Controversial plans to salvage the Marconi wireless set from the Titanic wreck this summer have had to be shelved by the salvage-rights holder RMS Titanic Inc.
In a statement RMST blamed its change of plans on the coronavirus pandemic and “increasing difficulty associated with international travel and logistics, and the associated health risks to the expedition team”.
However, it was well-known that the company had been having difficulties raising funds for the mission, at a time when the pandemic was severely affecting income from its artefact exhibitions around the USA.
It had already failed to present a business plan as directed by the US district court that had given provisional permission for the venture, and had been given until 29 January to put it together – which it proved unable to do.
Last July RMST had unveiled its “rescue expedition” to use an ROV to cut into the Titanic’s radio compartment on the top deck and extract the equipment. The plan was to exhibit its prize alongside the 5500 other artefacts already salvaged from the wreck site in previous years.
Although claimed to be a non-intrusive removal from a wreck already doomed to collapse, the plan had been challenged by the USA’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.Along with conservationist groups, NOAA had argued that the move would physically alter the Titanic, and undermine efforts to preserve other shipwrecks currently at risk from looters around the world.