Timeline of the sinking of RMS Titanic and It's deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history -
RMS Titanic departing Southampton, for the first and only time, on 10 April 1912.
|Career ( United Kingdom)||White Star Line|
|Owner:||White Star Line|
|Port of registry:||Liverpool|
|Route:||Southampton to New York City|
|Ordered:||31 July 1908|
|Builder:||Harland and Wolff yards in Belfast, Ireland|
|Laid down:||31 March 1909|
|Launched:||31 May 1911|
|Completed:||31 March 1912|
|Maiden voyage:||10 April 1912|
|Identification:||Radio Callsign "MGY" |
UK Official Number: 131428
|Fate:||Sank on 15 April 1912 after hitting an iceberg in middle of Atlantic Ocean|
|Class and type:||Olympic-class ocean liner|
|Tonnage:||46,328 gross register tons (GRT)|
|Length:||882 ft 9 in (269.1 m)|
|Beam:||92 ft 0 in (28.0 m)|
|Height:||175 ft (53.3 m) (Keel to top of funnels)|
|Draught:||34 ft 7 in (10.5 m)|
|Depth:||64 ft 6 in (19.7 m)|
|Decks:||9 (Lettered A through G)|
|Installed power:|| |
|Capacity:||Passengers and crew (fully loaded): |
RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world when she set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City on 10 April 1912. Four days into the crossing, at 23:40 on 14 April 1912, she struck an iceberg and sank at 2:20 the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
An Olympic-class passenger liner, RMS Titanic was owned by the White Star Line and constructed at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. She set sail for New York City with 2,227 people on board. The high casualty rate when the ship sank was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship carried lifeboats for only 1,178 people. A disproportionate number of men died due to the women and children first protocol that was followed.
Titanic was designed by some of the most experienced engineers, and used some of the most advanced technologies available at the time. It was a great shock to many that, despite the extensive safety features, Titanic sank. The frenzy on the part of the media about Titanic's famous victims, the legends about the sinking, the resulting changes to maritime law, and the discovery of the wreck have contributed to the interest in Titanic.
Construction of RMS Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co., began on 31 March 1909. Titanic's hull was launched on 31 May 1911, and her outfitting was completed by 31 March the following year. Her length overall was 882 feet 9 inches (269.1 m), the moulded breadth 92 feet 0 inches (28.0 m), the tonnage 46,328 GRT, and the height from the water line to the boat deck of 59 feet (18 m). She was equipped with two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines and one low-pressure Parsons turbine, each driving a propeller. There were 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). Only three of the four 62 feet (19 m) funnels were functional: the fourth, which served only for ventilation, was added to make the ship look more impressive. The ship could carry a total of 3,547 passengers and crew.
Titanic surpassed all her rivals in luxury and opulence. The First-class section had an on-board swimming pool, a gymnasium, a squash court, Turkish bath, Electric bath and a Verandah Cafe. First-class common rooms were adorned with ornate wood panelling, expensive furniture and other decorations. In addition, the Café Parisien offered cuisine for the first-class passengers, with a sunlit veranda fitted with trellis decorations. There were libraries and barber shops in both the first and second-class. The third class general room had pine panelling and sturdy teak furniture. The ship incorporated technologically advanced features for the period. She had three electric elevators in first class and one in second class. She had also an extensive electrical subsystem with steam-powered generators and ship-wide wiring feeding electric lights and two Marconi radios, including a powerful 1,500-watt set manned by two operators working in shifts, allowing constant contact and the transmission of many passenger messages. First-class passengers paid a hefty fee for such amenities. The most expensive one-way trans-Atlantic passage was £875 (£64,204 as of 2010), or $4,375 ($99,237 as of 2010),
Titanic was fitted with five ballast and bilge pumps, used for trimming the vessel, and three bilge pumps. Two 10-inch (250 mm) main ballast pipes ran the length of the ship and valves controlling the distribution of water were operated from the bulkhead deck, above. The total discharge capacity from all eight pumps operating together was 1,700 tons or 425,000 gallons per hour. During the disaster, the engineers reported that the pumps succeeded in slowing the flooding of No. 6 boiler room in the first ten minutes after the collision. The pumps also kept pace with the flooding on No. 5 boiler room. This does not indicate that the vessel could have maintained buoyancy indefinitely, but as long as the pumps had steam to power them, the ship could slow down the flooding. Titanic could not founder until these sections were flooded and the inrush of water overwhelmed the pumps. This did not happen until 23:50 pm on the night of the sinking.
Comparisons with the Olympic-
Titanic closely resembled her older sister Olympic. Although she enclosed more space and therefore had a larger gross register tonnage, the hull was almost the same length as Olympic's. Two of the most noticeable differences were that half of Titanic's forward promenade A-Deck (below the boat deck) was enclosed against outside weather, and her B-Deck configuration was different from Olympic's. As built Olympic did not have an equivalent of Titanic's Café Parisien: the feature was not added until 1913. Some of the flaws found on Olympic, such as the creaking of the aft expansion joint, were corrected on Titanic. The skid lights that provided night time illumination on A-deck were round, while on Olympic they were oval. Titanic's wheelhouse was made narrower and longer than Olympic's. These, and other modifications, made TitanicOlympic and thus the largest active ship in the world during her maiden voyage in April 1912. 1,004 gross register tons larger than
Titanic's sea trials took place shortly after she was fitted out at Harland & Wolff shipyard. The trials were originally scheduled for 10.00am on Monday, 1 April, just nine days before she was due to leave Southampton on her maiden voyage, but poor weather conditions forced the trials to be postponed until the following day.
Aboard Titanic were 78 stokers, greasers and firemen, and 41 members of crew. No domestic staff appear to have been aboard. Representatives of various companies travelled on Titanic's sea trials, including Harold A. Sanderson of I.M.M and Thomas Andrews and Edward Wilding of Harland and Wolff. Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie were too ill to attend. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride served as radio operators, and performed fine-tuning of the Marconi equipment. Mr Carruthers, a surveyor from the Board of Trade, was also present to see that everything worked, and that the ship was fit to carry passengers. After the trial, he signed an 'Agreement and Account of Voyages and Crew', valid for twelve months, which deemed the ship sea-worthy.
On the maiden voyage of Titanic some of the most prominent people of the day were travelling in first class. Among them were millionaire John Jacob Astor IV and his wife Madeleine Force Astor, industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim, Macy's owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida, Denver millionairess Margaret "Molly" Brown (known afterward as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" due to her efforts in helping other passengers while the ship sank), Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, couturière Lucy (Lady Duff-Gordon), George Dunton Widener, his wife Eleanor, and son Harry, cricketer and businessman John Borland Thayer with his wife Marian and their seventeen-year-old son Jack, journalist William Thomas Stead, the Countess of Rothes, United States presidential aide Archibald Butt, author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee, author Jacques Futrelle his wife May and their friends, Broadway producers Henry and Rene Harris and silent film actress Dorothy Gibson among others. Banker J. P. Morgan was scheduled to travel on the maiden voyage, but cancelled at the last minute. Travelling in first class aboard the ship were White Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay and the ship's builder Thomas Andrews, who was on board to observe any problems and assess the general performance of the new ship.
On the night of Sunday, 14 April 1912, the temperature had dropped to near freezing and the ocean was calm. The moon was not visible (being two days before new moon), and the sky was clear. Captain Smith, in response to iceberg warnings received via wireless over the preceding few days, had drawn up a new course which took the ship slightly further southward. That Sunday at 13:45, a message from the steamer AmerikaTitanic's path, but as Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, the Marconi wireless radio operators, were employed by Marconi and paid to relay messages to and from the passengers, they were not focused on relaying such "non-essential" ice messages to the bridge. Later that evening, another report of numerous large icebergs, this time from Mesaba, also failed to reach the bridge. warned that large icebergs lay in
At 23:40, while sailing about 400 miles (640 km) south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, lookouts Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted a large iceberg directly ahead of the ship. Fleet sounded the ship's bell three times and telephoned the bridge exclaiming, "Iceberg, right ahead!". First Officer Murdoch gave the order "hard-a-starboard", using the traditional tiller order for an abrupt turn to port (left), and adjusted the engines (he either ordered through the telegraph for "full reverse" or "stop" on the engines; survivor testimony on this conflicts). The iceberg brushed the ship's starboard side (right side), buckling the hull in several places and popping out rivets below the waterline over a length of 299 feet (90 m). As seawater filled the forward compartments, the watertight doors shut. However, while the ship could barely stay afloat with the foremost four compartments flooded, the foremost six were filling with water. The water-filled compartments weighed down the ship's bow, allowing much water to flood the vessel, accelerated by secondary flooding as regular openings in the ship's hull became submerged. Additionally, about 130 minutes after the collision, water started pouring from the sixth into the seventh compartment over the top of the bulkhead in between. Captain Smith, alerted by the jolt of the impact, arrived on the bridge and ordered a full stop. Shortly after midnight on 15 April, following an inspection by the ship's officers and Thomas Andrews, the lifeboats were ordered to be readied and a distress call was sent out.
Wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy sending out CQD, the international distress signal. Several ships responded, including Mount Temple, Frankfurt and Titanic's sister ship, Olympic, but none was close enough to arrive in time. The closest ship to respond was Cunard Line's Carpathia 58 miles (93 km) away, which could arrive in an estimated four hours—too late to rescue all of Titanic's passengers. The only land–based location that received the distress call from Titanic was a wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.
From the bridge, the lights of a nearby ship could be seen off the port side. The identity of this ship remains a mystery but there have been theories suggesting that it was probably either SS Californian or a sealer called Samson. As it was not responding to wireless, Fourth Officer Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe attempted signalling the ship with a Morse lamp and later with distress rockets, but the ship never appeared to respond. Californian, which was nearby and stopped for the night because of ice, also saw lights in the distance. Californian's wireless was turned off, and the wireless operator had gone to bed for the night. Just before he went to bed at around 23:00, Californian's radio operator attempted to warn Titanic that there was ice ahead, but he was cut off by an exhausted Jack Phillips, who had fired back an angry response, "Shut up, shut up, I am busy; I am working Cape Race", referring to the Newfoundland wireless station. When Californian's officers first saw the ship, they tried signalling her with their Morse lamp, but also never appeared to receive a response. Later, they noticed Titanic's distress signals over the lights and informed Captain Stanley Lord. Even though there was much discussion about the mysterious ship, which to the officers on duty appeared to be moving away, the master of Californian did not wake her wireless operator until morning.
The first lifeboat launched was Lifeboat 7 on the starboard side with 28 people on board out of a capacity of 65. It was lowered at around 00:40 as believed by the British Inquiry. Lifeboat 6 and Lifeboat 5 were launched ten minutes later. Lifeboat 1 was the fifth lifeboat to be launched with 12 people. Lifeboat 11 was overloaded with 70 people. Collapsible D was the last lifeboat to be launched. Titanic carried 20 lifeboats with a total capacity of 1,178 people. While not enough to hold all of the passengers and crew, Titanic carried more boats than was required by the British Board of Trade Regulations. At the time, the number of lifeboats required was determined by a ship's gross register tonnage, rather than her human capacity.
Titanic was given ample stability and sank with only a few degrees list, the design being such that there was very little risk of unequal flooding and possible capsize. Furthermore the electric power plant was operated by the ship's engineers until the end. Hence Titanic showed no outward signs of being in imminent danger, and passengers were reluctant to leave the apparent safety of the ship to board small lifeboats. Large numbers of Third Class passengers were unable to reach the lifeboat deck through unfamiliar parts of the ship and past barriers, although some stewards such as William Denton Cox successfully led some groups from Third Class to the lifeboats. As a result, most of the boats were launched partially empty; one boat meant to hold 40 people left Titanic with only 12 people on board. With "Women and children first" the imperative for loading lifeboats, Second Officer Lightoller, who was loading boats on the port side, allowed men to board only if oarsmen were needed, even if there was room. First Officer Murdoch, who was loading boats on the starboard side, let men on board if women were absent. As the ship's list increased people started to become nervous, and some lifeboats began leaving fully loaded. By 02:05, the entire bow was under water, and all the lifeboats, except for two, had been launched.
Around 02:10, the stern rose out of the water exposing the propellers, and by 02:17 the waterline had reached the boat deck. The last two lifeboats floated off the deck, collapsible B upside down, collapsible A half-filled with water after the supports for its canvas sides were broken in the fall from the roof of the officers' quarters. Shortly afterward, the forward funnel collapsed, crushing part of the bridge and people in the water. On deck, people were scrambling towards the stern or jumping overboard in hopes of reaching a lifeboat. The ship's stern slowly rose into the air, and everything unsecured crashed towards the water. While the stern rose, the electrical system finally failed and the lights went out. Shortly afterward, the stress on the hull caused Titanic to break apart between the last two funnels, and the bow went completely under. The stern righted itself slightly and then rose vertically. After a few moments, at 02:20, it also sank.
Only two of the 18 launched lifeboats rescued people after the ship sank. Lifeboat 4 was close by and picked up five people, two of whom later died. Close to an hour later, lifeboat 14 went back and rescued four people, one of whom died afterward. Other people managed to climb onto the lifeboats that floated off the deck. There were some arguments in some of the other lifeboats about going back, but many survivors were afraid of being swamped by people trying to climb into the lifeboat or being pulled down by the suction from the sinking Titanic, though it turned out that there had been very little suction.
As the ship fell into the depths, the two sections behaved very differently. The streamlined bow planed off approximately 2,000 feet (609 m) below the surface and slowed somewhat, landing relatively gently. The stern plunged violently to the ocean floor, the hull being torn apart along the way from massive implosions caused by compression of the air still trapped inside. The stern smashed into the bottom at considerable speed, grinding the hull deep into the silt.
After steaming at 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h) for just under four hours, RMS Carpathia arrived in the area and at 04:10 began rescuing survivors. By 08:30 she picked up the last lifeboat with survivors and left the area at 08:50 bound for New York.
Survivors, victims and statistics-
|Category||Number aboard||Number of survivors||Percentage survived||Number lost||Percentage lost|
|First class||329||199||60.5 %||130||39.5 %|
|Second class||285||119||41.8 %||166||58.2 %|
|Third class||710||174||24.5 %||536||75.5 %|
|Crew||899||214||23.8 %||685||76.2 %|
|Total||2,223||706||31.8 %||1,517||68.2 %|
Of a total of 2,223 people aboard Titanic only 706, less than a third, survived and 1,517 perished. The majority of deaths were caused by hypothermia in the 28 °F (−2 °C) water where death could be expected in less than 15 minutes.
Retrieval and burial of the dead-
Once the massive loss of life became clear, White Star Line chartered the cable ship CS Mackay-BennettMinia, the lighthouse supply ship Montmagny and the sealing vessel Algerine. Each ship left with embalming supplies, undertakers, and clergy. Of the 333 victims that were eventually recovered, 328 were retrieved by the Canadian ships and five more by passing North Atlantic steamships. Most of the bodies were numbered. The five passengers buried at sea by Carpathia went unnumbered. In mid-May 1912, over 200 miles (320 km) from the site of the sinking, RMS Oceanic recovered three bodies, numbers 331, 332 and 333, who were occupants of Collapsible A, which was swamped in the last moments of the sinking. Several people managed to reach this lifeboat, although some died during the night. When Fifth Officer Harold Lowe rescued the survivors of Collapsible A, he left the three dead bodies in the boat: Thomas Beattie, a first-class passenger, and two crew members, a fireman and a seaman. The bodies were buried at sea from Oceanic. from Halifax, Nova Scotia to retrieve bodies. Three other ships followed in the search, the cable ship
The first body recovery ship to reach the site of the sinking, the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett found so many bodies that the embalming supplies aboard were quickly exhausted. Health regulations permitted that only embalmed bodies could be returned to port. Captain Larnder of the Mackay-Bennett and undertakers aboard decided to preserve all bodies of First Class passengers, justifying their decision by the need to visually identify wealthy men to resolve any disputes over large estates. As a result the burials at sea were third class passengers and crew. Larnder himself claimed that as a mariner, he would expect to be buried at sea. However complaints about the burials at sea were made by families and undertakers. Later ships such as Minia found fewer bodies, requiring fewer embalming supplies, and were able to limit burials at sea to bodies which were too damaged to preserve.
Bodies recovered were preserved to be taken to Halifax, the closest city to the sinking with direct rail and steamship connections. The Halifax coroner, John Henry Barnstead, developed a detailed system to identify bodies and safeguard personal possessions. His identification system would later be used to identify victims of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Relatives from across North America came to identify and claim bodies. A large temporary morgue was set up in a curling rink and undertakers were called in from all across Eastern Canada to assist. Some bodies were shipped to be buried in their home towns across North America and Europe. About two-thirds of the bodies were identified. Unidentified victims were buried with simple numbers based on the order in which their bodies were discovered. The majority of recovered victims, 150 bodies, were buried in three Halifax cemeteries, the largest being Fairview Lawn Cemetery followed by the nearby Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch cemeteries. Much floating wreckage was also recovered with the bodies, many pieces of which can be seen today in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.
In many locations there are memorials to the dead of Titanic. In Southampton, England a memorial to the engineers of Titanic may be found in Andrews Park on Above Bar Street. Opposite the main memorial is a memorial to Wallace Hartley and the other musicians who played on the ship. A memorial to the ship's five postal workers, which says "Steadfast in Peril" is held by Southampton Heritage Services.
A memorial to the liner is also located on the grounds of City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
There are a number of memorials in the United States — the Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C. and a memorial to Ida Straus at Straus Park in Manhattan, New York are two examples.
On 15 April 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic is planned to be commemorated around the world. By that date, the Titanic Quarter in Belfast is planned to have been completed. The area will be regenerated and a signature memorial project unveiled to celebrate Titanic and her links with Belfast, the city that had built the ship.
The cruise ship Balmoral, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has been chartered by Miles Morgan Travel to follow the original route of Titanic, intending to stop over the point on the sea bed where she rests on 15 April 2012.
Investigations into the RMS Titanic disaster-
Before the survivors even arrived in New York, investigations were being planned to discover what had happened, and what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The United States Senate initiated an inquiry into the disaster on 19 April, a day after Carpathia arrived in New York.
The chairman of the inquiry, Senator William Alden Smith, wanted to gather accounts from passengers and crew while the events were still fresh in their minds. Smith also needed to subpoena the British citizens while they were still on American soil. This prevented all surviving passengers and crew from returning to the UK before the American inquiry, which lasted until 25 May, was completed. The British press condemned Smith as an opportunist, insensitively forcing an enquiry as a means of gaining political prestige and seizing "his moment to stand on the world stage". Already, however, he had a reputation as a campaigner for safety on the railroads of the U.S. and he wanted to investigate any possible malpractices by railroad tycoon J. P. Morgan, Titanic's ultimate owner.
Lord Mersey was appointed to head the British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster. The British inquiry took place between 2 May and 3 July. Each inquiry took testimony from both passengers and crew of Titanic, crew members of Leyland Line's Californian, Captain Arthur Rostron of Carpathia and other experts.
The investigations found that many safety rules were simply out of date, and new laws were recommended. Numerous safety improvements for ocean-going vessels were implemented, including improved hull and bulkhead design, access throughout the ship for egress of passengers, lifeboat requirements, improved life-vest design, the holding of safety drills, better passenger notification, radio communications laws, etc. The investigators also learned that Titanic had sufficient lifeboat space for all first-class passengers, but not for the lower classes. In fact, most third class passengers had no idea where the lifeboats were, much less any way of getting up to the higher decks where the lifeboats were stowed. U.S. immigration regulations required complete isolation of third class passengers and the route to the boat deck, through the higher classes of accommodation, was somewhat tortuous as a result. A third-class steward, John Hart, had to guide E-deck passengers, in two trips, to the boat deck but many were left behind.
SS Californian inquiry-
Both inquiries into the disaster found that the SS Californian and her captain, Stanley Lord, failed to give proper assistance to Titanic. Testimony before the inquiry revealed that at 22:10, Californian observed the lights of a ship to the south; it was later agreed between Captain Lord and Third Officer C.V. Groves (who had relieved Lord of duty at 22:10) that this was a passenger liner. Californian had warned the ship by radio of the pack ice because of which Californian had stopped for the night, but was violently rebuked by Titanic's senior wireless operator, Jack Phillips. At 23:50, the officer had watched this ship's lights flash out, as if the ship had shut down or turned sharply, and that the port light was now observed. Morse light signals to the ship, upon Lord's order, occurred five times between 23:30 and 01:00, but were not acknowledged. (In testimony, it was stated that Californian's Morse lamp had a range of about four miles (6 km), so could not have been seen from Titanic.)
Captain Lord had retired at 23:30; however, Second Officer Herbert Stone, now on duty, notified Lord at 01:15 that the ship had fired a rocket, followed by four more. Lord wanted to know if they were company signals, that is, coloured flares used for identification. Stone said that he did not know and that the rockets were all white. Captain Lord instructed the crew to continue to signal the other vessel with the Morse lamp, and went back to sleep. Three more rockets were observed at 01:50 and Stone noted that the ship looked strange in the water, as if she were listing. At 02:15, Lord was notified that the ship could no longer be seen. Lord asked again if the lights had had any colours in them, and he was informed that they were all white.
Californian eventually responded. At 05:30, Chief Officer George Stewart awakened wireless operator Cyril Evans, informed him that rockets had been seen during the night, and asked that he try to communicate with any ships. Frankfurt notified the operator of Titanic's loss, Captain Lord was notified, and the ship set out for assistance.
Discovery of the wreck-
The idea of finding the wreck of Titanic, and even raising the ship from the ocean floor, had been around since shortly after the ship sank. No attempts were successful until 1 September 1985, when a joint American-French expedition, led by Jean-Louis Michel (Ifremer) and Dr. Robert Ballard (WHOI), located the wreck using the side-scan sonar from the research vessels Knorr and Le Suroit. In June 1985, the French ship Le Suroit began systematically crossing the 150-square-mile (390 km2) target zone with her deep-search sonar. Le Suroit covered 80 percent of the zone, leaving only 20 percent for the American ship Knorr. The wreck was found at a depth of 2.5 miles (4 km), slightly more than 370 miles (600 km) south-east of Mistaken Point, Newfoundland at Coordinates: , 13 miles (21 km) from fourth officer Joseph Boxhall's last position reading where Titanic was originally thought to rest. Ballard noted that his crew had paid out 12,500 feet (3,810 m) of the sonar's tow cable at the time of the discovery of the wreck, giving an approximate depth of the seabed of 12,450 feet (3,795 m). Ifremer, the French partner in the search, records a depth of 3,800 m (12,467 ft), an almost exact equivalent. These are approximately 2.33 miles (3.75 km), and they are often rounded upwards to 2.5 miles (4.0 km) or 4 km. Video cameras aboard the unmanned submersible Argo were the first to document Titanic's visual state on the bottom of the ocean. The submersible was based on Knorr and the images retrieved were featured in National Geographic by December 1985. In 1986, Ballard returned to the wreck site aboard Atlantis II to conduct the first manned dives to the wreck in the submersible Alvin.
Ballard had in 1982 requested funding for the project from the US Navy, but this was provided only on the then secret condition that the first priority was to examine the wreckage of the sunken US nuclear submarines USS Thresher and USS Scorpion. Only when these had been photographed did the search for Titanic begin.
The most notable discovery the team made was that the ship had split apart, the stern section lying 1,970 feet (600 m) from the bow section and facing opposite directions. There had been conflicting witness accounts of whether the ship broke apart or not, and both the American and British inquiries found that the ship sank intact. Up until the discovery of the wreck, it was generally assumed that the ship did not break apart.
The bow section had struck the ocean floor at a position just under the forepeak, and embedded itself 60 feet (18 m) into the silt on the ocean floor. Although parts of the hull had buckled, the bow was mostly intact. The collision with the ocean floor forced water out of Titanic through the hull below the well deck. One of the steel covers (reportedly weighing approximately ten tonnes) was blown off the side of the hull. The bow is still under tension, in particular the heavily damaged and partially collapsed decks.
The stern section was in much worse condition, and appeared to have been torn apart during its descent. Unlike the bow section, which was flooded with water before it sank, it is likely that the stern section sank with a significant volume of air trapped inside it. As it sank, the external water pressure increased but the pressure of the trapped air could not follow suit due to the many air pockets in relatively sealed sections. Therefore, some areas of the stern section's hull experienced a large pressure differential between outside and inside which possibly caused an implosion. Further damage was caused by the sudden impact of hitting the seabed; with little structural integrity left, the decks collapsed as the stern hit.
Surrounding the wreck is a large debris field with pieces of the ship, furniture, dinnerware and personal items scattered over one square mile (2.6 km²). Softer materials, like wood, carpet and human remains were devoured by undersea organisms.
Dr. Ballard and his team did not bring up any artefacts from the site, considering this to be tantamount to grave robbing. Under international maritime law, however, the recovery of artefacts is necessary to establish salvage rights to a shipwreck. In the years after the find, Titanic has been the object of a number of court cases concerning ownership of artefacts and the wreck site itself. In 1994, RMS Titanic Inc. was awarded ownership and salvaging rights of the wreck, even though RMS Titanic Inc. and other salvaging expeditions have been criticised for taking items from the wreck. Among the items recovered by RMS Titanic Inc. was the ship's whistle, which was brought to the surface in 1992 and placed in the company's travelling exhibition. It has been operated only twice since, using compressed air rather than steam, because of its fragility.
Approximately 6,000 artefacts have been removed from the wreck. Many of these were put on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, and later as part of a travelling museum exhibit.
A new expedition using sonar technology and high-resolution optical video and imaging has been started by RMS Titanic Inc. to document the wreck site. The new effort, Expedition Titanic, will deploy the most advanced 3DHD film and acoustic modeling to bring Titanic to life. The high-resolution photos and video are expected to reveal never-before-seen parts of Titanic (Scotland Road, the ship's pool, etc). The 20-day expedition will use remotely operated submersibles to complete an unprecedented archaeological analysis of the two- by three-mile (three- by five-kilometre) debris field, including Titanic’s two halves. Expedition Titanic will gather hard data too, for example by measuring the thickness of the ship’s hull and by hauling up and examining experimental steel platforms placed at the site.
Current condition of the wreck-
Many scientists, including Robert Ballard, are concerned that visits by tourists in submersibles and the recovery of artefacts are hastening the decay of the wreck. Underwater microbes have been eating away at Titanic's steel since the ship sank, but because of the extra damage visitors have caused the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that "the hull and structure of the ship may collapse to the ocean floor within the next 50 years."
Ballard's book Return to Titanic, published by the National Geographic Society, includes photographs depicting the deterioration of the promenade deck and damage caused by submersibles landing on the ship. The mast has almost completely deteriorated and has been stripped of its bell and brass light. Other damage includes a gash on the bow section where block letters once spelled Titanic, part of the brass telemotor which once held the ship's wooden wheel is now twisted and the crow's nest has completely deteriorated.