Dr Robert Ballard’s stunning photographs of the Titanic, 12,500 feet
below the sea
Some 96 years after the Titanic sank, the diver who found her wreck in 1985 has returned to take a stunning series of photos and publish them in a new book, Titanic – The Last Great Images.
I have very mixed feelings about this kind of thing. No-one likes graves to be disturbed, but what remains of the old ship is the only monument that exists for most of the people on board who were lost. In the circumstances, it seems wrong that their memorial should be abandoned and forgotten. What’s more, as can sometimes happen with wrecks, these are stunning, outstanding photographs and on balance I think they should be shared, so long as we remember that this is someone’s grave and that they have relations still living.
In writing about returning to the Titanic, Dr Robert Ballard makes it clear he’s mortified by the way the wreck has been vandalised despite the protection provided by a depth of 12,500 feet of cold North Atlantic sea water, and says that the book is a kind of apology and ‘an opportunity to pay my respects to the ship, somewhat apologizing for the mean- spirited way in which the wreck has been picked over and vandalized’.
The following comes from the publisher’s blurb:
‘Detailed images of Titanic’s great reciprocating engines and massive boilers help us understand her technological significance as the culmination of sixty years of intense competition in the world luxury liners. The still-gleaming telemotor on her bridge, the opening to the crow ‘s nest and the lifeboat davits still poignantly extended outboard tell the tale of the dreadful night she sank.
‘A glimpse of the champagne bottles scattered across the sea floor or the gap that once held the magnificent first-class staircase evokes the stratified society that produced Titanic.
‘Other images remind us that Titanic was also a human story. A leather suitcase or a pair of shoes marks where a body once lay, and other haunting reminders of the passengers which found themselves helplessly enmeshed in an epic catastrophe.
‘Titanic – The Last Great Images provide us the clearest view of Titanic that we have ever seen, or will ever see. The rapidly deteriorating wreck may soon be gone – and then all we have left is her stories.’
It adds that Dr Ballard is a leading marine geologist and has been instrumental in the development of new underwater exploration technology, and with the NOAA international treaty to protect the ship from salvagers.
Get the book from Amazon in the US and the UK: