Diving To the Wreck Of The Titanic- The Titanic Shipwreck


One hundred years ago,
Titanic was the ultimate passenger ship. And it was this tender ship,
the Nomadic, now being restored in Belfast, that actually ferried
many of the passengers from the dockside in Cherbourg, France,
to the superliner. Today, RMS Titanic is no longer
the ultimate passenger ship. Instead, the wreck
has become the ultimate dive. In 2000, I was selected
to be in an expedition to Titanic. It was to recover artefacts
from the seabed. What was going to be
very personal for me was that I came from the country
where Titanic was actually built and I was the first Irish diver
to visit it. It was going to be quite
an achievement for me. The Keldysh is the world’s biggest
scientific research vessel and the mother ship to the two Russian
submersibles we were leaving from. The size of each is 18 tonnes, but the capsule that you’re in
is less than six feet and not much more than this width. Three of you get inside it
and are crammed in for up to 12 hours. There’s no heating and you can feel
the cold very, very quickly once you start descending. And there are no toilet facilities
on board. It takes two and a half hours
just to fall through the water and you have no sensation of falling, because after 10-15 minutes
it’s completely black outside. The submarine starts to slow down. The captain of the sub starts
counting out 30 metres to the bottom. You’re looking out, and then you can see
the bottom of the Atlantic come up and it’s just… it’s just mud. You think,
“There’s not much to see here,” but as you lift off slowly across
the bottom, you see a starfish, and it’s incredible to think that
there’s a starfish 4,000 metres deep. The same sort of starfish
you can see off the beach here. As we move across the bottom –
there’s a sonar inside the submarine – we can see the bow of the Titanic
just there. This was the first time I went,
and as we got nearer and nearer, we bumped into this mudbank where
the bow of the Titanic is ploughed into. And as we slowly lift up
we see this great wall of steel. And there you are.
You’re looking at the Titanic. As the submarine pulls away, you’re looking down
on where the anchors are and you see the bow and you see
the rails and you’re there. You’re one of only maybe
a few hundred people that have been to see the Titanic
just… only feet away from you. All that’s left of the bridge – because
the wheelhouse area was made of wood – is this telemotor
that held the ship’s wheel. We left a plaque
from Titanic’s last port of call there. Thought for a few moments,
said a few prayers, then went to explore
the rest of the ship. To visit the Titanic once, you’d think
was a once in a lifetime experience, but I had an opportunity
five years later when I was invited to take part
in a second expedition to Titanic. And this time I was going to go back
to do a documentary about bringing two memorial plaques
from Belfast, Titanic’s city of birth. The robotic arm
carefully lifted out both plaques. Anatoly, the pilot,
left them side by side. After we left the plaques, we then moved
off and went along the officers’ deck, and all along there
the walls had fallen out and you could actually see
Captain Smith’s cabin. All around the wreck
I could see more and more decay. The upper deck structures
were weakening and falling down. The main mast,
which had collapsed before but was still intact when I saw it,
was now crumpling. And dropping down the side
we could see the portholes, the big glass windows of the staterooms. And then we went around and
we could see the propellers sticking out through the back part of the ship. We don’t go there anymore because that
section of the ship is too dangerous. Eventually you have to leave. And as the sub pulls away,
you’re looking back and you don’t want to go because you know it’s something
special that you have seen. The ship just disappears
into the darkness and you just lie back and think about
what you’ve just seen and experienced. It’s just something
that will always be in my mind and hopefully in the minds
of people that I tell the story too.

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