Shocking Titanic Discoveries
The Titanic captured the imagination of millions long before James Cameron made his epic film. The luxury liner that sunk to the bottom of the ocean in the early part of the 20th century still sits at the bottom of the ocean. It has been a destination for scientists and researchers since it was discovered, but over the past 14 years, the ship has sat untouched and unseen by human eyes. That would change in August of 2019, though, when the wreck would finally be revisited. What the researchers found was shocking.
To find out what they found as they investigated the ocean floor and the wreck, click the Next button below.
Mini-Sub Into the Past
In August of 2019, a two-man crew climbed into the “Limiting Factor”, which is a mini-sub, and they headed to the bottom of the ocean just off the Newfoundland coast. After diving 370 miles down, the men aboard the vessel put their eyes on a site that hadn’t been seen in over a decade. Resting before them lie the RMS Titanic, but the divers found something they weren’t expecting. In fact, the sight was almost as shocking as the first time the wreck was seen by cameras.
More than a hundred years after the ship sank, there is still a lot that we have yet to learn from the tragic event. It is more than a wreck – it is part of history. The maiden voyage of the unsinkable luxury liner was launched with a fanfare like few other passenger ships have ever received. Launching from England, its first destination was actually in France, and then she was going to move on to Ireland. Unfortunately for the passengers that boarded the ship, the voyage was not going to go as planned.
A Century Later
Though this research trip wasn’t the first expedition down to the tragic ocean liner, this one brought with it a lot of new discoveries. After sitting on the bottom of the ocean for 107 years, the full story of the ship and its passengers is still unknown. The sights that were seen by the new adventurers cemented the fact that this may be the case forever. However, there is still a desire to explore and see the ship, and that is why there will be a chance for tourists to dive down and see the ship for themselves in the very near future.
The mini-sub that dove down to investigate the wreck traveled down over two miles to lay eyes on the tragic wreck, but what was found was just as tragic as the lives lost that fateful day in 1912. The ship’s sinking wasn’t the only thing that was astonishing about this vessel. It was one of three Olympic class ocean liners built at the time, and the ocean seemed to be trying to erase that legendary fact along with the story of the ship.
One-Upping the Competition
This ship, along with its sisters – the Olympic and the Britannic – was intended to revolutionize transatlantic travel. Each of these three ocean liners was part of the White Star Line fleet. The concept was born when the head of White Star was having a conversation with the famous American businessman, J.P. Morgan. The idea was to build a floating city on the water to make travel more comfortable between the two continents. This would be something that would give the liners a leg up over the competition.
The actual construction of the Titanic would begin in 1909 in Belfast. The whole construction process took two years from start to finish. The company commissioned to build the ship was one that White Star had worked with for years. However, even with that history, the sheer size and intricacies of the design of the ship took longer than a typical ship. There were a lot of engineering hurdles to jump over and a massive amount of labor to be undertaken.
Dangerous From the Start
The sheer size and amount of materials needed to craft the ship were enough of a hurdle. There were over 2,000 steel plates used to build the ship, each measuring 6’x 30’. On top of that, the ship’s plates weighed in at 1,200 tons, and the expansive engineering and construction needs led to a few deaths, as well as several injuries. In total, nine people were lost during the construction of the Titanic, and 246 people were injured.
The ship had to be massive to house all the luxuries that were meant to be onboard the ocean liner. Those traveling in first-class were to have access to some amazing amenities. These included a gymnasium, a Turkish bath, and a swimming pool. When it came to dining, the passengers would be able to enjoy five-star French cuisine. Nowadays, that seems like a standard group of amenities for any cruise ship, but back then, this was excessive and very opulent.
Finishing the Job
After the ship was finished, the numbers associated with the Titanic were astounding. The ship was more than 880’ long and 175’ tall, as well as more than 90’ wide. The displacement of the ship was over 52,000 tons, and there were 29 boilers inside the ship. These boilers powered the engine, which powered four propellers. For safety, the ship was fitted with 20 lifeboats. This gave the ship the capability of saving 1,178 passengers. However, in total, the ship carried 2224 passengers and crew.
Lifeboats & Safety
On a vessel that travels so far on open water, lifeboats are very crucial. On the ship, there were 14 classic wooden lifeboats, along with four collapsible ones and two cutters. The ship was outfitted to hold 64 traditional lifeboats in total. This number would have been enough to save everyone on the ship and then some. Unfortunately, for the inaugural trek across the Atlantic, the company decided to simply outfit the boat with 20 lifeboats, which was barely enough to save half of the people on the voyage.
After its final stop in Ireland to pick up its last group of passengers, the amazing and expensive ship set out for its first transatlantic voyage. On April 11th, the ship set off for its final destination – New York City. Just three days later and only 375 miles from the coast of Canada, things would take a tragic turn. At almost midnight on April 14th, the boat would strike something and thus face its final hours on the ocean. This horrible accident would end up taking hundreds of lives and leaving a mark on history.
What had struck the hull of the ship was a massive iceberg. Though the floating chunk of ice did not actually cut through the hull, it still left enough damage so that there was no way to save the ship. How did the Captain not miss the iceberg, though? He thought he had. From the surface view of the captain, the ship had cleared the obstacle. Unfortunately, underneath the water was a different situation, and the protrusion of the iceberg just below the waterline is actually what impacted the hull.
Breaching the Hull
The story that the hull was pierced is false. Actually, the iceberg impacted the steel plates of the ship. This impact caused the steel plates to be warped, and this created gaps between them. These gaps allowed the ocean water to begin to pour into several of the ship’s watertight sections. The ship was built to be able to stay afloat with four of these airtight compartments out of commission, but tragically, five were filled. This was the beginning of the end.
Plunged Into the Depths
With water filling up these cabins, the ship began to sink but not rapidly. In fact, it took two and a half hours for the ship to disappear below the waterline. Onboard this ship were over 2,000 people who had been assured that the ship was unsinkable. Tragically, this misrepresentation or miscalculation (however you want to look at it) cost 1,500 people their lives. Of that 1,500, about 1,000 of them were still on the ship when it plummeted to the bottom of the ocean.
Finding the Titanic
In the end, once the ship had sunk and the people were rescued, the Titanic sat on the ocean floor for decades. This was due to the uncertainty of exactly where the ship had gone down. The loved ones of people lost on the ship, especially the wealthiest, looked for the wreck. Many of them even came up with ideas on how to raise the ship so that they could collect their relatives for a proper burial. Sadly, the technology of the time was not adequate to even locate the ship.
There were many other expeditions to find the wreck, and each expedition had its own idea of how to raise the ship. One expedition in the 70s even wanted to fill the ship with ping pong balls. They hoped that this would lift the ship to the surface so that the answers could finally be had about what exactly happened on the Titanic. Alas, that expedition came up empty, and it wasn’t until 1985 that the ship was actually found.
That being said, let’s return to the mission at hand. In August of 2019, a small sub manned with just two divers broke the surface and returned to the Titanic’s resting spot. After diving down over 12,000 feet, the small manned submarine took some pretty epic pictures with high-definition 4K cameras and found something that they just hadn’t expected. The images were some of the clearest that had ever been taken, and what they saw would change the course of history.
This expedition was executed by Caladan Oceanic. The head of the company and a diver on the expedition, Victor Vescovo, wanted to revisit the site that hadn’t been seen in over a decade. The team knew it was going to take more than one dive to get all the images they needed. In fact, over a short period of time, Victor and his team made five separate dives. With each new dive, one thing was very clear – time was of the utmost concern.
Being Taken Over
A history expert on the Titanic and a planner laid out the details of the voyage, but when the divers got to the wreck, they were shocked to see that the ocean had begun to reclaim the ship. Time was not on the explorers’ side. The sea, with all its power and expansive life, had begun to gnaw away at the hull and other pieces of the ship. There was an urgency to record and capture the images before the ship was gone.
Much of the ship had already been taken by the sea by the time the divers arrived. That includes the infamous “Captains bathtub”, which was one of the most iconic images from the previous expeditions. Though the disintegration of the ship is sad, the power of the sea and the life it contains left the team with some fantastic images. Of course, it didn’t hurt that technology had advanced enough to make the resolution of these images crystal clear.
Releasing a Statement
Patrick Lahey, one of the members of the expedition and owner of Triton Submarines, quickly felt he and the team had to release a statement on what the team found. What the team had found when they got to the wreck was that the detritus had been eroding quickly over the last decade or so. This means that the Titanic is being broken down into its core elements, and the ocean floor is overtaking it, making it the new home of a wide variety of sea life.
In an interview with the BBC, one of the members of the team discussed the amazing finds. The currents in the ocean and the salt’s corrosion, along with bacteria, have begun to eat away at the metal. All of this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, though, as other expeditions have found the same thing occurring with other sunken vessels. One of the scientists on the team also weighed in and discussed the “rusticle structures” formed by microbes, which creates a weakness in the metal.
These rusticles eventually cause the metal to turn to dust. In essence, the Titanic is being erased from history by the ocean. The ship has been a source of interest for decades, and in a matter of years, the ships and its passenger histories will be lost to the ocean floor. This is why there is a rush to be able to allow tourists and researchers to have some time with the ship before it fades into history.
Other Sunken Ships
The sudden urgency to reveal and investigate the Titanic has also made many realize that it is not the only sunken vessel that deserves to go down in the annals of history. Though the Titanic may well be one of the (if not the most) famous sunken ships in history, there are still many more vessels that scientists and researchers are interested in. Perhaps the Titanic and its sunken sister ship can reveal more about the wonders of the unknown world of the ocean floor.
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