New 4K Images Of The Titanic Suggest The Wreck Could Soon Disappear

A new 4K image of the Titanic's wreck from the August 2019 expedition. © Atlantic Productions

Things just keep on getting worse and worse for the Titanic. Over 107 years since the “unsinkable” ship sank, a manned submersible has scoured the seabed to catch the first-ever 4K images of RMS Titanic, only to reveal that the iconic shipwreck is in an extremely sorry state.

An international team of explorers captured the high-quality images in early August during a series of five dives with manned submersibles. Quietly resting at a depth of 3,800 meters (~12,500 feet) in the bitterly cold waters of the North Atlantic, the shipwreck hasn’t been seen for over 14 years. However, it appears to have been a tough few years. Much of the shipwreck is slowly but surely being dissolved by rust, sea salt, bacteria, and flocks of deep-sea creatures.

“The most shocking area of deterioration was the starboard side of the officer’s quarters, where the captain’s quarters were,” Parks Stephenson, a Titanic historian, said in a statement.

© Atlantic Productions

“Captain’s bathtub is a favorite image [pictured below in 2003] among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone. That whole deck hole on that side is collapsing taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing.”

Using a submersible camera system, the team also performed photogrammetry imaging on the wreck, which will be used to assess the ship’s state and make it possible to visualize the wreck using virtual reality technology. The expedition team will publish the full results of their survey alongside a documentary film produced by Atlantic Productions.

RMS Titanic was the largest ship in the world at the time and was believed by many to be unsinkable, although it was never actually billed or advertised using the word “unsinkable”.

A view of the bathtub in Captain Smith's bathroom captured during a 2003 expedition led by the NOAA. Lori Johnson/RMS Titanic Expedition 2003/NOAA-OE

On the night of April 14, 1912, the ship hit a giant iceberg around 600 kilometers (375 miles) south of Newfoundland. By the small hours of April 15, 1912, the liner had sunk, just five days after setting off from Southampton in the UK towards New York. Around 1,500 people died, either by drowning or perishing in the freezing waters, although an estimated 705 people managed to survive.

The wreck of the Titanic was only discovered in 1985, over 70 years after the disaster, during a mission by the US military. Aside from its many depictions in popular culture, the ship has since been the subject of a number of archaeological and scientific projects. 

However, as these new images show, the physical remains of that history are starting to slowly fade away.

“The future of the wreck is going to continue to deteriorate over time, it’s a natural process," noted Lori Johnson, a scientist who worked on the project. "These are natural types of bacteria, so the reason that the deterioration process ends up being quite a bit faster, is a group of bacteria, a community working symbiotically to eat, if you will, the iron and the sulfur.” 

 

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