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Firm: Let Us Retrieve Titanic's 'Voice' Before It's Too Late

RMS Titanic wants to pull out the Marconi Wireless Telegraph machine that sent out distress signals
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 21, 2020 10:55 AM CST

(Newser) – The salvage firm that has plucked silverware, china, and gold coins from the wreckage of the Titanic now wants to recover the Marconi Wireless Telegraph machine that transmitted the doomed ship's increasingly frantic distress calls. Lawyers for RMS Titanic Inc. called witnesses before a federal judge on Thursday to explain why the company should be allowed to possibly cut into the rapidly deteriorating ship to recover the device before it's irretrievable, per the AP. "It's one of those iconic artifacts, like the signal flares [that the sinking ship launched),” testified David Gallo, an oceanographer who is a paid consultant for the firm. Gallo, who testified in federal court in Norfolk, Va., said that salvaging the device would not be "grave robbery," but a way to connect people to the ship's legacy and honor its passengers.

When the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40pm on April 14, 1912, it sent out distress signals using the relatively new Marconi wireless radio system. The messages were picked up by other ships and onshore stations. They included: "We require immediate assistance," "Have struck iceberg and sinking," and "We are putting women off in boats." RMS Titanic has argued time is running out to retrieve the machine, located in a room on the ship's deck and referred to as "the voice" of the Titanic. The firm faces resistance from the NOAA, which represents the public's interest in the wreck site and has argued the proposed retrieval runs contrary to prior court orders that prohibit the firm from cutting holes or taking items from the wreck. US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith has scheduled another hearing before she will make a decision.

(Read more Titanic stories.)

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