The Titanic, which has been resting for 107 years on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, is in a state of advanced degradation, as shown by unseen images captured by a team of divers.
During the month of August, the American explorer Victor Vescovo went five times near the wreck, at 3810 meters under the surface of the water.
He was supported by a Titanic expert as well as a team from Atlantic Productions, which is preparing a documentary about the British transatlantic liner that sank in 1912.
It’s a big wreck, said Victor Vescovo. I was not quite prepared for his size.
The Titanic landed in two pieces, about 600 meters apart, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, after hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912.
He then made his maiden voyage between Southampton, England, and New York, with 2200 passengers on board.
First images in 14 years
The wreck, which is about 600 kilometers from Newfoundland, was first sighted in 1985. A team went there by submarine the following year.
The Titanic received further visits later, such as collecting artifacts or recreating the three-dimensional structure .
The 4K images brought back by Atlantic Productions in August, and unveiled this week, are the first in 14 years to give an overview of the condition of the ship.
The specialized equipment used will not only assess its state of preservation, but also observe the wreck in augmented reality and virtual reality.
Nature takes back its rights
The rapid deterioration of the Titanic surprised the experts who viewed the images. In 14 years, iconic parts of the famous liner have simply disappeared.
The captain’s bathtub is one of Titanic’s favorite images, and now it’s gone.
Parks Stephenson, historian
This section of the ship, where the officers’ quarters and the captain’s quarters were, is also the most damaged part of the wreck.
T”he entire bridge on this side collapses, dragging cabins with it, Parks Stephenson confirms. And the deterioration will continue to progress.”
At nearly 4000 meters deep, the temperature of the water is close to freezing point. The ocean currents and eddies are hard for the wreck. The salinity of the water also contributes to the corrosion of the structure.
“The wreck will continue to deteriorate over time. It’s a natural process,” confirms scientist Lori Johnson.
Bacteria are also eating the metal of the wreck, she warns.
“These are natural types of bacteria,” says Lori Johnson. “The reason why the process of deterioration ends up being a little faster is that they work in community, in symbiosis, to eat iron and sulfur.”
One type of metal-eating bacteria bears the name Halomonas titanicae , since they were identified on a patch from the wreck in 1991.
Some parts of the structure have since become so fragile that they could be reduced to dust at the slightest disturbance.
In return, other sections of the wreck surprised scientists by their good condition.
Researchers do not know how long the wreckage of the Titanic, protected by UNESCO since 2012, will completely disappear.
They will first have to measure the erosion of different types of metal subject to the conditions of the Atlantic Ocean.
The results of their analyzes will be unveiled at the same time as the documentary produced by Atlantic Productions.
In addition to predicting the time remaining at the Titanic, the expedition will once again document the last witness to the tragedy that claimed 1500 lives, since only the wreckage remains, all survivors having since succumbed.