Unseen 1986 Footage From Titanic Mission Is Released

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution posted the 80-minute video
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2023 1:00 AM CST

The sheer size of the vessel and the shoes were what struck Robert Ballard when he descended to the wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1986, the year after he and his crew from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution helped find the ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic in 1912. "The first thing I saw coming out of the gloom at 30 feet was this wall, this giant wall of riveted steel that rose over 100 and some feet above us," he said in an interview from Connecticut on Wednesday, the same day the WHOI released 80 minutes of never before publicly seen underwater video of the expedition to the wreckage.

The WHOI team, in partnership with a French oceanographic exploration organization, discovered the final resting place of the ship in 12,400 feet of water on Sept. 1, 1985, using a towed underwater camera. The AP reports the newly released footage was from a return expedition the following year, when the WHOI made 11 dives to explore the site, reports Fox News. Ballard was in the Alvin, a three-person submersible that allowed humans to lay eyes on the wreck; a remotely operated vehicle called Jason Jr. managed to go inside the sunken ship.

Ballard says he saw no human flesh or bones left, but he did see shoes, including the footwear of what appeared to be a mother and a baby, that looked like tombstones marking the spot where some of the roughly 1,500 people who perished came to rest on the ocean floor. "After the Titanic sank, those that went into the water that didn’t have lifejackets died of hypothermia and their bodies came raining down," he said. The video, much of it haunting and grainy interiors of the ship taken by the Jason Jr., is being released in conjunction with the 25th anniversary release on Feb. 10 of the remastered version of the Academy Award-winning movie Titanic.

(Read more Titanic stories.)

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