R.M.S Titanic - International Agreement


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Titianic Railing

Photo 51: Starboard railing.
(NOAA Photo Library.)

The "Agreement Concerning the Shipwrecked Vessel R.M.S. Titanic"(International Agreement) stems from the recommendation made by the United States Congress in the R.M.S. Titanic Maritime Memorial Act of 1986 (1986 Act) to address activities in and around R.M.S. Titanic and increase protection of the wreck site. The International Agreement’ objectives are to preserve the unique historical significance and symbolic value of the R.M.S. Titanic site and calls for keeping intact as a single collection any subsequently retrieved artifacts and the regulation of dives and visits to the site to avoid further damage to it.  In situ preservation of the site is preferred particularly for the two large hull portions with recovery or salvage limited to the artifacts outside of the two large hull portions..  

For the International Agreement to take effect, at least two countries must ratify it. The United Kingdom ratified the Agreement on November 6, 2003, implementing it through Order 2003 No. 2496, which comes into force on the date on which the International Agreement enters into force in respect of the United Kingdom. The United States signed the Agreement on June 18, 2004, subject to acceptance following the enactment of implementing legislation.

The Federal Admiralty Court sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia t has consistently respected the 1986 Act, NOAA Guidelines and the Agreement in its Titanic orders. In particular, the covenants and conditions specifically require that the collection of artifacts be “managed according to the professional standards recognized in the NOAA Guidelines, the International Agreement and the Annexed Rules, and the federal regulations governing the curation of the federally owned and administered archaeological collections.”  Titanic 2010, 742 F. Supp. 2d 784, 792 (quoting R.M.S. Titanic, Inc. v. The Wrecked & Abandoned Vessel, No. 2:93cv902, at 6 n.12 (E.D. Va. Apr. 15, 2008)). 

Additional reference information:

Last updated July 2, 2018