Unseen Footage of ‘Titanic’ Wreckage Reveals a Look at When the Iconic Ship Was First Found

In James Cameron's iconic film Titanic, a treasure hunter asks Rose—an elderly fictionalized survivor of the shipwreck—an important question: “Are you ready to go back to Titanic?” He then proceeds to show her video footage captured by a submersible robot that ranges over the ghostly ship. Famously, Cameron's team dove down 12 times to view the ship at a depth of two and a half miles underwater. Now, 25 years after the film's release, those who wish for their own return to the RMS Titanic can view newly released footage from the first submersible dives to the haunting wreck in 1986.

Released by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the rare 80-minute footage is available on YouTube. A luxury liner by the White Star Line, Titanic made the news for its size and splendor. In the early 19th century, ocean liners were the way to travel. As the characters in the film note, Titanic was considered the peak of luxury and speed, an unsinkable behemoth.

On April 12, 1912, the ship headed to collect its passengers on its maiden voyage. Famously, that trip ended in incredible tragedy when the ship struck an iceberg in the Northern Atlantic. Punctured in its hull, the ship sunk within hours and well before a rescue ship could come to its aid. Only 706 of the 2,240 passengers survived.

Due to the depth of the wreck, it was over 70 years before humans set eyes on it once more. In 1985, a team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) under Dr. Robert Ballard with the Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer (IFREMER) discovered Titanic once more, pinpointing its location and deploying remote photographic technology. In 1986, WHOI returned to the site with a three-person research submersible, “Alvin,” and the new technology of a remotely-operated vehicle “Jason Jr.” Humans, at last, saw Titanic again as the robot wended its way inside the ship.

“For WHOI and for the entire ocean research community, Titanic’s discovery proved the capabilities of new underwater imaging and navigation systems and helped spur significant advantages in the development of deep-sea exploration technology,” notes WHOI in a recent statement announcing the release of the 1986 footage. The video begins with Alvin approaching Titanic across the bow to park on its deck. Split screen syncing shows the Alvin and Jason Jr. feeds as Jason Jr. sets out to explore the interior of the ship. Dr. Ballard even makes an appearance from inside Alvin.

Scroll down to watch the video for yourself to learn more about history, oceanography, and a part of the ocean very few humans have seen.

Welcome back to Titanic! Take a look at the shipwreck as it was first seen by submersibles in 1986.

Footage of the Wreck From First Submersible Dives to RMS Titanic Revealed

The RMS Titanic on April 10, 1912. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, PUblic domain)

The 80-minute-long video has been released by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Footage of the Wreck From First Submersible Dives to RMS Titanic Revealed

The first-class lounge. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The portholes, decks, railings, and other features of the famous ocean liner are visible in the footage.

Even 25 years after James Cameron's famous movie—and over 100 years after the ship itself sank—the Titanic tragedy is still fascinating.

h/t: [Design Taxi]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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