What James Cameron wants to bring from Titanic | Albiseyler

What James Cameron wants to bring from Titanic

Ocean experts have long debated whether artifacts from the world’s most famous shipwreck should be retrieved for exhibits to help people better understand the Titanic tragedy, or whether they should be left intact in the depths of the sea as a memorial to the more than 1,500 people lost. their lives. James Cameron, known for his 1997 film “Titanic,” sees himself as negotiating the middle ground in this complicated and often emotional dispute.

Mr Cameron dived to the shipwreck 33 times between 1995 and 2005, giving him a window into its condition and likely fate. His view is timely as the United States government recently sought to gain control of the wreck, raising questions about whether the company that recovered more than 5500 artifacts will be allowed to collect more.

Mr Cameron’s views are also deeply personal. He often debated the finds with Paul-Henri Nargeolet, the French submariner who died in June while descending to the wreck of the Titanic. Mr. Nargeolet also directed underwater research for RMS Titanic Inc.a company that owns the exclusive rights to salvage the ship and its artifacts.

Mr. Cameron recently answered questions by email from The New York Times about his views on the recovery, the future of the Titanic and the Titan submarine. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Did you see any signs of natural decay during the 10 years of diving on the Titanic?

We saw significant deterioration in thin-walled structures such as the deckhouse (the highest deck above the ship’s deck) and the foremast. It was intact (in a fallen position) in 2001, but partially collapsed in 2005. New images of Magellan from 2022 show that it has completely collapsed and broken apart.

However, we did not see any significant damage to the vast majority of the wreck, such as the hull plates. Their steel is one and a half inches thick. I believe that the boards will stand for another two centuries.

What about visitor damage? Something obvious?

Based on my experience maneuvering around the wreck and landing on top of it, submarines don’t do anything important. Up top, the sub weighs a few tons, but down there, in order to fly around, it has to be neutrally buoyant, meaning it only touches a few kilos of force.

Besides, anything humans do is trivial compared to the inexorable deterioration caused by biological activity that goes on year after year. The Titanic is being eaten by living colonies of bacteria. They love it when people drop giant piles of steel into the deep ocean, which we do with some regularity, especially in wars. It’s a holiday for them.

On the Titanic artifacts, you describe yourself as a centrist among preservationists such as Robert D. Ballard and salvors such as Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who died on the Titan submarine in June. As?

On the one hand, I think it’s good to get artifacts from the debris field. When the Titanic broke in two on the surface, it became two large piñatas. Across the square miles we see plates and bottles of wine, suitcases, shoes—things that people carried around, touched, and wore.

This humanizes the story and reminds us that tragedy has a human face. So many artefacts have been found that poignantly connect us to this history – like the crow’s nest bell that ranger Frederick Fleet rang three times when he first saw the glacier. Now millions of museum visitors can see it with their own eyes. I even rang the bell myself. And there are so many examples of Titanic elegance – the fine china, the beaded chandeliers, the cherub statue from the Grand Staircase. It is the continued public interest in these things that keeps the history alive, now, 111 years after the sinking.

The gray area that leaves me torn is whether we should retrieve artifacts from inside the bow and stern. One case I find compelling is the restoration of the Marconi set. This wireless system sent an SOS signal that brought the rescue ship Carpathia to the exact coordinates of the Titanic and probably saved the lives of more than 700 people.

Titanic’s wireless set was unique, very different from others of its time. I’ve flown my tiny rc vehicles in to explore the Marconi rooms so we know where everything is and we’ve done computer reconstructions.

But exhibiting this instrument to the public would be very moving for millions of museum visitors. If it could be restored without damaging the exterior of the wreck I would be all for it as this area of ​​the ship is rapidly deteriorating and within a few years Marconi’s set will be buried deep in the ruins, irretrievable. .

So is there anything going on?

What I personally draw is changing the appearance of the wreck – for example raising its iconic bow (where Jack and Rose stood in the film) or removing the powerful anchors or removing the bronze telemotor from the bridge where Quartermaster Hitchens was frantically spinning the ship’s wings. the bike tries to avoid the glacier. All of these renewals have been discussed by someone at some point during the last quarter of a century. I think we shouldn’t take anything from the bow and stern that would disfigure them. They should stand as monuments to the tragedy.

You knew Mr. Nargeolet quite well. Did you have any disagreements with him and his company’s approach to artifact recovery?

He was a legendary sub-pilot and explorer and we spent many exciting hours going through our Titanic videos and comparing notes. He acquired many artifacts such as the crow’s nest bell that I find so moving in various exhibits around the world.

That said, I disagreed with him on some of his plans to restore things like bow anchors, although it was always a friendly discussion. I’m glad some of those plans never came to fruition.

Around 2017, you teamed up with Dr. Ballard and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, in an unsuccessful attempt to buy a collection of Titanic artefacts and move them to Belfast, where the ship was built. Why? And would you try again if RMS Titanic declared bankruptcy again?

Our fear at the time was that the collection might be bought by a wealthy private collector and disappear from the public eye. These artifacts belong to the world as part of our shared cultural heritage—our collective history—and artifacts help keep that history alive and tragedy tangible. But only if they can be seen and emotionally felt through public access. If the collection is threatened again, I hope to have a voice to make it publicly available.

How about the federal government’s recent efforts to gain control of the Titanic?

The Titanic lies in international waters. I’m sure this argument will go on forever.

Do you think the Titanic disaster will have an impact on Titanic visitors?

Do I believe this will stop people wanting to witness the Titanic in person? Definitely not. Human curiosity is a powerful force, and the desire to go and witness with one’s own eyes is very strong in some people, myself included.

However, citizen explorers need to be more discerning about who they dive with. Is the sub fully certified by a recognized authority? What is the safe operating record of a submarine company? These are the kinds of questions they need to ask themselves.

Would you dive again?

I would get into a submarine tomorrow – if it was certified, like Woods Hole Oceanographic’s legendary Alvin submarine or the submarines built by Triton Submarines. But there is no rush. The familiar image of the bow will be there, as it is, for at least another half century.

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