FOX Facts: Key Dates in Battle Over Titanic Artifacts

Key dates in the history of the RMS Titanic:

— April 15, 1912: White Star oceanliner sinks 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland after striking iceberg on maiden voyage. More than 1,500 passengers and crew die.

— 1916: Oceanic Steam Navigation Co., Titanic's owner, pays $664,000 to settle all legal claims.

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— Sept. 1, 1985: Titanic wreck discovered by joint expedition, including Robert Ballard, who makes several dives to the site. No artifacts are salvaged.

— July 1986: Ballard places plaque on Titanic, urging that site be left undisturbed as a memorial. Congress passes RMS Titanic Maritime Memorial Act, a symbolic declaration that the wreck should be left untouched.

— 1987: Titanic Ventures, a limited partnership, makes 32 dives and recovers 1,800 artifacts, sparking protests. Titanic Ventures sells salvage interests and artifacts to RMS Titanic Inc.

— July 1993: RMS Titanic recovers 800 artifacts, seeks exclusive salvage rights. As court grants company temporary custody, RMS Titanic, also known as RMST, settles with one of Titanic's original insurers.

— June 1994: Court names RMST salvor-in-possession of the Titanic but stresses that it is "not the owner of the artifacts which it recovers from the wreck site." The court says the company is entitled to a salvage award for its efforts.

— 1997: Titanic exhibition opens in Memphis, St. Petersburg, Fla., Norfolk, Va., and Hamburg, Germany.

— July 2000: U.S. District Judge J. Calvitt Clarke in Norfolk, Va., bars RMST from penetrating or cutting into the Titanic.

— Jan. 31, 2006: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals orders U.S. District Court to apply the principles of traditional salvage law to the wreck of the Titanic in a manner that serves "the public interest and at the same time provides an appropriate award for the salvor."

— July 2007: State Department submits to Congress proposed legislation to implement international agreement with United Kingdom, France and Canada. It is not enacted.

— Nov. 30, 2007: RMST submits its motion for salvage award, which it estimates at more than $100 million, seeks an "in specie" award — possession of the artifacts themselves.

— 2009: U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith expected to rule on RMST request.