RMS Titanic wreck to be protected under UK and US agreement
The wreckage of RMS Titanic is to be protected under a treaty between the US and UK governments.
The international agreement gives the governments power to grant or deny licences allowing entry of the wreck or removal of artefactsIt was signed to ensure the resting site of more than 1,500 passengers and crew is preserved and respected.
Built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, the Titanic sank in 1912 on its maiden voyage from Southampton.
The ocean liner sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
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Signed by the UK in 2003, the treaty comes into force after being ratified by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the end of 2019.
The wreck has not previously been protected under explicit legislation as it lies in international waters.
UK Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani described the agreement as "momentous".
"Lying two and a half miles below the ocean surface, the RMS Titanic is the subject of the most documented maritime tragedy in history," she said.
"It will be treated with the sensitivity and respect owed to the final resting place of more than 1,500 lives."
Ms Ghani added that the UK will now work closely with other North Atlantic countries, like Canada and France, to bring "even more protection" to Titanic.
The wreck was discovered in 1985 about 350 nautical miles off the Canadian coast of Newfoundland, two-and-a-half miles below the ocean surface.
An international agreement between multiple countries to protect the wreck has been in negotiation since 1986.