Titanic: Full-sized scans show shipwreck like never before


More than a century after it sank, the first ever full-sized scans of the Titanic show the historic shipwreck in astonishing detail. 

Experts have taken thousands of digital images to create an incredible 3D reconstruction of the wreck, which now lies 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada

The images, published by the BBC, reveal the wreckage in greater detail than ever before, including stalactites of rust on the ship’s bow, the serial number on a propeller, and a hole over where the grand staircase once stood. 

They present Titanic almost as if it’s been retrieved from the water, although this will likely never happen as the wreck is so fragile that it would disintegrate under any movement. 

Experts hope studies of the scans could reveal more about the mysteries surrounding what happened on the fateful night in April 1912, such as the exact mechanics of how it struck the seafloor. 

The images, published by the BBC, reveal details in greater detail than before. Pictured is the ship's bow, much of which is buried under mud due to the force of impact when it hit the ocean floor in the early hours of April 15, 1912

The images, published by the BBC, reveal details in greater detail than before. Pictured is the ship’s bow, much of which is buried under mud due to the force of impact when it hit the ocean floor in the early hours of April 15, 1912

Images show the stern (the back of the ship) as a twisted mess of metal, after it hit the ocean floor still rotating in a counter-clockwise direction

Images show the stern (the back of the ship) as a twisted mess of metal, after it hit the ocean floor still rotating in a counter-clockwise direction

The luxury ocean liner – owned and operated by British company White Star Line – tragically sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912 after a collision with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, killing an estimated 1,517 of the 2,224 people on board. 

The remains now lie on the seafloor about 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, although the delicate wreck is deteriorating so rapidly underwater that it could disappear completely within the next 40 years.

‘There are still questions, basic questions, that need to be answered about the ship,’ Titanic analyst Parks Stephenson told the BBC.

‘[The model is] one of the first major steps to driving the Titanic story towards evidence-based research – and not speculation.’

Mr Stephenson said he was ‘blown away’ when he first saw the scans, which were taken by deep-sea mapping company Magellan Ltd during an expedition last summer and which will be the subject of a documentary by Atlantic Productions. 

‘It allows you to see the wreck as you can never see it from a submersible, and you can see the wreck in its entirety, you can see it in context and perspective,’ Mr Stephenson said.

‘And what it’s showing you now is the true state of the wreck.’

Titanic broke in half just before it made its final plunge in the early hours of April 15, 1912, and now two parts of the ship – the bow and the stern – lie 2,600 feet apart.

Both halves are surrounded by a field of debris consisting of bits of metal, pieces of furniture, unopened champagne bottles and even passengers’ shoes. 

Magellan Ltd sent submersibles to survey all parts of the wreck, which lies around 13,000 feet under the water’s surface. 

The submersibles spent more than 200 hours taking 700,000 images of every angle of the ship to create the 3D reconstruction. 

Images show stalactites of rust on the ship's bow, the serial number on a propeller, and a hole over where the grand staircase once stood

Images show stalactites of rust on the ship’s bow, the serial number on a propeller, and a hole over where the grand staircase once stood

Titanic's grand staircase was possibly the most famous part of the first-class section of the RMS Titanic. Pictured is the hole over where the staircase was located

Titanic’s grand staircase was possibly the most famous part of the first-class section of the RMS Titanic. Pictured is the hole over where the staircase was located 

The grandest ship: RMS Titanic departing on its maiden voyage from Southampton on April 10, 1912. The remains now lie on the seafloor about 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada

The grandest ship: RMS Titanic departing on its maiden voyage from Southampton on April 10, 1912. The remains now lie on the seafloor about 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada

The First Class Lounge on board RMS Titanic, 4th January 1912

Photograph of the Reading and Writing Room on board Titanic

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time

Titanic: Basic facts  

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time.

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912.

On April 14, Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel’s starboard hull. 

The ship sank two hours and 40 minutes later, at 2:20am on April 15. An estimated 1,517 people died.

Deep-sea mapping of the ship makes it appear as if it has drained of all the water, making it easier to see what’s left in clearer detail compared with cameras and lights. 

Images show the stern – the back of the ship – as a twisted mess of metal after it hit the ocean floor still rotating in a counter-clockwise direction. 

The V-shaped bow is more recognisable, complete with railings, although much of it is buried under mud due to the force of impact. 

Mr Stephenson said we still ‘really don’t understand’ everything about Titanic’s collision with the iceberg, so the new images could help reveal more. 

‘We don’t even know if she hit it along the starboard side, as is shown in all the movies – she might have grounded on the iceberg,’ he said.

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time.

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912.

The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing – one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board.

On April 14, the Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel’s starboard hull, believed to have occurred as a result of the rivets in the hull snapping.

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912. Pictured: Cafe Parisien on board Titanic

Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912. Pictured: Cafe Parisien on board Titanic

On April 14, Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel's starboard hull. Pictured: The Aft First Class staircase

On April 14, Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel’s starboard hull. Pictured: The Aft First Class staircase

Experts hope studies of the scans could reveal more about the mysteries surrounding what happened on the night it sunk, such as the exact mechanics of how it struck the seafloor

Experts hope studies of the scans could reveal more about the mysteries surrounding what happened on the night it sunk, such as the exact mechanics of how it struck the seafloor

The wreck of Titanic now lies 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada

The wreck of Titanic now lies 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada 

The wreck wasn’t located until September 1, 1985, a discovery that made global headlines. 

While some shipwrecks have been brought to land, it’s likely this will never happen with Titanic.

Experts think it is too delicate to be moved due to deterioration from corrosion, biological activity and deep ocean currents. There would be moral implications, too. 

British Titanic survivor Eva Hart, who lost her father to the disaster, said shortly before her death in 1996: ‘I hope severely that they will never attempt to raise part of it. 

‘I do hope they will remember this is a grave – a grave of 1,500 people who should never have died, and I don’t think you should go down there and rob graves and I’m very much opposed to it.’ 

DISASTER IN THE ATLANTIC: HOW MORE THAN 1,500 LOST THEIR LIVES WHEN THE TITANIC SUNK

The RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

More than 1,500 people died when the ship, which was carrying 2,224 passengers and crew, sank under the command of Captain Edward Smith.

Some of the wealthiest people in the world were on board, including property tycoon John Jacob Astor IV, great grandson of John Jacob Astor, founder of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time

Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time

Millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim, heir to his family’s mining business, also perished, along with Isidor Straus, the German-born co-owner of Macy’s department store.

The ship was the largest afloat at the time and was designed in such a way that it was meant to be ‘unsinkable’.

It had an on-board gym, libraries, swimming pool and several restaurants and luxury first class cabins.

There were not enough lifeboats on board for all the passengers due to out-of-date maritime safety regulations.

After leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912, Titanic called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in Ireland before heading to New York.

On April 14, 1912, four days into the crossing, she hit an iceberg at 11:40pm local time.

James Moody was on night watch when the collision happened and took the call from the watchman, asking him: ‘What do you see?’ The man responded: ‘Iceberg, dead ahead.’

By 2.20am, with hundreds of people still on board, the ship plunged beneath the waves, taking many, including Moody, with it.

Despite repeated distress calls being sent out and flares launched from the decks, the first rescue ship, the RMS Carpathia, arrived nearly two hours later, pulling more than 700 people from the water.

It was not until 1985 that the wreck of the ship was discovered in two pieces on the ocean floor. 



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