(TMU) — The RMS Titanic—the storied ship once considered “unsinkable” but which sank over 107 years ago, killing 1,517 people—is slowly yet surely continuing its decline into oblivion as it lies, rotting, over 12,000 feet (3,800 meters) below the waves of the North Atlantic.
In August, an international team of deep-ocean explorers led by private company Caladan Oceanic embarked on a series of five manned missions to the Titanic using submersibles. The explorers meticulously filmed the wreckage of the great ship, which hadn’t been visited in over 14 years, and were shocked by the clear signs of disintegration that have afflicted the wreckage.
Given the depths at which the ship lies submerged in the bitter cold waters of the North Atlantic, the ruins of the ship have been vulnerable to a number of factors ranging from corrosive rust and sea salt to metal-eating bacteria, flocks of deep-sea creatures, and the constant motion of sea currents.
In a statement, Titanic expert Parks Stephenson said:
“The most shocking area of deterioration was the starboard side of the officer’s quarters, where the captain’s quarters were.
Captain’s bathtub is a favorite image among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone.
That whole deck hole on that side is collapsing taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing.”
However, the team of experts was able to capture stunning 4K footage of the wreck using a system of submersible cameras and methods that will allow for the ship to be visualized in rich detail using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. The full results of the survey will be published by the expeditionary team alongside an upcoming documentary film being produced by Atlantic Productions.
During its time afloat, the legendary ship was considered the largest in the world and was believed to be invulnerable or “unsinkable,” although the term was never actually used in promotional materials related to the vessel.
Submersible pilot Victor Vescovo said:
“It’s a big wreck, I wasn’t quite prepared for how large it was.
It was extraordinary to see it all, and the most amazing moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible reflected off a portal and came right back, it was like the ship was winking at me.
It was amazing.”
On the evening of April 14, 1912, the ship hit a massive iceberg that was lying 375 miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland, just four days after it embarked on its journey from the U.K. toward New York City. By early next morning, the ship had totally run aground, and roughly 1,500 people died either from the frigid, freezing waters or due to drowning. An estimated 705 managed to survive.
In 1985, a U.S. military mission in the area found the wreckage. Since then, the Titanic has become the subject of interest in pop culture, archaeology and science.
Yet this latest expedition will hopefully be able to virtually capture the remains of the famous ship, even if its physical remains appear to be inexorably disappearing over the years.
Researcher Lori Johnson, who helped work on the project, said:
“The future of the wreck is going to continue to deteriorate over time, it’s a natural process.
These are natural types of bacteria, so the reason that the deterioration process ends up being quite a bit faster, is a group of bacteria, a community working symbiotically to eat, if you will, the iron and the sulphur.”
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