The underwater ruins of the RMS Titanic are now under the protection of a joint treaty between the United States and United Kingdom.
The UK’s Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani announced Tuesday that the treaty will allow the two countries to grant or deny licenses from divers looking to explore the historic remains.
“This momentous agreement with the United States to preserve the wreck means it will be treated with the sensitivity and respect owed to the final resting place of more than 1,500 lives,” Ghani said at the Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The two countries will also work with Canada and France to protect the historic wreck located 2.5 miles beneath the surface of the sea. The wreck is located about 370 nautical miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. Because the wreck is located in international waters, it hadn’t ever been protected by explicit legislation.
The UK signed the treaty back in 2003 but it is only coming into force now as the U.S. didn’t ratify it until the end of last year.
In August, divers visited the site of the Titanic for the first time in 14 years and were shocked at the ship’s rapid decay and said it was “being consumed by the ocean and returning to its elemental form.”
The “unsinkable” Titanic came to its end on its maiden voyage in 1912. Only 706 of the 2,223 passengers and crew survived.
A replica of the ship is currently under construction at a resort in China. Visitors will be able to board the life-size remake that will “sink” when they board.
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