During the 2011 mid-year SHA Board Meeting in Washington DC, four members composed a delegation in support of Titanic legislation on Capitol Hill. The situation had changed from last year, as the subject is no longer being dealt with by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. Titanic has been taken up by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The delegation met with three members of the Foreign Relations committee's staff at the end of June, as well as with staff of Senators Barbara Boxer, Jeanne Shaheen, and Tom Udall. We were pleased to learn that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was preparing to introduce Titanic legislation as part of another bill.
After our Hill visit, SHA President Bill Lees sent a letter to Committee Chair John F. Kerry. He also sent letters to Ranking Member Richard G. Lugar, and the other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Barbara Boxer, Robert Menendez, Benjamin L. Cardin, Robert P. Casey Jr., Jim Webb, Jeanne Shaheen, Christopher Coons, Richard J. Durbin, Tom Udall, Bob Corker, James E. Risch, Marco Rubio, James M. Inhofe, Jim DeMint, Johnny Isakson, John Barrasso, Mike Lee).
On 27 July 2011, Senator Kerry introduced the bill to the Senate and it was read twice and then referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. It is state authorization legislation (S.1426) that includes the RMS Titanic provision as Title VI (Sections 601-605) - RMS Titanic Maritime Memorial Preservation Act. The Titanic Act is based on the draft legislation that DOS sent up to Capitol Hill in 2009/2010. Attached is a copy of the bill and a summary of provisions that a member of the Foreign Relations Committee staff sent to us.
Also, please note that you can access the Federal Agency letters that were written regarding protection of UCH consistent with the Annex Rules of the 2001 UNESCO Convention. Most Federal Agencies with responsibility for protecting UCH have indicated that their activities directed at UCH will be done in a manner consistent with the Annex Rules. Included among these agencies are: the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the National Park Service (NPS), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM, formerly Minerals Management Service), the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), the Coast Guard (USCG), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Federal Agency letters on the subject are available online at http://www.sha.org/underwater/letters.cfm.