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First Titanic Images In 14 Years Show Rapidly Deteriorating Shipwreck

Caitlyn Clancey 23 Aug 2019

For the first time in 14 years, divers returned to the site of the sunken RMS Titanic, capturing images of the wreck that paint a picture of the natural decay that is slowly destroying what's left of this magnificent ship, CNN reported.

With what experts can gather from these new images, it will likely only be a matter of time before the "unsinkable" ship is lost forever.

The Titanic first set sail from its dock in England back in April of 1912.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RMS_Titanic_sea_trials_April_2,_1912_(cropped).jpg

Embarking on its maiden voyage, the 882.5-foot-long vessel was described by some as being the "ship of dreams", largely for its unprecedented size and its designer's promise that absolutely nothing could sink it.

However, just a few days into its trip from Southampton to New York City, the ship famously struck an iceberg and sank, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 of its 2,223 passengers and crew.

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For decades, the wreckage was unreachable by the various expeditions that sought to uncover it.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Titanic_sinking,_painting_by_Willy_St%C3%B6wer.jpg

Unpredictable weather in the North Atlantic, combined with the insurmountable depth at which the ship sank and conflicting reports of where it sank, allowed the Titanic to remain lost.

However, in 1985, 73 years after it sank, National Geographic explorer Robert Ballard discovered the ship's final resting pace, 4,000 meters below the ocean's surface. This discovery has allowed for other expeditions after his to return to the site.

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Now, divers have once again visited Titanic, a full 14 years since it was last photographed.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RMS_Titanic_3.jpg

Five dives were completed this month by a team from Triton Submarines, made up of experts, scientists, and a National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration.

Using specially adapted cameras, they captured incredible 4k footage of the wreckage which will in turn be used for a new documentary from Atlantic Productions.

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While spectacular images, this updated view on the Titanic shows a rapidly decaying ship lying at the bottom of the Atlantic.

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According to Patrick Lagey, the president and co-founder of Triton Submarines, the ship is effectively being swallowed up by the ocean floor:

"The most fascinating aspect was seeing how the Titanic is being consumed by the ocean and returning to its elemental form while providing a refuge for a remarkably diverse number of animals."

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Members of the expedition explained the changing sea-current and "sweeping eddies" are having a serious effect on the ship.

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"Salt corrosion, metal-eating bacteria, and deep current action are having the greatest impact on the wreck," Triton revealed in a press release.

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The significant damage spotted on Titanic is only going to continue to worsen as time goes on.

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Scientist Lori Johnson explained that what we're seeing in this footage is all part of a "natural process."

"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 sulphur," she said.

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The rapid decay has ultimately rid Titanic of some of its most iconic aspects.

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"Probably the most shocking area of deterioration was the starboard side of the officer's quarters, where the captain's quarters are," Titanic historian Parks Stephenson said. "The captain's bathtub is a favorite image among Titanic enthusiasts and now that's gone."

He added, "That whole deck hole on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing."

Watch the footage below.

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While capturing the eye-opening footage was a major part of the dive, it wasn't the only reason for returning to Titanic.

According to an official statement from the dive team, a wreath was laid at the ship's resting place and a ceremony was held "in honor of those who lost their lives on that fateful night in 1912."

h/t: CNN, National Georgraphic, The Hill

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