Dive Finds Titanic Pieces Are Now Gone

Cheryl Sanders
August 22, 2019

For the first time in 15 years, an worldwide team of deep-sea explorers dived down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to the wreck of the Titanic - only to find it being eaten by bacteria, covering the once majestic ship in stalactites of rust.

Explorers on the first manned voyage to the wreckage of the stricken liner discovered that the ship's hull has partially collapsed thanks to salt corrosion and metal-eating bacteria.

An global team of explorers made five dives with manned submersibles in early August to survey and photograph the ship, which lies 3,800m below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean.

"The captain's bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts, and that's now gone".

The team of divers found that the hull near the officers' quarters on the starboard side of the ship has started to collapse, taking with it the vessel's luxurious stateroom accommodation, according to exploration company Caladan Oceanic.

"The most fascinating aspect was seeing how the Titanic is being consumed by the ocean and returning to its elemental form while providing refuge for a remarkably diverse number of animals", Patrick Lahey, president and co-founder of Triton Submarines, said in a statement Wednesday.

Lori Johnston, a scientist at Droycon Bioconcepts who's a veteran of past expeditions, said the wreck's breakdown is sure to accelerate. However, previous expeditions revealed that iron-eating microbes have colonised the ship, slowly turning the ship's 50,000 tonnes of iron into rusticles, which eventually dissolve into a fine powder and are carried away on ocean eddies.

This work is important because - obviously - the ship is going to keep on deteriorating until, inevitably, there is nothing left. Expedition scientist Clare Fitzsimmons, from Newcastle University, said it was a factor in the Titanic's decay.

Diver Victor Vescovo said that he "wasn't quite prepared" for how the shipwreck would look once he saw it.

"The most unbelievable moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible, the first time when they reflected off of a portal and came right back", he said.

Titanic sank in April 1912 after hitting an ice berg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to NY. While on the site, the group laid a wreath and held a short ceremony out of appreciation for the individuals who lost their lives in 1912. It was like the ship was winking at me.

Because of this, previous estimates have suggested the entire wreck may disappear by 2030 or not long after, with the microbial devouring of the Titanic leaving nothing but a "rust stain on the bottom of the Atlantic".

Using the submersible camera systems, the team performed dedicated photogrammetry passes on the wreck, allowing highly accurate and photoreal 3D models of RMS Titanic to be produced.

The dives have been filmed by Atlantic Productions for a forthcoming documentary.

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