Amateur Radio News

Plans to Retrieve Titanic’s Marconi Wireless Radio Face Sinking Trajectory

In May of 2020, federal judge Rebecca Beach Smith ruled against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allowing salvage firm RMS Titanic, Inc. (RMST) the rights to retrieve the Titanic’s Marconi wireless telegraph from the underwater site many claim is a mass gravesite best left undisturbed. However, plans have recently hit a snag and, surprisingly, it is not objectors to the project who have sunk the excursion plan but the coronavirus pandemic—responsible, of course, for a far greater loss of life than the iconic ship.

On January 29, RMS Titanic, Inc. filed to indefinitely postpone radio equipment retrieval due to “increasing difficulty associated with international travel and logistics and the associated health risks to the expedition team,” according to their public court filing. While this may indeed have played a part, it is also likely the negative economic impact of virus-related restrictions on the RMS Titanic exhibit that serves as RMST’s primary source of revenue has also played a part in delaying the costly excursion.

The Marconi wireless radio at the hub of the controversy is the device Marconi Men in the Titanic’s radio room used in 1912 to signal for help after the Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. While more than 1,500 lives were lost in the incident, use of the Marconi radio to notify nearby ships of the plight of passengers in lifeboats is credited with saving nearly 700 lives. Lives most surely otherwise lost in the frigid conditions without immediate aid.

Once virus conditions improve, RMST will attempt to retrieve the Marconi device using an already-open skylight on the Titanic. If successful, it will be the first time an artifact has been removed from within the confines of the ship. A manned submarine will be used to reach the wreck more than two and a half miles beneath the surface, and a remote-controlled submarine will finish the task of entering the ship and retrieving the device.

RMST is adamant that the expedition remains a top-priority and will “take place as soon as reasonably practicable.”

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