Never-before seen footage of first ever human dive to wreck of Titanic in 1986 is released: Haunting video shows the ‘unsinkable’ ship through the eyes of the crew that found it 12,400 feet below the North Atlantic
- Unseen footage of the historic 1986 dive to the Titanic wreck has been released
- The 80-minute, uncut video shows the first time humans saw it up close 111 years
- The release coincides with the 25th-anniversary edition of the eponymous film
A three-person crew feasted their eyes on the wreck of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic 38 years ago, capturing the first time humans saw the massive ship up close since it sank in 1912 – and this uncut video has now been released.
The haunting footage, taken in July 1986, shows the craft approaching the Titanic, exploring the bow and settling down on the deck once filled with wide-eyed passengers who had embarked on a journey to America 111 years ago.
The video of the ill-fated ship broken in two pieces was shot 12,400 feet below the North Atlantic off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland.
Robert Ballard, the mission leader aboard a manned submersible craft, marveled at the sheer size of the Titanic when it appeared like a massive wall coming out of the gloom.
‘The first thing I saw coming out of the gloom at 30 feet was this wall, this giant wall of riveted steel that rose over 100 and some feet above us,’ Ballard said in a statement.
‘I never looked down at the Titanic. I looked up at the Titanic. Nothing was small,’ he said.
Footage taken by the first human voyage to the Titanic wreck has been released. The more than 80-minute video was captured in 1986 – a year after the ship was discovered
The more than 80 minutes of footage on WHOI’s YouTube channel chronicles some of the dive’s remarkable achievements.
There were no human flesh or bones left, but Ballard saw shoes, including the footwear of what appeared to be a mother and a baby, that looked like tombstones marking the spot where some of the people who perished came to rest on the ocean floor.
‘It was like people looking back at us. It was pretty haunting, actually,’ he said.
‘After the Titanic sank, those that went into the water that didn´t have lifejackets died of hypothermia and their bodies came raining down.’
‘More than a century after the loss of Titanic, the human stories embodied in the great ship continue to resonate,’ ocean explorer and filmmaker Cameron said in a statement.
‘Like many, I was transfixed when Alvin and Jason Jr. ventured down to and inside the wreck.
‘By releasing this footage, WHOI [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution] is helping tell an important part of a story that spans generations and circles the globe.’
The footage begins with the crew traveling to the ship that was spotted down below
The haunting footage, while dark, took the crew on a journey through the massive ship that sank in 1912. The crew traveled along the deck (pictured) where thousands of people stood on the maiden voyage
The three-man crew ventured 12,400 feet below the Northern Atlantic in a human-occupied vehicle called Alvin (pictured)
The mission was led by Robert Ballard (pictured)
The Titanic, which was called the ‘unsinkable ship,’ went down four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York.
The giant ship collided with an iceberg, split in two and sank to the bottom – 1,517 of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard died.
WHOI, along with the French oceanographic exploration organization IFREMER, discovered the ship’s final resting place on September 1, 1985, using a towed underwater camera.
Nine months later, the WHOI team returned to the site in Alvin and the remotely-operated underwater exploration vehicle Jason Jr., which took iconic images of the ship’s interior.
There had been prior efforts to find the wreck.
The grainy footage first shows the deck of the Titanic
The footage shows the wear of the ship, which has sat at the bottom of the ocean for 111 years
Much of the mechanical parts on the Titanic have eroded, but they have still withstood the sands of time
But the 1985 discovery and the 1986 trip were made possible by sophisticated underwater vehicles that could withstand the unforgiving conditions, said WHOI engineer Andy Bowen, who helped develop them.
‘Titanic lies in a part of the ocean that you would describe as an abyssal plain. It’s over 13,000 feet deep in the ocean,’ Bowen said.
The water is near freezing temperatures and probably the biggest challenge is the remoteness of the location, and in particular the harsh environment with regard to the pressure our equipment is exposed to.’
Ballard said he went through the gamut of emotions during the 1985 mission.
The story behind the discovery of the Titanic wreck in 1985 involved the US Navy.
The journey to the bottom of the sea began three years prior when Ballard was a naval intelligence officer and oceanographer trying to develop a remote-control underwater vehicle to hunt down the wreck of the Titanic.
But Ballard was running out of money and needed funding, so they appealed to the Navy’s Deputy Chief of Operations Ronald Thunman, according to CBS News.
Solid bronze capstans, the metal structures used to move heavy weight around by means of ropes, cables or chains are still fixed to the Titanic’s deck
Around 1,500 people died during the ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City
Thunman agreed to fund the Titanic expedition on one condition – that Ballard uses the money and the time to locate two nuclear submarines that went missing in the Atlantic in the 1960s.
While Ballard searched for the Thatcher and the Scorpion submarines, the Titanic started to become a bit of an afterthought.
READ MORE: Clearest EVER video of the Titanic
New ‘first-of-its-kind footage’ of the Titanic shows the ship’s 200-pound anchor chain, giant portside anchor and a single-ended boiler that fell to the seafloor when the vessel broke in two and sank 12,500 feet below the North Atlantic surface more than 110 years ago.
‘I wasn’t a Titanic groupie,’ he said. ‘I was heavily involved in my military program. So I wasn’t expecting to be affected by the discovery.’
But with 12 days left of the mission, Ballard and his crew stumbled upon the ship’s remains.
The Titanic sank at about 2:20 am and the 1985 discovery using the underwater camera occurred at about 2 a.m.
Ballard recalled one of the crew glancing at the clock and saying: ‘She sinks in 20 minutes.’
‘We actually stopped the operation and raised the vehicle to gather my thoughts and I said, ‘I’m going to go outside and just get myself back together’ and everyone else followed,’ he said.
‘We had a small memorial service for all those that had died. But we were there, we were at this spot.’
It was hallowed ground, like at the Gettysburg battlefield, Ballard said.
The story of the Titanic fascinates people to this day for many reasons, Ballard said.
It was, at the time, the world’s largest ocean liner and was supposed to be virtually unsinkable.
Its passengers included some of the world’s most wealthy and famous. And in the aftermath, the world heard remarkable stories of heroism and bravery by the crew and passengers.
He said: ‘I think everyone wonders in their own mind `If I were there, what would I have done?´’
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