The world is being treated to a glimpse of the Titanic shipwreck for the first time in 14 years — and a lot has changed.
Ocean explorer Victor Vescovo recorded footage of the famous ship 643-kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland, where he visited the wreck in a submersible vehicle equipped with 4K-resolution cameras earlier this month.
The eerie images and video footage he captured show the crumbling wreck is being rapidly devoured by underwater bacteria.
“First impressions, it’s big. It is a big wreck,” Vescovo said in a video interview. “I wasn’t fully ready for just how large it was. When it came up on sonar, it really stood out.”
Vescovo, who is also a Texas-based private equity investor, is leading a mission to map the bottom of the five oceans using a high-tech submersible vehicle that took three years to build.
He says he personally piloted the sub to a depth of 3,810 metres to visit the wrecked Titanic.
“The most amazing moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible, the first time when they reflected off of a portal and came right back,” he said. “It was like the ship was winking at me. It was really amazing.”
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Parks Stephenson, a Titanic historian who was also on the expedition, says the worst decay appears to be on the ship’s starboard side.
“That whole deck house on that side is collapsing, taking with it the state rooms,” he told BBC News. “And that deterioration is going to continue advancing.”
He added that one of the most well-known items on the ship also appears to have rusted away.
“The captain’s bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone,” Stephenson said.
The Titanic was meant to be unsinkable, but it crashed into an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.
Of the 2,227 passengers and crew aboard, only 705 survived after being rescued by a nearby ship, Carpathia.
Explorer Robert Ballard and his team embarked on an expedition in 1986 that discovered the shipwreck for the first time ever after it had been sitting in the dark for around 70 years.