For more than 73 years, nobody knew the answer to the question, where is the Titanic? This was, of course, the ship that sank in the Atlantic Ocean on the night of April 15, 1912. The world discovered the answer when a joint American-French expedition team found the wreck site about 370 miles southeast of Mistaken Point which is in at the southern end of the Newfoundland Peninsula. The ship lies in two large pieces about 2.5 miles at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s wreck site is about 963 to the northeast of New York City.
Early Efforts to Find and Raise the Ship
A number of plans were introduced after the 1912 sinking to bring the ship to the surface. Some proposals called for the use of hydrogen to raise the ship's remains, but even if such a proposal were scientifically possible, it would not be at all practical to do so. Other similar proposals called for use of ice, but this idea likely would have failed as well.
A greater problem was that nobody knew exactly where the wreck site was. During the 1950s, a salvage company proposed to set off underwater explosives and then use sonar to find the ship. However, this method was unsuccessful. During the 1980s, a Texas millionaire named Jack Grimm established an expedition to find the ship’s remains, but three efforts to locate the site failed, despite the use of some of the most advanced equipment available at the time.
Finding the Ship
The quest to find the Titanic ended when a team led by French oceanographer Jean-Louis Michel and American oceanographer Robert Ballard used sonar to find the ship. The explorers used a method whereby they crossed over and scanned large sections of the seabed before finding narrowing down the location. The team first found a field containing debris before finding the actual ship itself. The reported coordinates of the site are 41°43′55″N 49°56′45″W, which is 13 miles from where Titanic’s fourth officer Joseph Boxhall had originally estimated based on his last reading before the ship sank.
An unmanned submersible caught the first images of the Titanic wreck, and these were first published in National Geographic in 1985. Ballard made the first manned dive to the site, and this was captured for National Geographic’s Secrets of the Titanic, which is one of the best Titanic documentaries made.
The Ship Split in Two
Most who have seen recent documentaries and the James Cameron movie know that the Titanic split in two before sinking. However, until 1985, most assumed that the Titanic had sunk in one piece. Ballard’s discovery showed that the ship had broken in two, and the bow and the stern are now separated by a debris field of about two miles.
The bow has remained largely intact, and many of the expeditions to the wreck site since the 1985 discovery have focused on the bow section. The stern, on the other hand, retained much of its air and exploded on impact with the seabed. Most of its remains collapsed on impact.
The important story of Titanic in 2012 is not only that the famous movie about the ship is being released in 3D, but also that the ship is falling apart. The ship’s body is covered by life-forms that appear rust-like and are eating away the ship’s metal. The ship is also subject to powerful deep-water currents. Moreover, many exploration teams have visited the wreck, and some scientists have blamed negligent acts by some of these teams for the ship’s decline.
One scientist has estimated that the ship will disappear from the bottom of the ocean in about 15 to 20 years.