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Explorers Locate Titanic's Stern Intact

July 21, 1986|Associated Press

WOODS HOLE, Mass. — Explorers found the stern of the Titanic about 200 feet from the main portion of the sunken luxury liner, the expedition's leader reported Sunday.

"At least one third of the ship, the stern section, is intact," Robert Ballard said by radio from his research vessel, Atlantis 2, to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution after the seventh dive in eight days to the sunken ship.

"We were very surprised to find so large a section intact and sitting up in the water," he said. "Everything else was so damaged."

Towed Camera Finds Section

Ballard estimated the stern section was about 250 feet long and said it was discovered in photographs taken Saturday by a remotely controlled camera that was towed from the Atlantis 2.

"We're going to go down tomorrow and find the stern section and try to see the name 'Southampton' on the stern," Ballard said.

He said the stern section was in the debris field, a 660-foot stretch of ocean floor where many of the Titanic's objects fell as it sank to the bottom, 2 1/2 miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and about 450 miles southeast of Newfoundland.

Ballard also reported finding an engine room telegraph and more ship's boilers.

Lost on Maiden Voyage

The 882-foot Titanic was on its maiden voyage from Southampton in Britain when it struck an iceberg the night of April 14, 1912, and sank, killing 1,513 passengers and crew. The 704 survivors were mainly women and children.

Ballard and other expedition members were to dive today in the expedition's submarine, Alvin, said Shelley Lauzon, a spokeswoman at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which co-sponsored the expedition.

The photographs of the stern were apparently developed Saturday night or Sunday morning, Lauzon said. Researchers who had worked non-stop since July 13 processed and viewed a week's worth of film of the wreck and worked on the submarine instead of diving Saturday, Lauzon said.

Navy Pilot's First Trip

When the researchers resumed their exploration of the wreck by submarine Sunday, the trip was the first of the expedition to include a Navy pilot, Lauzon said. The Navy is paying $220,000 to test Jason Jr., a lawnmower-sized, camera-equipped robot tethered to the Alvin.

Ballard, who led the group that discovered the sunken liner last September, on Friday released 12 color slides and a three-minute color videotape of the rust-encrusted hulk showing a remarkably well-preserved crystal chandelier.

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