Deep Ocean Expeditions
From NOAA News
The world’s best known shipwreck turns 100 today. Maritime historians generally consider the date of a ship’s launch to be its “official birth date” and the Belfast, Northern Ireland, shipyard of Harland & Wolff launched RMS Titanic on May 31, 1911. Once afloat, RMS Titanic was then completed by shipyard workers before setting out on its tragic maiden voyage nearly a year later.
The 100th birthday of Titanic is a landmark event in that the wreck is now considered an archaeological resource site as defined under the United States Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
After it struck an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, the Titanic became the catalyst for the development of international law on safety of navigation, including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, as well as for the establishment of the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and prevention of marine pollution by ships.
The wreck of RMS Titanic was discovered in 1985 by a joint U.S.-French expedition in more than 12,400 feet of water in the North Atlantic. In recognition of the discovery of the wreck site and its historical and cultural significance, Congress passed the RMS Titanic Memorial Act of 1986.
The legislation authorized the negotiation of an international agreement and the adoption of guidelines to designate the site as an international maritime memorial to those who lost their lives. Negotiation of this international agreement by the U.S., France, Canada, and the United Kingdom was concluded in 2000.
While the international agreement has not yet entered into force, NOAA developed the guidelines in 2001, and mounted two scientific expeditions to the wreck in 2003 and 2004 with a variety of partners.
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