged to a very rich lady who died in a plane crash at that very spot about 70 years ago. The basket, though, is located at the edge of a collapsing cliff that leads straight into a never ending abyss. If the diamonds are left there, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that they will fall and be lost forever. Most people would run to the edge of the cliff without second thought and rescue the precious jewels before they were lost for all time. What would make the Titanic so different? The ship sank, taking all of its valuables with it. If they are left down there, Mother Nature will do its work and destroy everything down there in due time, so not much preservation would be done by leaving it alone. So why shouldn't we bring them up and preserve history instead of allowing it to be washed away?

Over the years, stories and myths have piled up over our heads and have grown to nearly suffocate us, making it difficult to decipher what is fact and what is fiction. We found out how the Titanic sank, but we still do not have the clearest idea of what happened when it sank. Eyewitness testimony is not always the most reliable source of information, especially since it was such a great disaster and people's minds tend to over exaggerate things or blot the tragedies out. Not to mention the countless people who claim to have been reincarnated from the fatalities of the collision telling stories of their own. So, by collecting things from the wreck site, we can have a better idea of what happened while the ship sank. Did people write letters to their loved ones? Diaries and other things could increase our what knowledge once we bring them up.

Unquestionably, there is a lot of benefit that could be received by rescuing the items on this ship. The ghosts of her unfortunate passengers could see the light of day again through their resurfaced belongings, connecting with people on a more intimate level than watching a documentary or reading a book. Everything down at the site would eventually rust away and be destroyed, so bringing as many things back up as we can would preserve history far longer than leaving it underwater. The information that could be discovered about what exactly happened on that fateful April night would be astounding. Everyone can agree that the tragedy on the Titanic, felled by her own hubris, should never be forgotten, so why shouldn't we remember it in the best way possible; raising her back to the surface.