35 years later, discovery of Titanic was like finding treasure for historians, collectors

Tuesday marks 35 years since the discovery of iconic ship

The research vessel Knorr returns to home port at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution 9/9 carrying the scientists that discovered the wreck of the Titanic off Newfoundland.
The research vessel Knorr returns to home port at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution 9/9 carrying the scientists that discovered the wreck of the Titanic off Newfoundland. (Getty Images)

Tuesday marks the anniversary of a significant discovery made in an ocean: Sept. 1 is the 35th anniversary of the remains of the Titanic being discovered in the Atlantic, an occasion that brought headlines around the world in 1985.

That was for good reason, since finally discovering the Titanic 73 years after it sank was akin to finding the “Lost City of Atlantis,” and concluded decades of failed aspirations, ideas and attempts to find the wreckage.

A ‘Titanic’ secret

After the luxury ship sank in 1912 on its way to New York from England, there were numerous attempts by wealthy entrepreneurs and explorers to find the wreckage, in part to try and collect all the previous valuables that were likely still with it.

Ideas such as using molten wax, nylon balloons and ping pong balls to bring the wreck to the surface were discussed, but nothing worked due to financing, practicality, or proper understanding of the ocean’s depth.

Besides, nobody knew exactly where the ship was anyway, and even the most developed technology couldn’t locate it miles below the surface of the ocean.

That changed in the early 1980s, when Robert Ballard, an oceanographer who led a failed attempt to locate the Titanic in 1977, got the Navy to help fund the development of an unmanned camera sled named “Argo” that could be towed behind a surface ship at depth up to 20,000 feet, according to history.com.

The only problem was that the Navy didn’t want anything to do with the Titanic.


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