RMS Titanic Inc. has been legally cleared to retrieve an iconic piece of equipment from the wreckage of the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic–the wireless telegraph. The ship’s radio operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, were the contracted employees aboard the Titanic for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. These young men sent and received radio messages–sent in morse code– for the ship’s passengers, and they also relayed messages from other ships to the Titanic‘s commanding officers about the dangerous ice conditions that lay in the ship’s path.
On the night of April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. The Marconi operators, at the captain’s order, began sending out distress signals shortly after the collision. According to Harold Bride, the only surviving radio operator, the men remained at their post until about 2:10 am — 10 minutes before Titanic is said to have gone down. Their heroic effort to call for help saved the 706 people in the lifeboats.
The wreckage deteriorates faster with each passing year, and the chance to retrieve the wireless radio equipment is slipping away. The salvage company argues that this is a chance to retrieve and “re-engage with Titanic,” to teach people how a small piece of machinery saved lives. The salvage company has also mentioned getting the radio working again to give people the opportunity to hear the ship’s “voice” again.
NOAA argues the telegraph is likely surrounded “by the mortal remains of more than 1,500 people” and should be left alone.
What do you think? Should this iconic piece of Titanic history be left on the ocean floor, or should this attempt be made to save the wireless system that saved lives that night?