Titanic Recovery

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 26: Part of the largest-ever recovered piece of the Titanic is seen while being moved into the Luxor Resort & Casino August 26, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 15-ton, 15-by-30 foot portion of the ship's hull will be housed in the 'Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition' at the resort. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Premiere Exhibitions)

Early attempts

The first serious attempt to locate the wreck of Titanic was financed by a Texan called Jack Grimm.  In the summer of 1980, he hired two of the world’s top oceanographers to lead the expedition.  It set sail from Port Everglades, Florida.  Despite eyewitness accounts from 1912 that Titanic had split in two as she sank, the generally held opinion was that she remained intact.  The 1980 film “Raise the Titanic” further perpetuated that myth with a famous scene which shows Titanic sailing proudly into New York harbour.  The film’s producer, Lew Grade famously said that it would have been cheaper to “lower the Atlantic.”  The romantic notion of refloating the world’s most famous ship was about to be quashed once and for all.

As a publicity stunt, the expedition was going to carry as one of its passengers a monkey called Titan. It is rumoured that the monkey had been trained to point at the spot on a map where Titanic was believed to be.  However the scientists rebelled, telling Grimm it was either them or the monkey.  The monkey was left behind.  The expedition trawled an area around the position from which Titanic had radioed her distress call but nothing was found.  The project was dogged by bad weather and equipment failure. A second attempt the following year passed within two miles of the wreck but just out of range of the sonar equipment.  Jack Grimm believed he had found one of Titanic’s propellers but a third trip revealed it was too small to belong to the famous liner.

Bob Ballard- Locating the Wreck of RMS Titanic

In the summer of 1985, a joint operation was launched between a French oceanographic team and an American team which left from Woods Hole in Massachusetts.  It was led by Dr Robert Ballard.  The crew spent over three weeks scanning the area known as Titanic Canyon. On Sunday September 1st, 1985 just before 1am, scientist, Stu Harris got what we now know to be the first glimpse of Titanic for 73 years. In his book “The Discovery of the Titanic” Ballard writes, “Stu’s eyes were fixed to the Argo monitor. There’s something, he said as he pointed at the TV screen. Suddenly every member of the sleepy watch became alive and alert.”

What looked like a boiler was cross checked against the 1911 photographs of Titanic’s boilers at Harland and Wolff.  As a tribute to the shipyard which had built Titanic, Ballard raised the Harland and Wolff flag on the team’s vessel and a memorial service was held for those who had died there 73 years earlier.  The expedition spent a further four days taking video and photographic footage of the wreck before returning to Woods Hole to release the pictures to the waiting media.  Ballard commented that he totally underestimated what a frenzy the wreck’s discovery would cause and what a hunger there would be for images and information. A press conference was finally held on 9th September.

Mapping the Wreck of the RMS Titanic- Subsequent Dives

From that momentous moment, a flurry of activity was begun to photograph, film, and map and probe the wreck of Titanic.  Ballard returned to the wreck a year later in an expedition funded by the United States Navy.  During the descent to the ocean floor, the crew would play classical music, Vivaldi and Beethoven.  On this trip, it became clear how deeply sunk into the mud Titanic’s bow section was and that any attempt to lift her would prove fruitless. 

Since these early dives, many artefacts and pieces of the ship and her equipment have been brought to the surface to be exhibited to the public. Amongst the items which now form part of touring exhibitions are suitcases, musical instruments, bottles of champagne with the corks still intact, ship’s equipment, shoes, hats and even perfume samples which still have a scent. 

Even pieces of Titanic’s coal are sold on the internet as souvenirs.  Irish oceanographer, Rory Golden gives regular talks on his voyages to the wreck of Titanic.  He says the wreck is deteriorating at an increasingly fast rate and has seen many changes in the five years between his Titanic dives.  Debate rages as to whether more artefacts should be brought up from the wreck or whether it should be left as a grave site.  The appetite for images, articles and information about the Titanic would suggest that exploration is likely to continue for another 25 years. 

Dr Ballard visits Belfast

In October 2011 Dr Ballard visited Belfast, where he confirmed that he will be providing previously unseen Titanic material for the new Titanic Belfast visitor attraction. 

He also met with schoolchildren at the drawing offices of Harland and Wolff and described his discovery of the Titanic wreck.

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User Comments 7

I think that they shoudn't pull up ALL the artifacts..they should leave it as a grave site for all those people died in that tragic accident.And what brings this situation to my heart...it was on my BDAY!!
Sonya 26 June 2012
Hate to give off the wrong message here, but is it possible to buy replica's of some recovered things?
Scott Ward 19 April 2012
We need to leave Titanic alone and let the thousands of souls rest in peace. Would you want your mother dug up and stripped of her wedding ring?
John 14 April 2012
i was amazed by hearing about everything about this steamer an woundered if they ever found the jewel that she had .........
patricia autrey 09 April 2012
I Think that thr RMS Titanic should be explored more and there should be more money putinto the exploation of the infamos ship wreck
ieuan dallimore 28 March 2012
In 2002, while on a Disney cruise, my husband and I saw a show on the Titanic. We were told that a another ship called the Titanic was going to be built - what happened to that? Why hasn't the ship been built? They said they were going to build it just like the old Titanic, inside and out. Do you know why the ship hasn't been rebuilt? And do you know if one ever will be?
ann 06 July 2011
Bring it all up. There are some things that will not be able to be raised, and can be saved in the grave, but the articles and items down there are pieces of history and should be held, seen and enjoyed. Get some positive out of the disaster. The boat was made to enjoy, let her sail (in a way.)
Trent Connors 06 July 2011

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