Largest, most luxurious, and unsinkable

The largest and most luxurious passenger ship of its time, the R.M.S. Titanic seems to forever hold a place as the most famous shipwreck of popular culture.

Heralded as unsinkable, on April 15, 1912, the ship struck an iceberg, and the Titanic broke apart, sinking 12,000 feet to the bottom of the ocean with more than 1,500 passengers and crew.

During a 2004 expedition, the ROV Hercules is seen here exploring the stern of Titanic, as photographed by its underwater counterpart, ROV Argus, both of which were deployed from the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown.

The most famous of sunken ships was only just discovered in 1985, and although a few parts have been salvaged, the site remains largely intact.

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is expected to draw an unprecedented amount of commercial shipping traffic to the wreck site, including cruise ships visiting the area, and submersible research expeditions diving to the wreck site, raising concerns.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island / Caption by:

Largest, most luxurious, and unsinkable

The bow of Titanic is seen here during a NOAA expedition in June 2004 from the remotely operated research vehicle the Hercules.

Since the wreck's discovery in 1985, NOAA has been involved in protecting and preserving, advocating responsible management and use of the site, and participated in exploration and scientific missions.

In 1985, Congress recognized the shipwreck as a site of "national and international cultural and historical significance" in need of international protection and enacted the R.M.S. Titanic Maritime Memorial Act of 1986, signed by President Reagan.

This year, new international steps will be enacted to protect the site when the Titanic comes under the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage beginning April 15, 2012, the 100th anniversary of its sinking.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island or NOAA/IFE/URI / Caption by:

A missed warning via telegram

On the April 14, 1912, the day she hit the cold, jagged ice, the Titanic was actually warned of the potential danger of Atlantic icebergs when it acted as a relay for a message sent by the German S.S. Amerika.

Traveling ahead of them, the smaller Amerika encountered several large icebergs near 41°27’N, 50°8’W, and used the Titanic's larger radio antennae to relay the message to the ground station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Caption by:
At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, four days into the trans-Atlantic journey the ship hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean 375 miles south of Newfoundland in the early morning hours of April 15.
Updated:
Photo by: Google Maps / Caption by:

Extra! Extra!

The front page of the New York City Herald on April 16, 1912, describing the sinking of the Titanic.
Updated:
Photo by: Library of Congress / Caption by:

Capt. Smith's barnacle covered bathroom

A view of the bathtub in Capt. Smith's bathroom is seen here, during the 2003 Titanic exploration, rusticles blanket the pipes and fixtures.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island or NOAA/IFE/URI / Caption by:

Deep Submergence Vehicle Mir

Dozens of tourists, scientists, salvagers, and filmmakers have visited the Titanic site since Robert Ballard discovered the great wreck on September 1, 1985. Here, the Russian Deep Submergence Vehicle Mir is see as it is recovered following an expedition to the Titanic in 2003.

This year, new international steps will be enacted to protect the site when the Titanic comes under the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage beginning April 15, 2012, the 100th anniversary of its sinking.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island or NOAA/IFE/URI / Caption by:

Port side forward expansion joint

A port side forward expansion joint on the boat deck of the bow section of the shipwreck Titanic seen during an expedition on June 1, 2004, by the remotely operated vehicle Hercules. The mission was largely a do-not-touch photographic mission, with high definition still and video capturing the views 12,000 feet below, with cameras mounted on the underwater robots.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island / Caption by:

Titanic's starboard railing

This view of the starboard railing near the bow was photographed on June 1, 2004, by the Hercules during an expedition returning to the shipwreck of the Titanic.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island / Caption by:

Shoes of a victim

The shoes of a Titanic victim lie incredibly well preserved in a debris field near the stern on June 6, 2004, more than 90 years after the tragic accident.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island / Caption by:

New protection for wrecksite

This telemotor is the last piece of machinery remaining on the bridge of Titanic. Other artifacts have been pillaged from the site.

As of April 15, 2012, the Titanic comes under the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, a special designation which applies only to shipwrecks submerged for at least 100 years.

The convention gives governments authority to close their ports to all vessels undertaking exploration not conducted in accordance with the principles of the convention, and outlaws the destruction, pillaging, sale, and dispersion of objects found at the wreck site.
Updated:
Photo by: NOAA / Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island or NOAA/IFE/URI / Caption by:

Littered with modern garbage

The total number of expeditions to the wreck is unknown, but over the years, trips by scientists, filmmakers, salvagers have littered the site with sandbags, synthetic rope, anchor chains and other modern garbage now.
Updated:
Photo by: Institute for Exploration and the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

CNET's Holiday Gift Guide

Tablets that put your TV to shame

Binge-watch your favorite episodes on these portable screens.

Hot Products