Thursday, December 08, 2005


New discoveries from Titanic shipwreck suggest Robert Ballard got it wrong


December 06, 2005

FALMOUTH, Massachusetts -- Undersea explorers said Monday that the discovery of more wreckage from the Titanic suggests that the luxury liner broke into three sections -- not two, as commonly thought -- and thus sank faster than previously believed.

"The breakup and sinking of the Titanic has never been accurately depicted," Parks Stephenson, a Titanic historian, said at a conference at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

The ocean liner that was billed as "unsinkable" by its owner struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage and went down in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912. About 1,500 people were killed.

Undersea explorer Robert Ballard located the bulk of the wreck in 1985, at a depth of about 4,000 metres and about 610 kilometres southeast of Newfoundland. He declared that the ship had broken into two major sections, and that is the way the sinking was portrayed in the 1997 movie about the catastrophe.

However, the latest expedition, sponsored by the History Channel, found two hull pieces, each roughly 12 metres by 27 metres and lying about 500 metres from the rest of the wreck. The explorers said the location of the wreckage indicates that the ship's bottom came off the ship intact -- constituting a third major piece -- and later broke in two.

Ballard played down the importance of the find.

"They found a fragment. Big deal," Ballard said. "Am I surprised? No. When you go down there, there's stuff all over the place. It hit an iceberg and it sank. Get over it."


December 07, 2005
New Discoveries Regarding the Sinking of Titanic

I am finally glad that the news about the latest discovery about the sinking of Titanic has been released to the public. I originally started this note as a follow-up comment to Pedro Caleja, author of the Sea Bottom web log site about my thoughts regarding the AP news release. However, on further reflection I thought that it would be better to share this information with my viewers.

The story that was published yesterday about the hull plates on Titanic being discovered was not new to me. Since I have been diving Titanic I knew that there were several scientists and divers that were exploring these hull plates that included David Concannon, Robert Williams and Alfred McLaren back in early 2000. I was not going to divulge to the general public any of their research and was very supportive of their efforts. When the Harris Expedition made some comments this summer, I published the following comment to this weblog on August 23rd:

The story of the Titanic is a very emotional and spiritual tale for many people. From a research standpoint, we know a lot of information about the ship and the people that plied her decks. What we are starting to understand by visiting her via submersibles is how she sank. Bob Williams postulated that the cause of the sinking were due to growler icebergs that breached the keel of Titanic and was the major cause for her demise. A recent visit to Titanic by Michael Harris supports Mr. Williams hypothesis and claims that he has found an undiscovered debris field that may indeed be the keel section of Titanic. With further study, we may be able to determine, without any doubt, the reasons why Titanic sank so fast and consequently killed so many people.

and subsequently I published this web log article on September 8th that proved to be highly controversial (I believe that this is a very poignant web log so please check it out!): .

Dr. Bob Ballard has had a very rough time as of late. Dr. Ballard is a geologist and not a shipbuilding structural engineer. I believe that the headline about him "getting it all wrong" is very much overstated. Dr. Ballard had made many initial and significant findings about Titanic that were very instrumental in getting to the point of this latest discovery. Without continued scientific visits to the ship, we would not of been able to know these new and landmark historical facts. Parks Stephenson (mentioned prominently in the AP news release) is a very good guy to have on this Woods Hole panel. He is a leader in the marine forensic science arena and I have had several email discussions with him about Titanic. He was a member of James Cameron's Expert Panel that included Ken Marschall and Don Lynch. One of the expedition leaders of this History Channel Expedition that provided the bulk of the science information about this find was David Concannon, a fellow Explorers Club member and Philadelphia lawyer, who made the earliest discovery of these plates back in 2000.

Source: Shipwrecks December 7, 2005

David A. Bright
Nautical Research Group, Inc.
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