The Titanic is Found
The Titanic is Found
More than 70 years after one of the world’s most famous ships tragically sank, it was discovered largely intact on the ocean floor on September 1, 1985.
The sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912 was one of the worst – and most well-known – maritime disasters ever. More than 1,500 people lost their lives and new measures were taken to make future ships safer.
Over the years, many people wanted to raise the ship, but this was easier said than done. No one knew for sure where exactly the ship had sunk. The location of the distress signal turned out to be inaccurate and researchers’ calculations varied. In the early 1980s, Jack Grimm sponsored several missions to find the ship, but had no luck.
Robert Ballard, an oceanographer and Navy captain was convinced he could find the Titanic, if he had the funding. The Navy agreed to fund his trip, as long as he first located and photographed two Cold War-era sunken submarines. Once he completed that mission, Ballard was ready to find the Titanic. He developed a new system to explore the ocean floor – named Argo/Jason (after the Greek myth). Combined, they were a remote-controlled deep sea video vessel towed by a swimming robot.
Ballard launched his first expedition in July 1985. After three weeks, he found nothing. But then he began thinking about the ship’s debris field. Because the Titanic had sank over a course of more than two miles, it would’ve had a huge debris field. If he could find some of the debris, it would lead him to the ship. Ballard launched a new expedition on August 24, this time looking for the debris field. The first week was uneventful, but then, on September 1, 1985, a boiler was located – the first sighting of the Titanic underwater.
This discovery reinvigorated the search and soon they found the ship’s main hull. To their surprise, much of the ship was still largely intact. The crew cheered and celebrated, and then went silent, as it was nearly 2 a.m., approaching the time the ship had sank over 73 years prior.
The next year, Ballard led another expedition to explore the wreck. In the 1990s, the RMS Titanic Inc. received the rights to launch expeditions and collect artifacts from the ship. They found more than 5,000 items, ranging from china dishes to leather trunks filled with bank notes. In 1998, they lifted a 20-ton section of the hull and made it part of a traveling exhibit.
Despite the excitement over the discovery, not all think it’s a good thing. Some argue that it violates a sacred resting ground. And the repeated expeditions have caused the ship to deteriorate much faster than it would have had it never been discovered. Some scientists have speculated that the wreck could be completely destroyed 50 years from now. However, its discovery has answered a lot of questions about what happened that cold April night 101 years ago.
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