Divers Visited the Titanic’s Wreck for the First Time in Over a Decade. Here’s Why They Were Shocked by the Ship’s Condition

Recently, the deepest natural trench in the world, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, was explored by Victor Vescovo, the CEO of Oceanic Caladan, and his team of deep-sea explorers. They broke the world record for deep-diving with a descent of 35,853 feet into the trench. Over the course of eight days, they dove to the wreckage of the famous sunken liner, sourcing the most up-to-date images.

The wreck of the Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City in April 1912 after hitting an iceberg, has been lying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Canadian province of Newfoundland since then, with more than 1,500 crew members and passengers having lost their lives.

The 3D models of the Titanic RMS are meticulously crafted to be both photorealistic and highly accurate.

In the statement released by Atlantic Productions, Parks Stephenson, a historian specializing in the Titanic, highlighted that the “captain’s bathtub,” a famous feature of the sunken ship (shown in the above picture), has completely vanished as a result of decay. The importance of these initiatives is growing as the ship continues to deteriorate. Back in 2012, the wreckage was designated as a UNESCO cultural heritage site as part of an effort to document and commemorate the Titanic’s final resting location in more recent times.

The expedition team’s first visit to the wreckage site, which has been visited by a human-occupied vehicle, occurred 14 years ago in August. Even the porcelain face of a child’s doll and some bottles of wine from the passengers’ luggage, as well as other debris, surround each part of the wreck. The ship, which fell to the seabed in two parts, can now be found roughly 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland at a depth of approximately 12,600 feet.

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The wreck displays rusticles throughout, undergoing a continuous cycle of decay and regrowth. This phenomenon gives rise to delicate rust structures resembling icicles. Within the wreckage, the bacteria Halomonas titanicae can be found, which actively consume the iron of the ship, causing its deterioration. In 2010, a new type of bacteria named Halomonas titanicae was co-discovered by Henrietta Mann, a researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mann has dedicated years to studying the wreck of the Titanic.

With each successive layer, harm is inflicted. The lower levels are affected, causing a downward cascade if deterioration occurs at the highest point of the wreckage. Additionally, the weight of the wreck is mentioned as an additional contributing factor in its decline. According to Mann, several key factors, including corrosion, oceanic whirlpools and currents, and the influence of bacteria that consume iron, contribute to both its current condition and its future prospects. Mann informs TIME that she has viewed the footage captured by the explorers.

“It will deteriorate quickly, and the more structurally damaged it is, the more likely it is to worsen over time,” she says. “According to the best estimate, the wreck will completely disintegrate in approximately 30 years.” Mann says it is impossible to know exactly how long it will take for the ship to completely fall apart, but clues from the observed damage can offer some insight.

Learn more: View Images of the Titanic’s Sinking When It Was Initially Found.

Patrick Lahey, the president of Triton Submarines, piloted three teams of divers. He mentioned that the shipwreck is in the process of returning to its original form.

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According to his statement, the most captivating part of witnessing was the fact that the Titanic is being devoured by the sea, all while serving as a sanctuary for an impressively wide range of creatures.

Vescovo, the leader of the expedition team, informs TIME that the sunken ship was actually in a superior state than he anticipated. He remarks, “I had perused some forecasts by certain scientists that significant sections might have completely crumbled since the previous photographic inspection in 2010, but, at least at the front of the ship, they have not.” He goes on to say, “There was less of a ‘collapse’ and more of a gradual, constant deterioration of the outer areas. The fact that there are still numerous glass portholes intact astounded me, and truly amazed me at just how resilient this ship is.”

He continues, “When the sea reclaims it in its entirety, it is not a matter of if but when. We should remember that the wreck has been there for 107 years, slowly eroding and being carried away by strong seawater currents. This is a matter of biology and.”

Send an email to Gina Martinez at gina.Martinez@time.Com.

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