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Titanic: Rediscovered, Still Holding Secrets

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Captain Goes Down with the Ship
Passengers Famously Separated by Class
Ship Historic Before It Sailed
Ship Not Unsinkable After All
Still Capturing the Popular Imagination

The giant ocean liner Titanic, which sank on April 15, 1912, was presumed lost for several decades but was eventually discovered in 1985. Since that discovery, several expeditions have brought back artifacts and images galore from the wreckage on the Atlantic Ocean floor.

On September 1, 1985, a team of French and American explorers discovered the wreck. One of the team was Dr. Robert Ballard, a famed underwater explorer who returned the following year in the one-man submersible Alvin and gained further evidence of what happened when the boat sank.

Initial theories were that the boat sank intact. What Ballard and his team saw, however, contradicted that: They saw a ship that had split in two. The bow rested 1,970 feet from the stern, and the two parts faced in opposite directions. The bow was found to be embedded 60 feet into the ocean floor. The stern was found to be more damaged, likely due to an implosion caused by release on impact of air trapped in the decks.

Ballard didn't bring back any artifacts, but other expeditions did. More than 6,000 mementoes now rest in the hands of public and private collectors, most notably the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England.

Film director and adventurer James Cameron, who directed the 1997 hit Titanic, also produced a 2003 documentary titled Ghosts of the Abyss, which featured new footage of the ship from the ocean floor.

Private expeditions, though costing tens of thousands of dollars, are routine.

 

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