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After Accident at the Titanic, Accusations Fly

A submersible hit the wreckage over the summer
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2020 9:21 AM CST
This image taken from video released by Atlantic Productions shows part of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic that lays about 3,800 meters below the surface of North Atlantic Ocean.   (Atlantic Productions via AP)

(Newser) – The wreck of the Titanic rests untouched—mostly. It turns out a two-person submersible vehicle collided with the sunken ship months ago, and the US salvage company that has rights to the wreck is alleging the government stayed mum on it, per legal papers seen by the Telegraph. The hit came during the first dives to the ship in 14 years, which were staged by EYOS Expeditions and took place between July 29 and Aug. 4. The expedition itself was publicized, but the collision was not. In a Jan. 7 court filing, EYOS said its $35 million submersible hit the wreckage after the pilot lost control of it in "intense and highly unpredictable currents." But EYOS expedition leader Rob McCallum described it as more of a tap than a slam, one that came as the submersible got near the wreckage out of necessity in order to "deposit two science samples."

The impact on the wreckage isn't known, though McCallum argues any damage would have been minimal as the submersible is "very delicate" and "essentially weightless" when underwater. Part of why this is all surfacing now: That salvage firm, RMS Titanic Inc., wants to take artifacts from inside the wreckage, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is tasked with protecting the site, is allergic to the idea. In a Tuesday court filing, RMST sought to paint NOAA as a poor caretaker, reports the Washington Post, noting it and EYOS "failed to inform RMST and the Court for nearly five months raises a series of troubling issues." But NOAA counters that there was an RMST observer on the surface ship who also knew of the collision. RMST says in its filing that its observer said he didn't inform them because he thought he couldn't due to a confidentiality agreement (with whom isn't clear).

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