A new 3D scan shows the entire wreck of the Titanic for the first time

A new 3D scan shows the entire wreck of the Titanic for the first time

On Wednesday, April 10, 1912, a brand new ship departed from the port of Southampton, England, for New York. There is great excitement around the Titanic, one of three new luxury ships by shipping company White Star Line that should boost transatlantic shipping. After all, the four-stayed vessel is a wonder of sailing, equipped with the latest technical gadgets. “It can’t be flooded at all!” Media and shipping fanatics argued.

Squash at sea

There are more than 2,200 people on board: 1,300 passengers and at least 900 crew members. For the most important man on board, Captain Edward Jones Smith, this is the crowning glory of his work. Crossing over with the new Titanic is his last achievement before he can enjoy his retirement.

The ship is heading west through Ireland. The first days are going well. Those on board, especially those who booked a first-class ticket, enjoy the in-flight entertainment, including a squash hall, library, pool and lounge area. And then it falls on the evening of April 14th.

Iceberg with red paint

In the middle of the night, sailor Frederick Fleet, whose surname seems to already predict his career at sea, sees the Titanic heading straight for the ice floe. He sounds the alarm, but the cry for help is useless. The unsinkable ship collides with an iceberg weighing 300,000 tons.

Two hours later, the Titanic broke in two and sank to a depth of 3,800 metres. More than 1,500 people on board did not survive the disaster. Over the next day, the culprit was photographed from another ship, the German Prinz Adalbert: lines of red paint on a large iceberg betray the connection with the ship.

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The discovery of the ship in 1985

It wasn’t until 1985 that American oceanographer Robert Ballard found the wreck of the Titanic. A year later, he led the first investigation to learn more about the exact circumstances of the disaster. The first photos were also taken. However, many questions remain unanswered, including the source of the first leak.

The first 3D scan of the entire ship

In addition, due to its massive size, it is impossible to take a picture of the entire ship. So far. Magellan, a company that specializes in seafloor mapping, used more than 700,000 photographs to create a 3D scan of the entire wreck, which separates bow and stern by 800 metres.

The photos were taken in the summer of 2022. Over the past year, the photos have been meticulously studied and combined into one big model that looks like all the water has been pumped around the Titanic. That was a big challenge, says expedition member Gerhard Seifert against the BBC. Conducting research at a depth of four thousand meters is quite a challenge. You have to deal with the currents, and in order not to cause further damage to the wreck, you must not touch the ship.

With the 3D scans, the researchers hope to put together a new piece of Titanic’s complex puzzle. Until then, the world’s most famous shipping disaster strikes the imagination.

Watch the BBC video below showing the 3D scan.

As Director of Digital Content, Kevin is responsible for National Geographic’s digital channels. He previously wrote his stories on paper for National Geographic magazine, Traveler and History. In his spare time, he likes to visit places that bus tourists prefer to ignore, such as the Belgian ghost village of Doel, the unrecognized country of Transnistria or Iran. His best adventure was a train trip from North Korea to Holland, scoring the tastiest biscuits on the way in Mongolia.

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