A salvage company in Atlanta wants to retrieve the telegraph machine from the Titanic, but is seeing interference from US attorneys.

This particular telegraph machine is a wireless radio telegraph, and the salvage company, RMS Titanic, Inc, says that they would like to retrieve the unit for public display. Historians credit the distress telegraphs that were sent to other vessels for saving 700+ lives when the Titanic went down.

Other than the shipwreck being 2.5 miles below the surface of the sea, limited visibility, unknown conditions of the vessel itself, and the exact location/condition of the telegraph machine, a law and a gentleman's agreement may be standing in the way of the retrieval.

There's a federal law that protects the Titanic, and there's a pact with Britain to treat the shipwreck as hallowed ground in honor of those who perished when she sank. According to the Associated Press, US attorneys are arguing that the company has to get permission from the Secretary of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is filing an injunction to stop the expedition.

I can see both sides of this issue: family members who don't want the remains of their loved ones disturbed, and historians who are hoping to preserve a piece of history.

If the salvage company can guarantee that they would not disrupt anything during their expedition, I think that the salvaged radio would be an interesting piece to view.

It now appears that the salvage company and NOAA will be battling this one out in a Virginia courtroom.

(Sciencemuseum.org)