National Geographic: Secrets of the Titanic

Year:
1986
281 Views


It began here in ireiand at the

Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

Three thousand men would labor here

for more than 2 years.

They were building a monster

the largest ship the world

had ever seen.

In the spring of 1909

a mountain of steel began to

rise against the sky.

The ship would weigh 66,000 tons

her hull would span 4 city blocks,

each of her colossal steam engines

was the size of a 3-story house.

The huge scale of these things was

a source of delight.

It was a scene out of

Gulliver's Travels when

the ship's anchor

through the streets of Belfast.

Some few observers found

this giant threatening

and wrote of her nightmare scale.

But their forebodings fell short of

the event,

for the fate of this ship still

fascinates the world

and her name is a synonym for tragedy.

In 1910 the huge ship taking shape

in Belfast was a supreme wonder

in world accustomed to miracles.

Every day it seemed something bigger

or better was invented.

Never had so many people been so

prosperous,

never had they taken such delight

in showing off

so this was called, "The Gildde Age."

This was a time when horses

still got most people around.

But things were rapidly changing

thanks to the machines of a new age

everything from rubber bands

to radios

from lightbuibs

to automobiles.

Progress and prosperity

money and machines,

almost anything seemed possible

and often it was.

May 31st, 1911,

the Roual Mail Ship Titanic,

slipped gracefully into Belfast harbor.

It was the largest moving object

ever made by man.

The Titanic was designed for

the rich passenger trade

on the North Atlantic.

It was not only the biggest ocean liner

it was by far the most luxurious.

Aboard Titanic it was hard to

remember that this was indeed a ship.

Advertising the delights it offered

the White Star Line called Titanic,

"a floating palace."

So confident were Titanic's builders

that her trial vouage

lasted just 8 hours.

Almost as an afterthought

she was said to be, "unsinkable."

On April 10th, 1912,

Titanic's maiden vouage began.

With their maids

valets and chauffeurs

their mountains of baggage the rich

traveled in a style almost unknown today.

In an age that worshipped wealth

the 325 first class passengers

were an awesome assembly.

Titanic was like a time capsule laden

with the splendors of the gilded Age.

In 1912 these films were shown in

theaters to a public eager

for any glimpse of Titanic

in fact, this is actually Titanic's

smaller sister ship the Olympic.

But the excitement and spectacle

were true to the event

and many people couldn't

tell the difference.

Titanic sailed from

Southampton at noon,

she was expected to reach New York

just 7days,

with 2,228 people aboard her.

There are a few authentic pictures

taken aboard Titanic

on her first and last voyage.

A vacationing priest

Father Francis Brown,

caught these poignant snapshots

of his fellow passengers.

Most of them on a voyage to eternity.

The next day Titanic made her last stop

pausing off the coast at

Queenstown, Ireland.

Here tenders brought out the

last passengers,

mostly Irish immigrants headed for

new homes in America,

and here the lucky Father Brown

disembarked,

taking these pictures on his way.

Father Brown caught Captain Smith

peering down from Titanic's bridge

poised on the brink of destiny.

Then Titanic sailed into the

twilight zone of legend

she would not be photographed again

for 73 years,

vanished in all but human memory.

The event of Titanic's last hours

have not faded with the passage of time.

The tragedy

irony and sheer terror of this night

still seize the imagination.

A British film, made in 1929

was one of the first of

many Titanic movies:

Full ahead.

Full ahead, sir.

Despite radioed warnings, Titanic

struck an iceberg.

She carried only enough lifeboats

for about 1.200 people

and not even that many were saved.

In 1986 a new chapter in the

Titanic's story began.

The men and machines involved did

not even exist when Titanic went down.

From the Woods Hole

Oceanographic institution

came the research submarine Alvin

and Dr. Robert Ballard

a geologist and undersea explorer.

For decades Ballard

had dreamed of being the man

to explore the Titanic wreck.

Now, if all goes well

he may succeed within a few days.

On July 9th, Ballard's expedition

backed by the U.S. Navy

and drawing on proven

underwater technology

puts to sea from Woods Hole.

One seven five.

One seven five.

The research vessel, Atlantis II

heads for Titanic's resting place

about 1,000 miles due east.

A rare alchemy of talent

desire and circumstance,

has led Ballard to this adventure.

Many led Ballard to this adventure.

Many have called it foolish and

at any rate, impossible,

it's been a hard sell.

No one person, no one organization

on one shared my dream.

There was pieces of it

the technology part,

the ship part, the submarine part.

It's very much like Cinderella

going to the ball.

So I had to go around and get the

shoes from somebody

and the dress from somebody

and the coach and the coachman

and then I knew everything

by midnight,

I'd turn back into a big pumpkin

so I had a sense of urgency

to get it done before

I ran out of time.

The year before

a joint French American expedition

with Ballard as co-leader

sought to locate Titanic.

A 150 square mile area was searched

by sonar devices and remote TV cameras

towed along the bottom

over 2 miles down.

But Titanic and not lie where

she was thought to be.

TV pictures revealed only a

monotonous plain of sediment

sometimes enlivened by a

sluggish fish or empty beer bottle.

Days of futile search dragged on.

It is 1 a.m., September 1st, 1985.

The search has been going on

for 56 days.

#1:
Wreckage. Bingo. Yeah!

#2:
Somebody ought to go get Bob.

#3:
Bob's gone love this.

#4:
This is it! Look at that thing.

All:
Oh, alright! Yahoo!

#1:
What is it?

#2:
I don't know but it's manmade.

#3:
There's more stuff coming.

#4:
lt's the boiler!

#1:
Yes, yes, that's fantastic!

#1:
I'll be goddam.

The sucker exists! Gooddam!

#2:
Has Cathy got the champagne?

There was an immediate outpouring

of excitement

a bunch of kids yelling and

screaming and jumping up and down,

very unprofessional.

And then the whole force of

actually being at the very spot

where this tragedy had

taken place and seeing the ship,

it was very... everyone just cracked.

Emotionally everyone just went down

into a big trough.

And we had a simple

quiet service on the fantail.

We felt better and

it was that time realized that

I was deeply affected by it.

When we came back I wouldn't

talk about the Titanic for 4 months.

I just wouldn't talk about

it with anybody.

I just went and hid.

But Ballard's

Woods Hole laboratory soon

recaptured the thrill of discovery.

Reviewing pictures taken by

remote cameras,

Ballard was eager to get a

closer look.

Ballard was confident that the

submarine Alvin couldn reach the wreck

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Nicolas Noxon

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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