Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


The recent discovery of the Titanic some 500 miles off the coast of Canada has given rise to the question of who now "owns" the sunken vessel. This Note discusses the possible ownership rights to the Titanic within the framework of current international law. First, the author examines the customary international law of salvage and of finds, and identifies the inherent conflicts between the two doctrines. The author then discusses the effect of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, paying particular attention to its novel provisions regarding Objects of an Historical and Archeological Nature (OHANs). The author attempts to reconcile the relevant Convention provisions with existing customary international law, and concludes that through an incorporation of various aspects of the law of finds the new Convention provisions could constitute a workable formula for the disposition of OHANs such as the Titanic.