The famous British passenger liner, RMS Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, is being studied once again. The Titanic – the biggest ship in its time – was on its first trip, heading from Southampton to New York. 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers and crewmen died after the ship struck an iceberg.
An international group of deep-sea explorers examined the century old wreck around 370 miles (600km) from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, which sits on the Atlantic floor nearly 4,000 meters (roughly 13,000ft) below the surface.
Harsh ocean factors break down the wreckage
Some of the wreck was still in relatively decent condition, whereas other elements had been claimed by the unforgiving nature of the ocean. The most profound decay was located at the starboard side (right side) of the officers’ quarters.
Parks Stephenson, a Titanic historian, said that he was stunned by some of the conditions that were found during the dive.
“The captain’s bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone,” said Stephenson. “That whole deck house on that side is collapsing, taking with it the state rooms. And that deterioration is going to continue advancing.”
The lounge roof of the bow area is likely to be the next part to disintegrate according to the historian, as fierce ocean currents, salt corrosion, and bacteria continue to eat away at the remains of the ship.
In 1985 an American-French team found the Titanic wreck site. In 1987, the first salvage expedition took place where they gathered around 1,800 artefacts. Filmmaker James Cameron explored the wreck in 1995 and used footage in the Titanic movie. 1998 saw the first ever tourist dive at the site. In 2010, autonomous robots mapped out the wreckage. The site was then protected by Unesco in 2012.
The latest dives were performed with a 4.6 meter long, 3.7 meter high submersible called the DSV Limiting Factor. The expedition was executed by the same group who recently achieved the deepest ever ocean dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench.
In spite of the almost freezing temperatures, complete darkness, and extreme pressure, scientists also found that several creatures had made the wreck their home. According to scientist Clare Fitzsimmons of Newcastle University, this is playing a part in the deterioration of the ship.
“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,” explained Fitzsimmons.