Rare Titanic photographs go on display
Published Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Never-before-seen photographs of RMS Titanic in Belfast have gone on display for the first time.
The rare pictures were captured over 100 years ago by John Kempster, one of the directors at ship builders Harland and Wolff. The sepia stills of the doomed liner can be viewed at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Co Down.

The album contains 116 prints including some of Mr Kempster's trip to America on Titanic's sister ship the Olympic during her maiden voyage. Assistant Curator Karen Logan explained: "The album begins with his journey to New York to visit his uncle, we see him on board Olympic's maiden voyage which he took to New York.

"We can see children playing on the deck and really rare on board photography which shows some of the games they were involved in, pillow fights and egg and spoon race."

Some of the pictures also capture the excitement and interest surrounding the liner - with crowds following Titanic as she left the slipway.

In April 1912, 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives after the liner hit an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

William Blair from National Museums Northern Ireland added: "One of the reasons in many ways I think Titanic is such a compelling story is because of the way the ship is almost a perfect mirror reflection of society on land with all of the class distinctions etc, it is almost like Downton Abbey at sea. This album captures that wonderfully."

While the album is on show it will remain closed amid fears it could be damaged by light, but the images can be seen by the public via an audio-visual display.

Violin from Titanic's band master to be auctioned for record breaking price.
By: Alex Ward - Mail Online
Published February 17, 2013

The violin believed to have belonged to the heroic band master who played as the Titanic sunk is set to sold at auction for a record price. If proved authentic, the violin of Wallace Hartley will have incredibly survived the tragedy in which more than 1500 people lost their lives in the Atlantic on April 15, 1912. The final extensive scientific tests are underway to prove its authenticity but experts believe it to be genuine. It is expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds on April 20 when it is auctioned by Titanic experts Henry Aldridge and Son based in Devizes, Wiltshire. It has passed all other tests over the last seven years and the results of the last investigation are due early next month. A plan of the Titanic used in the inquiry into the doomed ship sold for a record £220,000 in 2011 but it is believed the instrument will exceed this price. The anonymous seller of the violin claims that Maria Robinson, Hartley’s bereaved fiancĂ©, retrieved the violin after his death. The instrument had been a gift from her. The fate of Hartley's violin has always been a mystery to Titanic scholars. All eight members of the band that gallantly played as passengers lined up for evacuation to the lifeboats perished in the disaster but the bodies of the band leader and two other musicians were pulled from the water by a search crew from the CS Mackay-Bennett and taken to Nova Scotia, Canada. Violinist John Law Hume from Dumfries in Scotland and bass player John Frederick Preston Clarke from Liverpool were laid to rest in Halifax but Hartley's body was repatriated to England and buried at Colne, Lancashire, the town where he was born and raised. Newspapers at the time reported that Hartley was found fully dressed with his violin strapped to his chest. However, when the effects of Body 224 were itemised by The Office of the Provincial Secretary in Nova Scotia there was no mention of it. Other than his clothes and spare change he had only a ring, a pen, a silver matchbox, a gold cigar holder, a watch and chain, a collar stud, a pair of scissors and two pieces of correspondence. It was not among the possessions handed back to his father Albion Hartley who collected the body from the Arabic at Liverpool docks. The assumption has long been that the instrument was spirited away by someone involved in collecting the corpses.Now the instrument believed to be Hartley's is currently being handled by the leading Titanic memorabilia auctioneer Henry Aldridge and Son who hold every record set for items from the ship and are considered the world's leading authority on its artifacts. They have so far spent many thousands of pounds seeking to establish beyond any doubt that the violin is the genuine article. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the impending auction. But a source close to the sale confirmed: ‘It is the most iconic and important item ever connected to the Titanic to come up for sale. ‘We are talking about high six figures. There will be worldwide interest. All the tests have proved its authenticity so far. There is just one final test left and the results are due in early March. If that confirms the authenticity then it will be sold. ‘The auctioneers have been thoroughly professional and painstaking over this. They have been on the case for seven years.’ Auctioneer Henry Aldridge said previously: ‘When I first saw it five years ago I was amazed. If I did not think that the probability was there I would not have bothered. ‘The research is expensive business but because of the historical importance of this item the money is secondary. We cannot rush the scientists.’ During his research for The Band That Played On, a book that tells the story of all eight of the Titanic's musicians, top British author Steve Turner came across a collection of photographs purporting to show the violin, a leather case, and various sheets of music. He said: ‘I was suspicious at first but when I looked closely I could only conclude that this was the real thing or the result of an extremely elaborate and well informed hoax. ‘I am convinced that it is genuine and impressed by the scope of the scientific and historical tests that have already taken place. ‘I can’t imagine anything more valuable connected to the Titanic.’ Hartley's fiance Miss Robinson moved to the Yorkshire seaside resort of Bridlington after his death but never married. She died alone in 1939. Among the supporting evidence that she retrieved the violin after his death is a 1912 diary where she had apparently drafted a letter to the authorities in Nova Scotia thanking them for acceding to her wish to have the violin sent to her. The draft letter in her diary reads: ‘I would be most grateful if you could convey my heartfelt thanks to all who have made possible the return of my late fiance’s violin. May I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to you personally for your gracious intervention on my behalf.’ Mr Turner said: ‘When I checked the name of the provincial secretary for Nova Scotia it corresponded with what was written in the diary although Robinson had written F. Walthers instead of F. Mathers. ‘The most convincing thing about the violin, which was in a brown leather case with the initials W. H. H stamped on it, was the inscription on the tail-piece. It said: “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria”. ‘This seemed not only to explain why she wanted it back so badly, and why it didn't automatically go to Hartley's parents, but perhaps why Hartley kept it with him in the water.’ Mr Turner also points out that the ink letters that were found on Hartley were near perfect and had not been affected by the sea. He said: ‘Because the violin was a gift from Maria to Wallace on their engagement it makes sense that she was the rightful heir rather than Hartley's parents. ‘I wonder whether Hartley clung on to it so tightly because it was a gift from his wife-to-be. Otherwise he might just have let it go. ‘If this turns out to be what everyone involved hopes and believes it is, I think it will; be the most expensive Titanic artifact ever offered for sale. It was not only once on the Titanic but it played a key role in the story. On top of that, it symbolizes the love of two people.’

"Titanic" director visits ship's birthplace
Agence-France Presse
September 7, 2012

"Titanic" director James Cameron hailed the "unsung heroes" who designed the doomed vessel as he visited Belfast, the city where it was built, on Friday.
Cameron, who is in the city to launch a new exhibition at the Titanic Belfast visitor centre, hailed the designers whose work meant the ship did not roll over as it sank. This meant that its lifeboats could be lowered and more lives saved. "I believe firmly that they are the unsung heroes of Titanic, that kept that ship upright, the stately image that we all think of when we think of Titanic sinking," Cameron said. "It is important for us to continue to look back at history. There are still lessons to be learned, there were heroes on board the ship that we did not even realise how important they were... and they were Belfast men." Cameron and producer Jon Landau opened the first exhibit dedicated to the film at the Titanic Belfast museum which is located just 100 yards from where the passenger liner's hull was launched. Cameron's 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" starred Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio and was the most successful movie ever made until the release of Cameron's "Avatar" in 2009. Canadian film director James Cameron addresses the media as he visits the Titanic Belfast Museum in Belfast. Cameron paid tributes to the ship's builders as he paid a visit to the liner's birthplace in Belfast.

Australian Billionaire Plans to Build Titanic II?
By Martin Parry (AFP)
April 30, 2012
One of Australia's richest men, Clive Palmer, on Monday unveiled plans to build a 21st century version of the doomed Titanic in China, with its first voyage from England to New York set for 2016.
Palmer, a self-made mining billionaire, said he had commissioned state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to construct Titanic II with the same dimensions as its predecessor.
"It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," Palmer said in a statement.
"Titanic II will sail in the northern hemisphere and her maiden voyage from England to North America is scheduled for late 2016."
He added that he had invited the Chinese navy to escort the Titanic II to New York.
The announcement comes just weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, which went down on April 15, 1912 after striking an iceberg on its first voyage, from Southampton to New York.
Palmer said the new ship would be a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original, which sank with the loss of 1,514 passengers and crew.
"These people produced work that is still marvelled at more than 100 years later and we want that spirit to go on for another 100 years," he said.
Titanic was commissioned by White Star Line and was the largest liner in the world at the time.
Palmer said he has established his own shipping company, Blue Star Line, with the new vessel having the same specifications as its predecessor -- 270 metres long (885 feet), 53 metres high and weighing some 40,000 tonnes.
It will have 840 rooms and nine decks with design work in conjunction with an historical research team underway. No figure was given on how much it would cost.
The only changes to the original would be below the water line including welding and not riveting, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency, diesel generation and enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased manoeuvrability.
"Titanic II will be the ultimate in comfort and luxury with on-board gymnasiums and swimming pools, libraries, high class restaurants and luxury cabins," Palmer said.
The ship would also include an exhibition room which will be located in the space of the original's coal boilers which will showcase his home state of Queensland.
Palmer is estimated to be Australia's fifth richest person, worth more than Aus$5 billion (US$5.2 billion), thanks to his vast coal and other mining assets in Queensland and Western Australia.
He has also branched out into tourism and owns the luxury Coolum resort on the Sunshine Coast, while recently saying he wants to move into the media industry, a sector dominated by Fairfax and Rupert Murdoch's News Limited.
His decision to commission a Chinese shipbuilding yard, which will also construct other luxury liners for the tycoon, reinforces his ties to the country, which is a key buyer of his coal and iron ore.
"The Chinese are renowned for building commercial cargo and container ships," he said.
"China currently produces around two to three percent of the world's luxury ships but is looking to challenge the Europeans who have around 75 percent of this market.
"The Chinese ship building industry with our assistance wants to be a major player in this market."
The original Titanic was built in Belfast.

History Channel Special to Air on April 15th.
March 8, 2012

As the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking approaches, a team of scientists, engineers and imaging experts have joined forces to answer one of the most haunting questions surrounding the legendary disaster: Just how did the “unsinkable” ship break apart and plunge into the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912? Two years ago, HISTORY took part alongside the world’s top underwater experts in the most recent expedition to the wreck site. The undertaking yielded unprecedented new discoveries and the first comprehensive map of Titanic’s watery grave, helping specialists solve the century-old puzzle of what went wrong—and determine who or what was responsible. A HISTORY special entitled “Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved,” set to premiere on April 15 at 8 p.m. ET, will document the mission, capture the high-tech mapmaking process, unveil astonishing pieces of never-before-seen wreckage and present the expedition’s unexpected findings. Will the case of the world’s most famous maritime catastrophe finally be closed?

Full Titanic Site Mapped for 1st Time
By CLARKE CANFIELD | Associated Press
March 8, 2012 SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine

Researchers have pieced together what's believed to be the first comprehensive map of the entire 3-by-5-mile (5-by-8-kilometer) Titanic debris field and hope it will provide new clues about what exactly happened the night 100 years ago when the superliner hit an iceberg, plunged to the bottom of the North Atlantic and became a legend. Marks on the muddy ocean bottom suggest, for instance, that the stern rotated like a helicopter blade as the ship sank, rather than plunging straight down, researchers told The Associated Press this week. An expedition team used sonar imaging and more than 100,000 photos taken from underwater robots to create the map, which shows where hundreds of objects and pieces of the presumed-unsinkable vessel landed after striking an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people. Explorers of the Titanic — which sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City — have known for more than 25 years where the bow and stern landed after the vessel struck an iceberg. But previous maps of the floor around the wreckage were incomplete, said Parks Stephenson, a Titanic historian who consulted on the 2010 expedition. Studying the site with old maps was like trying to navigate a dark room with a weak flashlight. "With the sonar map, it's like suddenly the entire room lit up and you can go from room to room with a magnifying glass and document it," he said. "Nothing like this has ever been done for the Titanic site." The mapping took place in the summer of 2010 during an expedition to the Titanic led by RMS Titanic Inc., the legal custodian of the wreck, along with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and the Waitt Institute of La Jolla, California. They were joined by other groups, as well as the cable History channel. Details on the new findings at the bottom of the ocean are not being revealed yet, but the network will air them in a two-hour documentary on April 15, exactly 100 years after the Titanic sank. The expedition team ran two independently self-controlled robots known as autonomous underwater vehicles along the ocean bottom day and night. The torpedo-shaped AUVs surveyed the site with side-scan sonar, moving at a little more than 3 miles per hour (4.8 kph) as they traversed back and forth in a grid along the bottom, said Paul-Henry Nargeolet, the expedition's co-leader with RMS Titanic Inc. Dave Gallo from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was the other co-leader. The AUVs also took high-resolution photos — 130,000 of them in all — of a smaller 2-by-3-mile (3-by-5-kilometer)area where most of the debris was concentrated. The photos were stitched together on a computer to provide a detailed photo mosaic of the debris. The result is a map that looks something like the moon's surface showing debris scattered across the ocean floor well beyond the large bow and stern sections that rest about half a mile apart. The map provides a forensic tool with which scientists can examine the wreck site much the way an airplane wreck would be investigated on land, Nargeolet said. For instance, the evidence that the stern rotated is based on the marks on the ocean floor to its west and the fact that virtually all the debris is found to the east. "When you look at the sonar map, you can see exactly what happened," said Nargeolet, who has been on six Titanic expeditions, the first in 1987. The first mapping of the Titanic wreck site began after it was discovered in 1985, using photos taken with cameras aboard a remotely controlled vehicle that didn't venture far from the bow and stern. The mapping over the years has improved as explorers have built upon previous efforts in piecemeal fashion, said Charlie Pellegrino, a Titanic explorer who was not involved in the 2010 expedition. But this is the first time a map of the entire debris field has looked at every square inch in an orderly approach, he said. "This is quite a significant map," he said. "It's quite a significant advance in the technology and the way it's done." At Lone Wolf Documentary Group in South Portland, producers are putting the final touches on the History documentary. Rushmore DeNooyer, the co-producer and writer of the show, points out the different items on the map, displayed on a screen. They include a huge tangle of the remains of a deckhouse; a large chunk of the side of the ship measuring more than 60 feet long and weighing more than 40 tons; pieces of the ship's bottom; and a hatch cover that blew off of the bow section as it crashed to the bottom. Other items include five of the ship's huge boilers, a revolving door and even a lightning rod from a mast. By examining the debris, investigators can now answer questions like how the ship broke apart, how it went down and whether there was a fatal flaw in the design, he said. The layout of the wreck site and where the pieces landed provide new clues on exactly what happened. Computer simulations will re-enact the sinking in reverse, bringing the wreckage debris back to the surface and reassembled. Some of those questions will be answered on the show, said Dirk Hoogstra, a senior vice president at History. He declined to say ahead of the show what new theories are being put forth on the sinking. "We've got this vision of the entire wreck that no one has ever seen before," he said. "Because we have, we're going to be able to reconstruct exactly how the wreck happened. It's groundbreaking, jaw-dropping stuff."

What sank the Titanic? Scientists point to the moon!
By Jim Forsyth | Reuters
March 6, 2012 SAN ANTONIO, TX

A century after the Titanic disaster, scientists have found an unexpected culprit of the crash: the moon. Anyone who knows history or blockbuster movies knows that the cause of the ocean liner's accident 100 years ago next month was that it hit an iceberg. "But the lunar connection may explain how an unusually large number of icebergs got into the path of the Titanic," said Donald Olson, a Texas State University physicist whose team of forensic astronomers examined the moon's role. Ever since the Titanic sank in the early morning of April 15, 1912, killing 1,517 people, researchers have puzzled over Captain Edward Smith's seeming disregard of warnings that icebergs were in the area where the ship was sailing. Smith was the most experienced captain in the White Star Line and had sailed the North Atlantic sea lanes on numerous occasions. He had been assigned to the maiden voyage of the Titanic because he was a knowledgeable and careful seaman. Greenland icebergs of the type that the Titanic struck generally become stuck in the shallow waters off Labrador and Newfoundland, and cannot resume moving southward until they have melted enough to re-float or a high tide frees them, Olson said. So how was it that such a large number of icebergs had floated so far south that they were in the shipping lanes well south of Newfoundland that night? The team investigated speculation by the late oceanographer Fergus Wood that an unusually close approach by the moon in January 1912 may have produced such high tides that far more icebergs than usual managed to separate from Greenland, and floated, still fully grown, into shipping lanes that had been moved south that spring because of reports of icebergs. Olson said a "once-in-many-lifetimes" event occurred on January 4, 1912, when the moon and sun lined up in such a way that their gravitational pulls enhanced each other. At the same time, the moon's closest approach to earth that January was the closest in 1,400 years, and the point of closest approach occurred within six minutes of the full moon. On top of that, the Earth's closest approach to the sun in a year had happened just the previous day. "This configuration maximized the moon's tide-raising forces on the Earth's oceans," Olson said. "That's remarkable." His research determined that to reach the shipping lanes by mid-April, the iceberg that the Titanic struck must have broken off from Greenland in January 1912. The high tide caused by the bizarre combination of astronomical events would have been enough to dislodge icebergs and give them enough buoyancy to reach the shipping lanes by April, he said. Olson's team has sought to use tide patterns to determine exactly when Julius Caesar invaded Britain and prove the legend that Mary Shelley was inspired by a bright full moon shining through her window to write the gothic classic "Frankenstein." The team's Titanic research may have vindicated Captain Smith - albeit a century too late - by showing that he had a good excuse to react so casually to a report of ice in the ship's path. He had no reason at the time to believe that the bergs he was facing were as numerous or as large as they turned out to be, Olson said. "In astronomical terms, the odds of all these variables lining up in just the way they did was, well, astronomical," he said. The research will appear in the April issue of "Sky & Telescope" magazine.

Titanic 3D: James Cameron Unveils First 3D Scenes From Titanic
October 29, 2011

Titanic is coming back to the big screen and its coming back in 3D. James Cameron’s massive Blockbuster will get a complete 3D makeover before it hits theaters on April 6, 2012. Cameron said: “This is a film that many people have seen, obviously, sometimes multiple times, but there is a whole generation of people who haven’t seen it in theaters.” Cameron and producer Jon Landau showed 18 minutes of 3D film at the huge screening room at Paramount Studios. Cameron said: “I love the 3D, I think it’s spectacular. If I had had 3D cameras at the time, if there had been 3D theatres at the time, I would certainly have shot the film in 3D.” According to Sky News, Titanic is the second highest grossing film of all-time (Avatar, another Cameron film, is number one). The movie, which stars Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet, won 11 Oscars in 1997, including Best Picture and a Best Director for Cameron. Cameron hasn’t announced any plans yet, but the director did say that there are several classic films that could benefit from a 3D makeover. Could the Terminator get the 3D treatment? “I do believe that there is an array of 10 or 20 movies – think of the best movies of all times – that should be converted in 3D, but it has to be done right. I firmly believe that 3D is an enhancement even for just normal, narrative scenes, not necessarily the action scenes. That feeling that you’re right there, actually with characters, enhances the emotional interaction between the audience and the film.”

Titanic Launched 100 years ago.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Descendants of the men who built the Titanic marked the 100th anniversary Tuesday of its launch in Belfast in a moving ceremony aimed at restoring the city's maritime pride after years of shame. A single flare was fired above the Harland and Wolff shipyard at 1113 GMT -- exactly a century on from the moment the ill-starred ocean liner, then the largest boat ever built, slid into the waters of Belfast Harbour. At the time the launch was a moment of huge pride, but ever since the "unsinkable" liner hit an iceberg on its maiden transatlantic voyage nearly a year later the tragedy has hung over Belfast. The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Niall O Donnghaile, said the centenary should be a moment of celebration for the city, which itself has overcome 30 years of Northern Ireland's sectarian strife known as "The Troubles". "For too long, Belfast's part in the Titanic story, and the role of the people of Belfast in bringing Titanic to life, has been neglected," O Donnghaile said at the ceremony. Guests included local schoolchildren and representatives from four other cities and towns linked to the Titanic story -- Cherbourg in France, Cobh in the Republic of Ireland, Liverpool and Southampton. The Titanic sailed from Southampton and stopped at Cherbourg and Cobh, then known as Queenstown. It was registered in Liverpool, the headquarters of the White Star line, and carried that city's name on its giant stern. Also present on Tuesday were descendants of many of the men who helped build the ship, some of whom sailed on the first voyage and died in the disaster. Susie Millar, whose great grandfather Tommy Millar was a deck engineer on board the Titanic and died when the liner sank, said she had mixed feelings. "Today should be a happy occasion and I was all geared up to be celebratory but when it came to the moment I was actually quite sad," she said. "You think of what was going through his (her great grandfather's) head 100 years ago. "He helped to build the ship and would have been part of that team and would've watched the launch and within the next year would've sailed off on her hoping to make a better life for his family and it all went so tragically wrong." Next year Millar will cross the Atlantic on a specially organised voyage to commemorate the tragedy. "For me the big clincher there is I get to finish the journey for my great grandfather," she said. "A hundred years later I get to step off at New York harbour and do what he couldn't do." The memorial began with a religious ceremony and a moment of silence for the 1,517 passengers and crew who drowned in the disaster. After the flare was fired, the crowds clapped and cheered for exactly 62 seconds, the length of time it took for the Titanic to roll down the slipway on May 31, 1911. All boats in the area around the shipyard then sounded their horns in a sign of respect. An exhibition featuring more than 500 artefacts related to the Titanic, some of them previously unseen, also opened Tuesday at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Northern Ireland. "No ship has gripped the world's imagination like RMS Titanic. Her remarkable story begins at her birthplace in Belfast," said Niall Gibbons, head of Tourism Ireland, which is involved in the memorial events. Titanic sank in just over two and a half hours after hitting the iceberg on April 14, 1912. The last remaining survivor of the sinking, Millvina Dean, died exactly two years ago in England at the age of 97. She was only nine weeks old when the ship went down.

What's Eating Titanic?

Nearly a century after striking an iceberg and plunging into the North Atlantic two days into her maiden voyage, Titanic has become a meal for hungry microscopic bacteria, including a newly identified strain that bears her name: Halomonas titanicae. Almost a century ago, the legendary Titanic’s most formidable menace was a colossal chunk of ice weighing an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 tons. Lurking in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic on the night of April 14, 1912, the berg cut a gash between 220 and 245 feet long into the "unsinkable" steamship’s hull, sinking Titanic and killing more than 1,500 of her passengers. Now, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of her demise, Titanic faces a much smaller but equally destructive foe: a newly identified rust-eating bacterium called Halomonas titanicae that threatens to devour its historic remains within 15 to 20 years. A team of Canadian and Spanish researchers isolated this never-before-seen species from "rusticles"—icicle-like rust formations—collected from the famous ship’s wreck, which lies 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland and was discovered in 1985. Their findings appear in the December 2010 issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. Along with other corrosive microorganisms, Halomonas titanicae gobbles up the iron in the ship’s metal exterior, forming the ubiquitous rusticles, which over time dissolve into fine powder. It is no surprise, then, that Titanic has rapidly deteriorated in the 25 years since her discovery, alarming both scientists and enthusiasts who hope to uncover her secrets through further exploration of the wreck. These tiny microbes’ voracious appetites already have experts scrambling to preserve a site that is quite literally vanishing into thin air—or, more accurately, water. "In 1995, I was predicting that Titanic had another 30 years," Henrietta Mann, a co-author of the study and adjunct professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, said in a statement. "But I think it's deteriorating much faster than that now." Eventually, she predicts, "there will be nothing left but a rust stain." The researchers have yet to determine whether Halomonas titanicae colonized Titanic’s wreckage in the years after she sank or hitched a ride during her short-lived maiden voyage, Mann said. The bacterium may also play a role in the disintegration of additional submerged metal structures with much less cachet, including other shipwrecks and oil pipelines. While Halomonas titanicae threatens to make fast work of its namesake, it has the potential to help eliminate unwanted waste from the ocean floor in a natural and eco-friendly way. "We believe H. titanicae plays a part in the recycling of iron structures at certain depths," Mann explained. "This could be useful in the disposal of old naval and merchant ships and oil rigs that have been cleaned of toxins and oil-based products and then sunk in the deep ocean."

New species of rust-eating bacteria destroying Titanic. Microbe may be useful in accelerating disposal of other old ships and oil rigs.
December 6, 2010

Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada have been examining the bacteria eating away at the remains of the famous ship as it sits on the ocean floor. Using DNA technology, Dalhousie scientists Henrietta Mann and Bhavleen Kaur and researchers from the University of Sevilla in Spain were able to identify a new bacterial species collected from rusticles (a formation of rust similar to an icicle or stalactite) from the Titanic wreck. The iron-oxide-munching bacterium has fittingly been named Halomonas titanicae. The bacteria have critical implications for the preservation of the ship's wreckage. "In 1995, I was predicting that Titanic had another 30 years," Mann said. "But I think it's deteriorating much faster than that now. Perhaps if we get another 15 to 20 years out of it, we're doing good ... eventually there will be nothing left but a rust stain." The wreck is covered with rusticles; the knob-like mounds have formed from at least 27 strains of bacteria, including Halomonas titanicae. Rusticles are porous and allow water to pass through; they are rather delicate and will eventually disintegrate into fine powder. "It's a natural process, recycling the iron and returning it to nature," Mann said. For decades following the ship's sinking in 1912, the Titanic's final resting spot remained a mystery. Discovered by a joint American-French expedition in 1985, the wreck is located a little more than 2 miles (3.8 kilometers) below the ocean surface and some 329 miles (530 km) southeast of Newfoundland, Canada. In the 25 years since the discovery of the wreck, the Titanic has rapidly deteriorated. While the disintegration of the Titanic makes preservation of the ship impossible, the bacteria doing the damage may be useful in accelerating the disposal of other old ships and oil rigs. Further, it could also help scientists develop paints or protective coatings to guard against the bacteria for working vessels. While the loss of the wreck over time concerns Dan Conlin, curator of maritime history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, he notes scientists know much more about the Titanic than most shipwrecks. "What is fascinating to me is that we tend to have this idea that these wrecks are time capsules frozen in time, when in fact there all kinds of complex ecosystems feeding off them, even at the bottom of that great dark ocean," Conlin said.

Mapping of 'Titanic' wreck begins
Aug 26, 2010 

A high-tech expedition that aims to create a detailed map of the wreckage of the Titanic has begun exploring the ocean floor where the ship sank nearly one hundred years ago, the crew said Thursday. Sonar onboard an automated submersible vehicle combined with high-resolution video will be used to create three dimensional images of the fabled oceanliner. The expedition, organized by the American group RMS Titanic, which holds exploration rights for the wreck, arrived on Wednesday aboard the scientific vessel Jean Charcot and started by laying flowers on the water's surface to commemorate the 1,500 victims of the shipwreck. Transponders were then deployed at the bottom of the Atlantic to determine, with the help of sonar pings from an automated underwater vehicle (AUV), the exact position of the Titanic. Finally, the AUV "Mary Ann" was deployed at 0647 GMT. She reached the bottom after diving for an hour and 40 minutes. "Surveying of the Titanic wreck site has begun," said the expedition on its website. Another robotic submersible equipped with a video camera will be deployed next. Christopher Davino, president of RMS Titanic, said in a statement that the goal is to "create the most detailed portrait of Titanic's wreck site to date." The team of experts, he said, "will be using some of the most advanced technology available to create a portrait of the ship unlike any that has been created before -- virtually raising Titanic and sealing her current state forever in the minds and hearts of humanity." The mission, which set sail from St John's, Newfoundland, will provide real-time video and photo updates on Facebook and Twitter during a more than 20-day expedition. Other images and information will be found on the mission's website, The Titanic, a luxury passenger ship once thought to be unsinkable, hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912 and sank in the early morning of April 15, 1912, killing 1,500 people. After decades of searching, the wreckage of the Titanic was discovered in 1985 some four kilometers (2.5 miles) beneath the surface of the sea.