30/04/13

30/04/2013: Minister Deenihan Agrees Plans for Further Investigations of Sinking of Lusitania with Owner, Gregg Bemis

Today (Tuesday 30th April, 2013) Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, met American businessman, Gregg Bemis, of Santa Fé, New Mexico, the owner of the wreck of the RMS Lusitania to discuss Mr. Bemis’s plans for future dives on the protected wreck. A general agreement on the objectives of further research planned by Mr Bemis was endorsed by both parties.

The Minister also discussed Mr Bemis’s offer to present a number of artefacts from the wreck to the State in the context of the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania and the need to commemorate its loss during the current Decade of Centenaries. The passenger liner was torpedoed on May 7th 1915 and its sinking had a significant influence on the course of Irish and international history at the time. The huge loss of life was the catalyst for bringing America into World War I.

The meeting with Mr. Bemis also addressed areas where there might be common ground and shared objectives with the State in relation to future exploration of the wreck. The Minister is currently reviewing a new licence application from Mr Bemis for a sustained project on the wreck site over the next three years. Under a previous licence granted in 2007, which expired at the end of 2011, Mr Bemis carried out explorations on the wreck with a view to gaining information on the possible cause of a second explosion at the time of its sinking that might have accounted for it going down so quickly.

He was also licensed to recover specific artefacts that might add to his and the State’s understanding of the wreck, as well as the life and times of those on board the vessel when it was lost. In his current licence application, as well as continuing his forensic investigations into the cause of the second explosion, Mr Bemis is also proposing to recover more artefacts with a view to an exhibition being mounted in a suitable museum in time for the centenary of the sinking.

Both the Minister and Mr Bemis agreed that there is also a need for a greater understanding of the present condition of the wreck and to assess its rate of deterioration over time so that future research can target areas that may be at risk of becoming totally inaccessible or which might reveal information on the key questions surrounding the last moments of the vessel before it sank.

Minister Deenihan and Mr. Bemis described the meeting as “very positive” and said that they looked forward to continuing co-operation with the objective of ensuring that the 100th anniversary of the sinking can be appropriately commemorated in 2015.

ENDS

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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