GEORGE Tulloch, the underwater explorer who caused a storm by bringing artefacts from the wreck of the Titanic back to the surface, has died in America after losing his fight against cancer.
His critics, including scientist Robert Ballard, the man who found the wreck on the floor of the Atlantic, claimed that the site was a grave and that Tulloch and the five expeditions to the depths which he led, were violating the last resting place of the victims.
But Tulloch, former president of RMS Titanic Inc, the company given the salvage rights, came to Belfast to explain his actions.
He was a guest at the Titanic at Home Convention at the Waterfront in 1997.
And today Una Reilly, co-founder of the Belfast Titanic Society, paid tribute to Mr Tulloch (59), who is survived by his wife Cindy and their three children.
"Many people here disagreed with his policy of retrieving artefacts. But in the end he earned the respect and friendship of our members."
Tulloch, who returned to Belfast last year, died without seeing his final dream come true. His aim was to bring many of the artefacts he recovered home to Belfast.
"He was fighting for this cause right up until his passing," revealed Una Reilly.
Tulloch's final message in the Titanic International Society's journal Voyage declared that he hoped future generations would understand the reverence and dedication of the expeditions to the wreck.