The Titanic has been a source of fascination from the day it sank until today. However, for the better part of a century, its location was masked by the Atlantic Ocean’s impenetrable depths.
The ship is currently lodged 12,600 feet below sea level. The Titanic split into two parts, and both are resting 370 miles from the coast of the province of Newfoundland in Canada. Dr. Robert Ballard finally found the liner’s wreckage in 1985 after missing for a good 73 years.
The ships’ extreme depth protected it from scavengers and entrepreneurs until it was found in 1985. Since 2012, the wreckage has been protected by an international treaty.
Unsuccessful Attempts to Find the Titanic
Many attempted to find the ship, but its depth made it difficult to find. At 12,600 feet below, one must know the exact location since exploring at that depth is very difficult.
In the years closely following the liner’s sinking, wealthy relatives of the deceased funded expeditions to find the wreckage. However, with the technology of the time, they were unable to reach the required depths.
Previous explorers had relied on the reports of the Carpathia, a ship that had helped rescue the survivors of the Titanic. However, the crew’s estimates turned out to be off by about 13 miles.
Even had they found the wreckage, the various interested parties would probably not have been able to bring the Titanic to the surface. Some of the far-fetched ideas floated (if you pardon the pun) at the time included the use of magnets to force the ship up and the use of balloons. Needless to say, neither would have worked.
The passage of time did not do much to render plans for recovery more sensible. In the 1970s, proposals to fill the Titanic with wax or turn it into a massive iceberg were considered.
These ideas were impractical. However, they were also pointless as the wreckage was yet to be found due to its resting place’s extreme depth.
Finding the Titanic
The technology to plummet the depths of the Atlantic Ocean became available in the late 1970s, and with it, more concrete plans to find the Titanic were hatched. In 1978 National Geographic planned an expedition to find it. However, once the costs became apparent, the project was not pursued.
The next attempt was made by eccentric Texas oilman Jack Grimm, who had previously funded attempts to find Noah’s Ark and the Loch Ness Monster.
He searched mostly in the wrong place, though the expedition did pass over the actual wreckage at one point but failed to detect it. However, Grimm’s team did a fine job mapping the ocean surface around the area where the Titanic sank and eased the Titanic’s eventual discovery.
Oceanographer Robert Ballard hit paydirt in his subsequent expedition. Ballard had a secret weapon in his attempts to find the Titanic: the US Navy. They helped him develop advanced technology as long as it was kept classified and the Navy had exclusive rights to the technology in the future.
With this substantial assistance in hand, the expedition found the remains of the Titanic on September 1, 1985.
The State of the Titanic
They found that the ship was now surrounded by debris on all sides. Hundreds of thousands of items contained within the boat had spilled all around, and many were now lodged soundly in the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
The debris field surrounding the ship was significantly larger than the Titanic itself. Over the years, thousands of these items have been salvaged and displayed to the public. However, they make up a fraction of the things still unrecovered.
However, though the ship was easily recognizable, it was not in one piece. The bow and the stern had been completely severed and had set underwater roughly 2000 feet apart. Also, the stern had been completely ruined and was virtually unrecognizable.
It was also heavily rusted. These two complicating factors dashed some entrepreneurs’ dreams of bringing the ship to the surface and opening it to the public.
Continued Use and Misuse of the Titanic
Over the years since the discovery of the Titanic, technology has rendered access to the location of the wreck more accessible.
The international community took action to protect it and the sanctity of the deceased aboard. Since 2001, the wreck has been protected by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Therefore, it is unlikely to be raised in the future.
However, before it came into effect, people continued to visit the Titanic and use it for their purposes. One couple won a free dive to the remains of the ship and used it as an opportunity to get married underwater. By the time the Treaty was activated in 2012, 140 people had visited the site of the Titanic.
Since then, most activity around its remains has been related to scientific and archaeological exploration. May it remain so.