Deep-Sea Divers Return to the Titanic to Make Stunning & Sad Discovery.
April 10, 1912, The RMS Titanic sets sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. Less than five days later, the unsinkable ship would be descending into the dark depths of the ocean after having struck an iceberg. Now one of the most famous tragedies in naval history, we are joining the two-man crew aboard the Limiting Factor to revisit the historical ship more than 12,500 feet below the waves.
Keep on reading to see a side of the Titanic that James Cameron hasn’t even shown you!
A Voyage Unlike Any Other
While we associate the Titanic with the tragic collision that took more than 1,500 lives, there is more to know about the vessel. For starters, the Titanic had actually survived its original port of call, a trip from Cherbourg, France, across the English Channel where passengers were gathered. A few days later, everything would change.
Let’s peel back from the more tragic aspect of this story to understand the historical roots.
March 1909: Construction Begins
In March of 1909, the RMS Titanic would officially enter its construction phase. The second of three Olympic liners to be crafted, including the Britannic and Olympic, the Titanic was supposed to be a crowning addition to the White Star Line fleet.
In order to compete with rivals like Cunard, the team at White Star Line would decide to make the Titanic as big and opulent as possible — for their wealthy passengers.
A Powerful Hull Breeds Confidence
Construction work on the titanic lasted until the end of March 1909, ending two years of rigorous work. There were more than 2,000 steel plates that reached across more than six feet while reaching nearly 30 feet in length. Weighing in at over 1,200 tons, the Titanic was a dangerous project to work on.
More than 246 workers would be injured while building the Titanic.
More Prepared Than Acknowledged
While we associate the Titanic with seaward failure, the truth is that the crew had been careful. The Titanic had seen several sea trials beginning on April 2, 1912. After competing in and successfully finishing a series of sea trials, the Titanic would be certified and judged as completely ocean-worthy.
More Lifeboats Aboard Than Required
One of the most notable targets of ire for critics of the RMS Titanic is its collection of lifeboats. Despite leaving many individuals to die in the cold waters, the Titanic would feature 14 wooden lifeboats and four lifeboats as well as a pair of cutters. The Titanic was equipped to handle 64 wooden lifeboats which would have carried 4,000 people.
Tragically, the White Star Line would decide than 20 lifeboats were ‘more than required’.
Notable Manifest of Major Individuals
What makes the Titanic a particularly historic event is the vast array of socialites and well-to-do individuals who were aboard when the vessel plunged into the sea. Among the most well-known passengers on the Titanic were Leontine Aubart, John Jacob Astor IV, and Benjamin Guggenheim. No, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character from Titanic was not a real person.
Meet Benjamin Guggenheim
Benjamin Guggenheim was a notable businessman when he passed away aboard the RMS Titanic. Guggenheim had been accompanied by his mistress, singer Leontine Aubart, and his personal entourage which included a valet, a maid, and a chauffeur. At the time, Benjamin had a net worth exceeding $4 million, a hefty sum at the time.
Tragically, Guggenheim and his entire party would pass away on their fateful journey.
April 14, 2020: Striking the Iceberg
While there were many well-to-do individuals aboard the Titanic, the vast majority of casualties came from the poor section of the craft. By the time that the Titanic had taken on water, it was too late to save everyone. The Titanic would switch angles which led to increased water flow through the hull, thus harming many of those poor individuals that stayed below decks.
Following the vessel’s tragic demise, it would take more than 70 years for the ship to be found once again.
The Crew of Limiting Factor
Now we get into the meat and potatoes of our story, the two-member team of the Limiting Factor mini-submarine. Led by Victor Vescovo, the Limiting Factor intended to map out and photograph the current state of the Titanic. This crew would go on to witness how the Titanic had further degraded in the years since its rediscovery.
The Titanic at 12,500 Feet
Tragically, the Titanic has begun to degrade with increasing frequency. Patrick Lahey, a member of the Limiting Factor, would say, “The most fascinating aspect was seeing how the Titanic is being consumed by the ocean…” Lahey would of on to describe the ship as having ‘returned to its elemental form’.
Returning to nature, the Titanic had become a home for a diverse number of sea creatures.
Vanished For 70+ Years
The Limiting Factor crew was not the first team to set sights on the sunken Titanic. That honor belonged to Robbert Ballard, a member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Ballard and his team used a remote-controlled sub named Argo to locate and photograph the vessel.
Gradual Degradation of the Legendary Craft
As the Titanic had sat in relative stasis for more than 70 years, it wasn’t exactly a surprise to see how the ship had degraded. As rusticles turn to dust when stirred, the Titanic faces degradation with every single movement in the water. Eventually, the Titanic will disintegrate and drift into the sea, along with those forgotten souls from more than 70 years ago.
Meet Victor Vescovo
Victor Vescovo is the leader of Caladan Oceanic as well as a professional diver. Vescovo was a member of five dives with the Limiting Factor and it is his work that we are seeing in these stunning images. Could you find yourself in a job like Victor’s?
While the Titanic has stolen center stage in the discussion on lost ships, another vessel has also gotten our attention.
Another Lost Vessel Emerges
WWII shattered the world as it spread throughout Europe in 1939. This global war brings us to our next vanquished vessel, the Franken. Before surrendering to the depths of the cold dark ocean, the Franken had been sat in a yard until 1942.
Meet the Franken
After having sat for years, Franken was put back into active duty during the height of World War II. The Franken would be brought to Copenhagen where it was finished by the shipbuilders at Burmeister & Wain. The ship would be commissioned for use in 1943 where it served in the Baltic Sea as a supply ship and tanker.
Destroyed by Russian Airborne Assault
While the Franken served faithfully for a number of years, activity in the Baltic Sea would surge in ’45. As Russia and the Nazis did battle, the Franken would be sunk near Hel, a port, during a Russian air assault. The vessel would sink and 48 sailors would pass away as a result on April 8 mere weeks before the culmination of the war.
A Ticking Timebomb
While the Franken may have vanished from public sight, it certainly hasn’t been forgotten. Members of the Baltic Sea Conservation Foundation have pushed for an exploration of the vessel, leading to a Polish dive in April of 2018. After spending 13 hours underwater with the vessel, the crew would discover that the ship is quickly deteriorating.
Now balanced between two dunes, it is only a matter of time until the wreckage of the Franken splits in half.
Removing the Dangerous Cargo
What makes the Franken a particularly notable ticking time bomb is the 800k gallon stock of oil within its hull. With each passing day, the steel protecting the oil from the ocean is degrading. Since the ship sank in 1945, the steel hull has been losing roughly 0.39 inches per decade.
No Help From the Government
Tragically, the government’s response has been less than enthusiastic when it comes to fixing this potential oceanic tragedy. While the oil needs to be prevented from leaking into the ocean, Polish authorities are under the impression that they don’t have to act. Apparently, the Polish government will only get involved if the spill actually occurs instead of preventing it outright
Dealing With the Fallout
While the oil within the hull of the Franken has yet to leak, it is considered a matter of time until the inevitable. With so much at stake for life in the Gdansk Bay, we only hope that people work together to prevent this catastrophe from plaguing the ocean in the future.