Titanic experts and history buffs are taking a wait-and-see approach to an expedition currently exploring the famous shipwreck, saying it’s too early to tell whether or not anything new will be revealed.
High-resolution images taken by a pair of robots were released by Expedition Titanic on the weekend after travelling to the wreck site from St. John’s, N.L., on Aug. 22.
One of the photos shows the Titanic’s rusty bow from the starboard side, another shows a bird’s-eye view of the bow, in what expedition officials say are the clearest images to date.
The vice-president of the Titanic Historical Society said some of the society’s Titanic buffs have begun online discussions about the expedition.
But Karen Kamuda said the society’s over 4,000 members worldwide tend to be “very sophisticated” and have high expectations when it comes to new information about the underwater wreck.
“It’s sort of like, ’been there, done that,”’ Kamuda said from Springfield, MA.
“They want to see something new and of course it’s too early to see something new.” They’re waiting for something.”
However Kamuda said the expedition’s stated goal of mapping the debris field around the ship could provide something for her members to get excited about.
“To be able to see where items are out in the debris field and to be able to see what is where… things like that I think would be of interest,” she said.
Expedition leaders say up to half of the debris field around the ocean liner has never been examined. The team hopes to make a “virtual map” of the area which will eventually be made available to the public.
Co-expedition leader Dave Gallo has called the robot technology being used to capture images “the great-great-grandchildren” of the equipment first used to explore the Titanic when it was discovered under the sea in 1985.
Titanic expert and author George Behe is also following the expedition’s progress but said the images he’s seen so far are similar to those taken in the past.
“The true importance of the present expedition will be determined by whether or not it fulfills its intention of photographing the entire debris field,” Behe said from his home in Mount Clemens, MI.
That goal was thrown for a loop Sunday when bad weather from Hurricane Danielle sent the 76-metre Jean Charcot vessel and its 30 crew members back to St. John’s.
“Our understanding is that Hurricane Danielle is forecast to pass very near to our present work area,” a statement released by officials said.
“High winds and seas will prohibit our ability to launch and recover robots and ultimately will endanger the ship, crew, and team.
“Therefore we will be leaving the survey area to move to safer ground.”
The crew were expecting a delay of a few days before heading back out to sea.
Behe said he first became a Titanic buff as a child when he discovered a book on his grandmother’s shelf about the doomed vessel.
“The thing that grabbed me was that the disaster took so long to unfold,” Behe said, noting when the ship struck the iceberg most people on board didn’t even feel the impact.
“People were joking and standing around smoking and laughing on deck and talking,” Behe said.
“It was almost like a play unfolding, gradually.”
The saga of the Titanic — the ship that went down in the frigid waters of the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg in 1912 — continues to capture the imagination of the public all these years later.
In total, 1,522 people died when the ship sank. The last survivor died in England in 2009.
Images of the submerged ship were featured in James Cameron’s 1997 movie Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Behe said people are also drawn to the story of the Titanic because they wonder how they would react in the same situation. There was not enough room in the ship’s lifeboats for all the passengers and many were left to die.
“It horrified me,” Behe said.