By John Ensor •
Updated: 03 Nov 2023 • 17:50
Photo: The wreck of the Titanic.
Credit: Courtesy of NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island (NOAA/IFE/URI)/Public Domain-Creative Commons.
Despite the world’s most famous ship sinking over 111 years ago, the Titanic’s saga continues to captivate people around the world.
The year 1985 marked a monumental point in maritime history when on September 1, 1985, the world’s most illustrious shipwreck was located.
Following the Titanic‘s untimely end on April 15, 1912, multiple early salvage propositions emerged, none of which were feasible due to its unknown location and condition of the wreck.
Inventive yet unworkable, these concepts ranged from employing balloons to electromagnets to raise the vessel. Each was foiled by practical, technological, or financial shortcomings, as well as a lack of precise information regarding the oceanic grave site.
July 1953 saw Risdon Beazley Ltd attempt the initial earnest salvage, which did not succeed. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, further financial issues led to the abandonment of many other schemes.
Dr Ballard, who would later become synonymous with the Titanic’s discovery, began contemplating the search in 1973. His maiden expedition in 1977 with the Seaprobe ended abruptly when their equipment failed.
Texan oil tycoon Jack Grimm’s trio of expeditions from 1980-1983 also proved fruitless, although it was later revealed that his equipment had unknowingly come within very close proximity to the Titanic. However, Dr Ballard’s unwavering resolve led him to innovate new technologies and methodologies, culminating in the Argo/Jason system.
In 1982, Dr Ballard’s pitch to the Navy for Titanic’s search was met with a condition: locate and survey two lost submarines first, only then would they agree to finance his Titanic search. His success in finding USS Thresher & USS Scorpion in 1984 paved the way for the subsequent quest for the Titanic.
In 1985 following further investigations of USS Scorpion, which due to the intense pressure had imploded, Ballard had only 12 days left to pursue his dream of locating the Titanic. Dr Ballard enlisted French engineer Jean-Louis Michel and his team to aid in the search. The search began in earnest on August 22 aboard the R/V Knorr, the Argo was deployed, scouring the seabed in hopes of locating the Titanic’s debris trail.
The strategy paid off when a boiler, mirroring those from 1911 images, emerged on the monitors at 12:48 am on September 1, 1985. The ship’s remains were found in two major segments, surrounded by a vast debris field covering about eight square miles.
The discovery sent ripples across the globe, as Argo broadcast the Titanic’s first glimpses since its tragic sinking 73 years earlier.
The fascination that surrounds the Titanic’s final resting place is still an point of intrigue today. Earlier this year, an ill-fated expedition to view the wreckage ended in disaster when the ‘Titan‘ submersible imploded killing all occupants.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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