Explorers have conducted the first dive to the Titanic in nearly 15 years, revealing “shocking” deterioration in the state of the wreck.
Using high-tech imaging, new video and photographs have been released, after an international team of explorers made a series of dives with manned submersibles in early August to survey and photograph the ship.
The wreck is 3800 metres underwater on the Atlantic sea bed.
The first 4K quality images of the ship were captured during the expedition and will be published alongside a documentary being made by film company Atlantic Productions.
While parts of the wreck were in surprisingly good condition, other features had been lost to the sea.
The worst decay was seen on the starboard side of the officers’ quarters, while some of the features of the captain’s quarters have completely decayed.
Titanic historian Parks Stephenson, who was on the expedition, said the ‘‘whole deck hole on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing”.
“The captain’s bath tub is a favourite image among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone.”
Bad weather in the Atlantic and strong underwater currents made the dives difficult. Getting entangled with the wreck was a very real risk for the team.
“Titanic is returning to nature”
Parts of the wreck are now deteriorating rapidly
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 21, 2019
Footage from the expedition shows the ship’s bow covered in rusticles, a formation of bacteria that slowly consumes the metal.
The iron-eating microbes have taken over the ship, and eventually dissolve the iron into a fine powder which are carried away by ocean currents. One expedition concluded that there would be nothing left of the ship by 2030.
“Titanic is returning to nature,” Mr Stephenson told the BBC.
Victor Vescovo, the CEO of Caladan Oceanic, the private company behind the expedition, said “it’s a big wreck, I wasn’t quite prepared for how large it was”.
It was extraordinary to see it all, and the most amazing moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible reflected off a portal and came right back,” he said.
“It was like the ship was winking at me. It was amazing.”
While on the site, the expedition team laid a wreath and held a short ceremony in memory of those who died.
The RMS Titanic has sat on the ocean floor since 1912 after colliding with an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
More than 1500 people died when the ship, which was carrying 2224 passengers and crew, sank under the command of Captain Edward Smith, who went down with it.
The ship was the largest in service at the time and was touted as “unsinkable”. It now lies in two main pieces about 600 metres apart, which proved challenging for the expedition team.