1987 rolled around and saw the first all-out salvage attempt of the Titanic wreck. An expedition, led by the French IFREMER, under the command of Commander Paul-Henri Nargeolet sought to lay claim to the Titanic wreck. The expedition was guided by historian and explorer Ralph White, a former photographer and historian on the 85′ expedition which found the Titanic.
It was Ralph White that acquired Titanic’s precise position on the ocean floor by memorizing the coordinates on a chart that had been carelessly left behind on the chart table of Ballard’s vessel. The position enabled investors George Tulloch, G. Michael Harris, and D. Michael Harris to front the funds for an expedition. Each of these men had a vested interest in Titanic.
George Tulloch, a car salesman and self-made millionaire who was one of the first BMW dealers in America, sought the Titanic to share and exhibit her artifacts to preserve the ship’s legacy.
Michael Harris had likewise been a part of the GRIMM expeditionary team to find the Titanic, and had co-produced the documentary special ‘SEARCH FOR THE TITANIC’ which chronicled Jack Grimm’s efforts.
His son G. Michael Harris, was to follow in his father’s footsteps and explore salvage Titanic.
Commander Paul-Henri Nargeolet was out to preserve the pride of IFREMER on this expedition.
The organization had initially been slated to use the submersible Nautile & Robin the ROV in tandem with ALVIN & Jason Junior to explore Titanic the previous year, but for reasons unknown, both Jean-Louis Michel and IFREMER had been ousted from taking part in the 1986 expedition which explored and documented the liner. Commander Nargeolet was here to see to it that prestige would be restored to IFREMER. They had, after all, been the co-finders of the Titanic, and though they were denied participation in the first exploration they would, for the first time, recover artifacts from the Titanic and share them with the world.
The 1987 Expedition conducted 32 dives to Titanic using the submersible Nautile, as well as recovered, brought ashore, and conserved for display more than 1,800 objects. The expedition was also the first to see a woman make the record-setting FIRST FEMALE DIVER TO TITANIC when Jennifer Carter, a member of the National Geographic Society, co-led several of the dives and personally oversaw the recovery of several artifacts.
The expedition saw the creation of 3 documentary productions including “Treasures of the Titanic” hosted by Doug Lewlyln, “Return to the Titanic” hosted by Telly Savalas live from Paris, France, and the French documentary “Titanic 78 Ans Sous La Mer” (Titanic: 78 Years Under The Sea).
Worldwide attention was re-focused on the Titanic and a bitter controversy was started over the removal of artifacts from what had been profoundly described as an underwater tomb. Nevertheless, with salvage laws being observed and all claims to the ship being long since forfeited, the ownership of Titanic and her artifacts was granted to “Titanic Ventures Limited”, a company which would later be re-flagged under the banner of “R.M.S TITANIC INCORPORATED”
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