Over the past few weeks, people have been surprised to learn that visiting the Titanic is something other (very wealthy) people do.
Many shipwrecks, such as military ships that have sunk in US waters, are off-limits to explorers, tourists, and people looking to salvage booty. The Titanic, lying in international waters, is protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as a later US-UK treaty aimed at preserving the wreck and preventing looting.
However, people are still allowed to dive down to the Titanic and can obtain permits to enter the hull if they have the resources available to them to take them down there. Only one company – RMS Titanic Inc. – is legally allowed to salvage items from the wreck.
A dive to the Titanic, led by Christopher J. Davino, the president of RMS Titanic, Inc.
Only a handful have made the trip, and among them was one couple, who got married on the ship's deck. David Leibowitz and Kimberley Miller, from New York, made the trip 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) under the ocean to tie the knot on top of the Titanic in 2001, after winning a competition by diving company Subsea Explorer.
They got married in a ceremony by Captain Ron Warwick, on the Russian research vessel the Akademik Keldysh above. Due to space limitations and safety concerns, the couple remained on their knees during the ceremony, while dressed in flame-retardant suits.
The competition and wedding were met with some controversy, with Titanic historian Brian Ticehurst calling it "an insult to each one of those people that this couple should spoil the site by getting married".
The groom was dismissive of the comments.
"We don't really view this as a gravesite," Leibowitz said at the time, according to the Independent. "Still if you were to be married at a church, you'd have to treat that with reverence because you'd be near a graveyard, too."
Following the implosion of the OceanGate Titan submersible, there have been further calls from descendants of Titanic passengers to stop visiting the gravesite.
“I've always been uncomfortable with the exploitation of the ship down there. Over a thousand people died," Brett Gladstone, whose great-great-grandmother died during the disaster, told Inside Edition.
“My great-great-grandmother's body was never found, it lies at the bottom,” he continued. “Her soul and the souls of a thousand people remains in a kind of graveyard.”