Plumbing the depths

Written By : DAILY MAIL REPORTER. This amazing picture of Titanic Captain Edward Smith’s private bathtub is among a series of spectacular images that have been shown for the first
08 Jul 2011 12:00

image Written By : DAILY MAIL REPORTER. This amazing picture of Titanic Captain Edward Smith’s private bathtub is among a series of spectacular images that have been shown for the first time during a court case into the salvage rights.
The porcelain tub, which has intricate plumbing for both freshwater and seawater, has sat in the captain’s cabin at the bottom of the ocean for almost 100 years.
Captain Smith went down with his ship on April 14, 1912. He was one of an estimated 1500 people who lost their lives in the tragedy.
Scientists showed never-seen-before images in a Virginia courtroom during an ongoing case into salvage rights.
Those present at the federal court room in Norfolk were given 3-D glasses to take a virtual tour of the Titanic’s stern, which lies 2000 feet (609 metres) from the bow.
They were shown a series of dramatic three-dimensional views of the rusting hulk and the ghostly images of the sea floor where the ship sank almost a century ago.
The team who took part in a 2010 expedition to the North Atlantic wreck site said the images, taken from a remote-controlled submersible vehicle, were the most extensive and highest quality ever taken of the Titanic.
The ongoing salvage claim is still in dispute 26 years after the Titanic was discovered by oceanographer Robert Ballard.
The company has exclusive rights to salvage the wreck, and has gathered nearly 6000 objects from the once-opulent cruise ship. They are valued in excess of $110 million.
Many veterans of past Titanic expeditions were recruited for the 2010 trip which was organised by RMS Titanic Inc.
The team used the latest recording technologies, stitching together images in a mosaic-like process to create large-scale, almost panoramic views of the wreck.
It allowed them to map the three-by-five-mile (4.8-by-8 kilometres) wreck site, which is located 2 1/2 miles (four kilometres) below the ocean’s surface. The experts said the entire debris field had now been documented for the first time.
Scientists said the images would eventually allow members of the public to take a virtual tour of the Titanic using a joystick to navigate around the wreck.
US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith ruled last year that RMS Titanic is entitled to full compensation for the Titanic trove, but has not determined how it will be paid.
This week’s hearing was intended, in part, to demonstrate the extraordinary costs to RMS Titanic of organising the risky expeditions and salvage operations.
The seas above the wreck are commonly raked by fierce storms, and the wreck site is pitch black and subject to powerful deep-ocean currents.
William N Lange of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts said: “We have an image of everything. That’s what’s important.
“This has never been done before in the deep sea.”
Since Ballard and an international team discovered the Titanic, most of the expeditions have either been to photograph the wreck or gather thousands of artefacts, like fine china, shoes and ship fittings.
Film director James Cameron also has led teams to the wreck to record the bow and the stern.
Chris Davino, president and CEO of Premier Exhibitions, RMS Titanic’s parent company, estimated the cost of the 2010 expedition at between $4 million and $5m.
He said company officials had not decided whether they would launch another salvage expedition.
The Titanic struck ice while making its maiden voyage on April 12, 1912, about 400 miles (645 kilometres) off Newfoundland, Canada.
More than 1500 of the 2228 passengers and crew perished as the liner plunged into the deep.

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