Why can't someone claim the Bismarck?

There was an excellent James Cameron program showing on the Discovery Channel about the Bismarck this week. A passing mention was that they weren’t allowed to bring back any “artifacts” because of international law.

Why? Does the fact that it’s a warship make a difference? If a car dealer in Virginia can take ownership of the Titanic under international salvage law, what prevents some similarly well-heeled person from commissioning a dive to bring back a rusty bolt and make the same sort of claim (as the Virginia chap apparently did)?

It’s more to do with it being a War Grave.

Respect to those fallen in battle .

Warships (and crashed military aircraft) are considered the property of their government in perpetuity, by international law, even if they sink in another countries sovereign territory.

The US attempted to Raise a Soviet Golf class submarine. Wouldn’t that be the same type of salvage operation?

Maybe that’s why the US/CIA did it secretly?

We chatted about this question at some length last fall in this thread: A ship sunk during wartime is a natural graveyard and can’t be moved?

The US/CIA operation was definitely illegal under international law. I’d heard about it before, but I hadn’t heard about the incident with the missle. It sounds like the CIA guys are lucky they didn’t nuke themselves.