Titanic to get first paying customers in 109 years as shipping documents deteriorate

Cemented in history as possibly the most famous shipwreck of all time, the RMS Titanic is now decomposing incredibly quickly as it is rocked by the deep ocean. The wreckage, which lies 3.8 kilometers (2.37 miles) below the surface about 740 kilometers (400 nautical miles) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, is rapidly disintegrating and may soon become unrecognizable.

Before that happens, an exploration company is starting annual trips this week to document the historic site, and the average person (with a lot of money) can get there.

Last year, OceanGate Expeditions announced for the price of around $ 100,000 to $ 150,000, civilians will be able to board the company’s submersible Titan and descend to see the Titanic. Now the first expedition, with a team of researchers and nine citizen scientists, has left Newfoundland to begin chronicling the deterioration of the ship. This will be the first commercial expedition on the Titanic, and the first time tourists will see the wreck up close.

While the price tag is steep – but not as high as the mystery bidder who just paid $ 28 million to go to space with Jeff Bezos – the trip includes a full week’s experience as the team documents the entire extent of the wreckage. The passengers will help the team collect images and sonar data around the debris field, document marine life, and will be among the only people to visit the wreck before its inevitable demise.

Since its discovery in 1985, the ship’s forward mast has collapsed, the poop has collapsed, the crow’s nest has disappeared, the gymnasium on the grand staircase has collapsed and the captain’s bathtub, made visible during the falling cabin walls, disappeared. The arc could collapse at any time.

Captain Smith’s bathtub. Image credit: Lori Johnston, RMS Titanic Expedition 2003, NOAA-OE / Public domain

The pioneering 109-year-old “unsinkable” liner is battered by ocean currents and consumed by bacteria and steel-eating archaea. Some have predicted that it could be gone in just a few decades, as the holes cause more collapses and entire sections to disintegrate.

“The ocean is taking this thing, and we have to document it before it all goes away or becomes unrecognizable,” Stockton Rush, president of OceanGate Expeditions, told AP. With the help of wealthy tourists offering funding for the ride, they hope to document as much as possible of the wreckage, the progress of decay, and even the ecosystem that has developed around it.


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