Explorers on the first manned mission to visit the wreck site of the Titanic in 14 years have discovered that the ship is deteriorating fairly rapidly.
Lying nearly 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) down in water of about 1°C (33.8°F), the wreck is vulnerable to sweeping eddies, ever-changing sea currents, salt corrosion, and metal-eating bacteria. "That whole deck hole on that side is collapsing taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing".
While visiting the site, the expedition team laid a wreath to honour the memory of the more than 1,500 passengers and crew who perished in the tragic sinking disaster of 1912, the maiden voyage of what was at the time the largest vessel afloat.
Explorers who surveyed the wreckage found that while some parts of the wreck are in surprisingly good conditions, other features have been completely lost to the sea.
The team deployed an advanced, two-person full ocean depth submergence vehicle: thecutting-edge Triton 36,000/2 named the DSV Limiting Factor.
"The captain's bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts - and that's now gone", he said.
Lori Johnson, an expedition scientist, said: "The future of the wreck is going to continue to deteriorate over time, it's a natural process".
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"Titanic is returning to nature", he added.
Bad weather in the Atlantic and strong underwater currents made the dives hard. The privately held venture has been testing its innovative carbon-composite craft for months in Puget Sound and in the Bahamas - and it signed up squads of customers willing to pay more than $100,000 each to be part of the crew and participate in the dives.
Victor Vescovo, CEO of undersea technology specialist Caladan Oceanic and submersible pilot, said that, even with all the deterioration, he was still stunned by the scale of the wreck.
He said: "It was extraordinary to see it all, and the most unbelievable moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible reflected off a portal and came right back - it was like the ship was winking at me". "It's a natural process", said a scientist on the expedition, per the Guardian. It was like the ship was winking at me. The bow was remarkably well preserved but since then its disintegration has accelerated with subsequent expeditions revealing the loss of the crow's nest, mast and captain's cabin.
The first-ever footage of the wreckage was captured in 4K during the expedition by the film company, Atlantic Productions which will be used for in an upcoming documentary.
Using the submersible camera systems, the team performed dedicated photogrammetry passes on the wreck, allowing highly accurate and photoreal 3D models of RMS Titanic to be produced.
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