At rest on the seabed: The wreck of the Titanic as never seen before after sonar images reveal details of the doomed liner

At rest on the seabed:  The wreck of the Titanic as never seen before after sonar images reveal details of the doomed liner

Researchers hope the map will provide new clues about what happened when the famous vessel sank 100 years ago
Expedition team used sonar imaging and more than 100,000 photos taken from underwater robots to create the detailed map
It shows where hundreds of objects and pieces of the presumed-unsinkable vessel landed

For almost three-quarters of a century its location at the bottom of the ocean was a maritime mystery.

Even when explorers found the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, they struggled to understand exactly what happened on that terrible night she sank.

Now researchers have come up with the clearest picture yet of the huge debris field at the bottom of the North Atlantic

They used two robot vehicles to scan the ocean bottom day and night with sonar cameras, moving at 3mph back and forth in a grid pattern.

They then stitched together the 130,000 high-resolution photos on a computer to provide a detailed mosaic of the wreck.

The American team hope the results will provide clues about how the superliner broke apart after hitting an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people on its maiden voyage.

Marks on the ocean bottom suggest the stern rotated like a helicopter blade as the ship sank, smashing into the sea floor two and a half miles down at considerable speed, grinding the hull deep into the silt.

The bow, on the other hand, plunged straight down and landed relatively gently.

‘When you look at the sonar map, you can see exactly what happened,’ said Paul-Henry Nargeolet, one of the expedition’s leaders.

It is well known that the two halves settled almost half a mile apart.

But previous maps of the floor around the main wreckage were incomplete. Titanic historian Parks Stephenson said that studying the site with old maps was ‘like trying to navigate a dark room with a weak flashlight’.

‘But with the sonar map, it’s like suddenly the entire room lit up and you can go from room to room with a magnifying glass and document it,’ he said.

‘Nothing like this has ever been done for the Titanic site.’

The items mapped out include a huge tangle of the remains of a deckhouse, a large chunk of the side of the ship and a hatch cover that blew off the bow section as it sank to the bottom.

Other items include five of the ship’s huge boilers, a revolving door and even a lightning rod from a mast.


Full details of the new findings will be revealed by the History Channel in a two-hour documentary on April 15, exactly 100 years after the Titanic sank.

By examining the debris, investigators can now answer questions like how the ship broke apart, how it went down and whether there was a fatal flaw in the design, he said.

The layout of the wreck site and where the pieces landed provide new clues on exactly what happened. Computer simulations will re-enact the sinking in reverse, bringing the wreckage debris back to the surface and reassembled.

Some of those questions will be answered on the show, said Dirk Hoogstra, a senior vice president at History. He declined to say ahead of the show what new theories are being put forth on the sinking.

‘We’ve got this vision of the entire wreck that no one has ever seen before,’ he said. ‘Because we have, we’re going to be able to reconstruct exactly how the wreck happened. It’s groundbreaking, jaw-dropping stuff.’