A well-funded 20-day research expedition intends to create a 3D digital map of the entire TITANIC wreck site.
After the wreck of the TITANIC was discovered in 1985 by a team led by oceanographer Robert Ballard, it has been the object of an ongoing argument over whether the famous ship and its remains should be salvaged or left undisturbed as a memorial to the over 1,500 lost that night in April 1912. It has become one of the most fiercely disputed underwater sites in the world.
Robert Ballard and many in the scientific community have been sharp critics of RMS Titanic Inc., a private Atlanta-based company that holds the legal rights to salvage the wreck. Over 5,000 objects have been recovered from the site since 1987.
Given this history, one wonders if the split between scientists and treasure-hunters has been repaired.
On August 23 the expedition ship JEAN CHARCOT sails from St. John’s, Newfoundland. On board, executives of RMS Titanic Inc. share the deck with scientists and specialists, including archeologists from the U.S. National Park Service and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, and experts from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, the very agency for which Robert Ballard once worked. Woods Hole has officially supported Ballard’s claims that Titanic should be left alone.
Shortly before JEAN CHARCOT was to depart on her 350 kilometre journey to the wreck site, Chris Davino, the president of RMS Titanic Inc., was reported to say, “What’s unique about this expedition is that it brings parties from both sides of that debate together . . . groups that have put forward strong points of view over time about how Titanic should be tended to. It was always my dream to bring all of these parties to the table.”
Robert Ballard, who is now the director of the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography University of Rhode Island, was not invited.
The wreck is reportedly decaying, and the mission will give archaeologists a chance to properly document the entire site, much of which has apparently never been examined. They plan to “virtually raise” the wreck in digital images in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking in April 2012. Eventually, a 3D model of the site will be launched on the internet. It is reported that on this voyage, no artifacts will be recovered.
Thanks to sources: BBC, Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Independent
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.