Titanic wreckage to get extra protection in UK-US agreement

The wreckage of the Titanic will be protected from potentially damaging expeditions thanks to a new agreement between the US and the UK.

Almost 35 years since the doomed passenger ship was found underwater off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, the two countries have signed a treaty giving them the power to block efforts to explore its remains.

The deal, which was signed by the UK in 2003 but only ratified by Washington last November, will allow the nations to grant and deny licences to enter sections of the Titanic's sunken hull and remove artefacts.

Dozens of expeditions have ventured to the site in international waters since the wreck was discovered in 1985.

Experts claim many artefacts have been removed from the Belfast-built ship, which broke apart and sunk after it collided with an enormous iceberg in the North Atlantic - five days after its maiden voyage began on 10 April 1912.

Some of the items recovered from the vessel over the years have sold at auction , including a lunch menu saved by a first-class passenger that fetched $88,000 (£58,000) back in 2015 .

Among the everyday items to have been auctioned are shaving kits, children's toys and tobacco pipes.

British maritime minister Nusrat Ghani said the new deal with the US would also protect the wreckage from suffering further damage from mini-submarines landing on its surface.

The agreement marks the first time the Titanic has been protected by explicit legislation, having previously only been covered via the United Nation's Unesco heritage programme.

Canada and France were also involved in negotiating the deal but have not yet signed it themselves.