WASHINGTON: The Titanic is disappearing. The iconic ocean liner, which was sunk by an iceberg, is now slowly succumbing to metal-eating bacteria: holes invade the wreck, the crows’ nest has already disappeared, and the railing on the bow of the iconic ship could collapse anywhere. moment.
In the fight against the inevitable, an expedition by an underwater exploration company to the wreck site could begin this week, beginning with what is expected to be an annual chronicle of the ship’s decline. With the help of wealthy tourists, experts hope to learn more about the ship, as well as the underwater ecosystem from which the shipwrecks arise.
“The ocean is taking over this, and we need to document it before everything disappears or turns dark,” Stockton Rush, president of OceanGate Expeditions, said Friday of a ship that sank in the North Atlantic.
The 109-year-old ocean liner is riddled with deep-sea currents and bacteria that consume hundreds of pounds of iron every day. Some have predicted that the ship could disappear in decades when the holes in the hull yawn and the parts dissolve.
The 30-meter-long front mast has collapsed since the ship was discovered in 1985. The crows’ nest from which a lookout yelled: “Iceberg, right in front of us!” He disappeared. And the aft deck, where passengers huddled when the ship sank, folded in on itself.
The gym near the grand staircase collapsed. And a 2019 expedition discovered that the captain’s enchanted bathtub, visible after the outer wall of the captain’s cabin fell, has disappeared.
“At some point you’d expect the very iconic bow railing to collapse,” Rush said.
The company has outfitted its titanium and carbon fiber submersible with high-resolution cameras and multibeam sonar equipment, Rush said. The decay log can help scientists predict the fate of other deep-sea shipwrecks, including those that sank during the world wars.
OceanGate also plans to document marine life at the site, such as crabs and corals. Hundreds of species have only been seen in the wreck, Rush said.
Another focus will be the debris field and its artifacts. David Concannon, an OceanGate consultant who has been involved in several expeditions to the Titanic, said he once followed a two-kilometer trail “of light debris and small personal items such as shoes and luggage.”
Archaeologists and marine biologists participate in the expedition. But OceanGate also brings in around 40 people who paid to come. They will take turns operating the sonar equipment and performing other tasks on the 5-person submersible.
They finance the expedition by spending between $ 100,000 and $ 150,000 each.
“Someone paid $ 28 million to take Blue Origin to space, not even to the moon,” said Renata Rojas, 53, of Hoboken, New Jersey. “That is cheap in comparison.”
Obsessed with the Titanic since childhood, Rojas said she began studying oceanography in hopes of one day discovering the wreck. But she found herself that same year, prompting her to embark on a banking career in her place.
“I have to see it with my own eyes to know it’s really real,” she said.
Bill Sauder, a Titanic historian who previously led an investigation for the company that owns the salvage rights to the ship, said he doubted the expedition “would find anything on the cover.” But he said that he would improve the world’s understanding of the wreck’s structure and Trümmerfeld, for example, that he would like to receive confirmation of where he believes the ship’s kennels are.
OceanGate won’t be taking anything from the site, making this expedition far less controversial than another company’s now-sunk plans to salvage the radio from the Titanic.
RMS Titanic, the company that owns the salvage rights to the wreck, wanted to shut down the radio equipment because it had sent out the Titanic’s distress calls. But the proposal sparked a lawsuit with the US government last year. The expedition was said to be in violation of federal law and a pact with Great Britain to leave the wreck undisturbed as it was a burial site.
All but about 700 of the 2,200 passengers and crew members died after the ship hit an iceberg in 1912.
The legal battle ended after the company postponed its plans indefinitely due to complications from the coronavirus pandemic. But they may not all agree on this next mission.
In 2003, Ed Kamuda, then president of Titanic, said