01:47 GMT07 April 2020
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    RMS Titanic Inc., a Georgia-based company that salvages artifacts from the Titanic, wants to retrieve the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Machine by cutting into the hull of the vessel located at the wreck site. The device was used to request help as the British ocean liner was sinking after hitting an iceberg in 1912.

    Lawyers enlisted by the company were present Thursday in a Virginia courtroom to argue their case; however, the presiding federal judge ultimately indicated that more information was needed to make a final decision, according to the Associated Press.

    According to documents filed in a Virginia federal court, RMS Titanic would need federal court approval to obtain the machine, which would require the company to cut through the ship’s deckhouse to access the room where the wireless radio was housed.

    "It's one of those iconic artifacts, like the signal flares [that the sinking ship launched]," David Gallo, an oceanographer who is a consultant for the firm, said during a federal court hearing in Norfolk, Virginia, Thursday. In addition, Gallo said that salvaging the telegraph machine wouldn’t be “grave robbery” but a way for people to connect to and honor the ship’s history.

    According to RMS Titanic, time is running out to retrieve the telegraph machine, which has been called “the voice” of the Titanic. The company has recovered thousands of items from the site of the wreck, which sits about 400 miles off of Newfoundland, Canada.

    Because the telegraph device is located in a room on the ship’s deck, it might become unretrievable if the roof above it continues to perforate. 

    “I'm not sure if we go in 2020 that the roof won't collapse on everything,” Paul Henry Nargeolet, director of the company's underwater research program, is quoted as saying during the court testimony. However, the firm has already received pushback from the US Attorney’s Office in Virginia, which represents the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

    According to the attorneys, retrieval of the device would violate court orders. A treaty between the US and the UK that was signed in 2003 and ratified in 2019 gives both countries the right to deny licenses to slice the hull of the Titanic wreckage and retrieve artifacts from inside it.

    "It seems clear that this is not simply a 'one-off' proposal for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph, but a placeholder for future requests to take similar actions in order to recover other artifacts from inside the wreck," federal attorney Kent P. Porter wrote in court documents, AP reported.

    According to Karen Kamuda, president of the Massachusetts-based Titanic Historical Society Inc., the organization "has been against disturbing the wreck since 1985 because it is a gravesite."

    "As usual, it's all about money," she added in a statement to AP.

    The Titanic was an Olympic-class passenger liner owned by British shipping company White Star Line. On April 14, 1912, four days into its maiden voyage, the ship hit an iceberg and sank within three hours. The disaster resulted in the deaths of 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board.

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