London, Jan 22 (IANS) The wreckage of the Titanic is to be better protected under a new treaty signed between Britain and the US, Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) has said.
The signing of the treaty, which allows the British and US governments to grant or deny licences authorising entry of the wreck or removal of artefacts, will help ensure the resting site of more than 1,500 people is preserved and respected, Xinhua news agency quoted the DfT as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
“This strengthens the basic level of protection for the wreck, previously afforded it by UNESCO. Lying in international waters, the wreck was previously not protected by explicit legislation,” the DfT said.
Britain’s Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani confirmed on Tuesday during a visit to Belfast, where the ship was built, that the treaty, first signed by Britain in 2003, has come into force following its ratification by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the end of last year.
“This momentous agreement with the US to preserve the wreck means it will be treated with the sensitivity and respect,” Ghani said.
On April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg, the Titanic sank in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean during its maiden voyage from Southampton. The wreck of the ship was discovered in September 1985 approximately 350 nautical miles (648.2 km) off the Canadian coast of Newfoundland, more than 4 km below the ocean surface.
Britain will now take a leading role in working with other North Atlantic countries, including Canada and France, to urge them to sign up to the agreement and bring even more protection to the wreck of the Titanic, said the DfT.