“The first thing I saw emerging from the darkness was a huge wall of steel with rivets, towering a hundred feet above us. I didn’t look down at Titanic, I looked up at it. Nothing was small about it.”
Robbert Ballard still vividly remembers discovering the doomed ocean liner in 1986. More than 80 minutes of video footage of those first trips to the wreck has now been released. They were made with Ballard’s manned submersible and a smaller remote-controlled submersible probe that could go into the wreck.
The bow of the ship is clearly recognizable on the images. A panoramic tour of the wreck clearly shows how much damage the sinking caused: shutters were pushed open by the force of the water, the bridge was swept away, not a single one of the four proud chimneys remained standing. Elsewhere, a still relatively intact crystal chandelier dangles.
Here are some of the released images:
The Titanic was wrecked in the early hours of April 15, 1912 on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. More than 1,500 of the more than 2,200 people on board were killed. For decades it was unclear where exactly the wreck had ended up on the kilometre-deep ocean floor.
Ballard discovered the Titanic in September 1985. These images are from eleven months later, when he was able to descend to the wreck for the first time. Much of the material has never been shown to the public before. It is now being released in honor of the 25th anniversary of the film director James Cameron made about the disaster.
In an interview with the AP news agency, Ballard says that the first descent made a deep impression on him, although the submarine could only stay for a few minutes due to a malfunction. “When we went back to the surface, we saw the portholes. It was like people were watching us. Spooky.”
Human remains were never found, but the traces left by the victims stayed with Ballard. “You saw pairs of shoes of people who had died. Like tombstones on the seabed. Also one of a mother with baby shoes. An impressive image.”
“I think everyone is wondering: what would I have done? Would I have done everything to save my life? Or, like Titanic designer Thomas Andrews, would I have given my life jacket to a female passenger and left it in the saloon? stayed put while the ship sank? All aspects of human nature played a role here.”
Watch the entire released video here:
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