A recent Fox News broadcast about a decomposing shipwreck quickly became something of a trainwreck when host Brian Kilmeade floated some comments about raising the Titanic. Unsurprisingly, Twitter trolls were quick to surface, eager to point out that his suggestions simply don’t hold any water.
The incident occurred during a report on a recent expedition to the site of the famous wreck, which lies beneath 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) of water, some 600 kilometers (370 miles) off the coast of Newfoundland in the Atlantic.
Having remained unvisited for nearly 15 years, the colossal passenger liner was found in an unexpected state of decay, with expedition member Clare Fitzsimmons telling BBC News that “there are microbes on the shipwreck that are eating away the iron of the wreck itself, creating 'rusticle' structures, which is a much weaker form of the metal."
Despite near-freezing conditions, the abundant microbes are causing much of the metal to disintegrate, with historian Parks Stephenson adding that "the captain's bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts – and that's now gone."
"That whole deck house on that side is collapsing, taking with it the state rooms. And that deterioration is going to continue advancing."
Enter Kilmeade, who first suggests that “if we wanted to save it, we could have lifted it.” As ridiculous as this comment may be, it really was just the tip of the iceberg, as the pundit went on to explain just how he thought this could be achieved:
“You put balloons underneath it, and lift it up.”
Naturally, Twitter users wasted no time in airing their despair at these remarks.
While Kilmeade insisted that the idea of ballooning the Titanic to the surface has been “talked about”, he neglected to expand on exactly who had done this talking. Thankfully, one Twitter user has solved the mystery by revealing that the concept originated in a 1980 movie about raising the Titanic.
The conversation quickly took a political turn, with many suggesting that the whole idea may even be dumb enough to pique the interest of Donald Trump.
However, as Bobby Lewis points out, Kilmeade is not in fact the first person to propose raising the Titanic, and a number of attempts have previously been contemplated. The most ironic of these involved freezing the water around the ship in order to float it to the surface on an iceberg.
At first glance, the notion of filling the Titanic with ping-pong balls seems completely outrageous, and it’s likely the idea came from a 1949 Donald Duck cartoon, in which Donald rescues a sinking boat using exactly this method.
Amazingly, though, a Danish engineer named Karl Kroyer later used this technique in real life, employing 27 million plastic balls to raise a ship that had sunk in Kuwait’s harbor in 1964.
However, the ship in question was considerably smaller than the Titanic and also lay at a much shallower depth. Immense water pressure, combined with the rapidly decomposing state of the wreck, rule out the possibility of successfully applying this method – or indeed any other – on the Titanic itself.
Aside from the impossible practicalities of raising the Titanic, many commenters have pointed out that the wreck is also an underwater grave for some 1,500 souls and that lifting it to the surface would be highly disrespectful and insensitive.
In spite of these concerns, a large section of the ship’s hull was in fact raised by salvage company RMS Titanic Inc. back in 1998. The move drew heavy criticism from survivors and their relatives, who believed those who had died in the tragedy should be left undisturbed.
Premier Exhibitions, which owns RMS Titanic, held the sole salvage rights to the ship until it went bankrupt in 2017, which means that if anyone did want to raise the Titanic, legally they’d probably be allowed to.