TITANIC-TITANIC.com | Titanic Salvage
Once Titanic had been discovered, and the location of the wreck became public knowledge, it would surely only be a matter of time before an attempt would be made to salvage the wreck of Titanic , and that's exactly what happened. A collective of companies and partners formed Titanic Ventures, a company whose aim was to retrieve artefacts and relics from the wreck, whilst at the same time filming more of the ship in an attempt to provide some kind of proof of the nature of the sinking. The science and research side of the expedition would be provided by IFREMER, the French Institute of Research and Exploration of the Sea, Robert Ballard's former partners in the discovery of the wreck of Titanic .
The French were well equipped for the enormous task that lay ahead, and their research vessel Nadir, pictured above left, would be the support vessel to IFREMER's own deep sea submersible, Nautile. Able to dive to 20,000 feet with three crew, and equipped with twin mechanical arms, the tiny submersible would make 32 dives to the seabed during the time spent on site between 22nd July - 11th September 1987, recovering well over 1,500 individual items from the wreck and the surrounding debris field.
Previous attempts to make it illegal to recover and sell artefacts raised from the Titanic had been fairly ineffective, and on 3rd August 1987, midway through the Titanic Ventures salvage operation, Senator Lowell Weicker Jr. introduced a bill to prohibit the importation of objects from Titanic . The bill passed the Senate, and was then tabled by the House, which again took no further action. The main problem was that as the wreck of Titanic lay in international waters, the House could not enforce their policies on anyone wishing to salvage the wreck.
Just as Robert Ballard's submersible Alvin had used a remotely operated robot called Jason Junior, or JJ, the French submersible was also equipped with a state-of-the-art robot sidekick called Robin, which was operated from within Nautile via an umbilical cord. Small propellers on the top and sides enabled the vehicle to move in any direction. Measuring only a mere 2 feet by 2 feet, Robin could advance deep inside the wrecked hull of Titanic , and if anything disastrous were to happen causing Robin to get trapped, it could be simply cut free from Nautile allowing the sub and its crew to leave the wreck safely and return to the surface intact.
The expedition was a huge success, and well over 1,500 artefacts, ranging from teaspoons to telegraphs, were raised the two-and-a-half miles to the surface, ready to be put through the painstaking process of cleaning, restoration and preservation.