New Photos of the Titanic as You’ve Never Seen It

You’d be forgiven for thinking — as I did — that the Titanic‘s story is sufficiently well-known 111 years after its infamous demise.

Yet it only takes a glance at the digital images released this week to see the shipwreck as no one has seen it before.

For the first time, the ship’s entire hull is visible in its resting place 3,800m below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to 200 hours of work from the mapping company Magellan, the wreck appears as a decaying skeleton in the pitch-black desert of the deep sea.

Even for long-time students of the Titanic’s history, the images felt extraordinary. Parks Stephenson, who has studied the Titanic for many years, told the BBC he was “blown away” when he first laid eyes on the scans.

“It allows you to see the wreck as you can never see it from a submersible, and you can see the wreck in its entirety, you can see it in context and perspective,” Stephenson said. “And what it’s showing you now is the true state of the wreck.”

700,000 images stitched together

Many Titanic enthusiasts will be familiar with the close-up, slow-moving videos taken from submersibles, especially from James Cameron’s documentaries.

Now, thanks to 700,000 images pieced together into a 3D reconstruction, the whole world can see the Titanic from a wider perspective.

Even for those not obsessed with the ship’s history, the story retains a profound sense of tragedy.

titanic wreck

Though the wreck is remarkably well-preserved, it’s clear microbes are eating away at the ship’s hull. Image: Screenshot/Magellan


Some mysteries remain

More than 1,500 people died when the Titanic struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage in 1912. More than 100 years later, evidence of their lives still exists in the personal objects scattered throughout the massive debris field around the wreck. Those include dozens of shoes resting on the sediment, unopened champagne bottles, and ornate metalwork broken off the ship.

Researchers hope the images can help with unanswered questions about exactly what happened to the liner on that terrible night in 1912.

“There are still questions, basic questions, that need to be answered about the ship,” Stephenson, a Titanic analyst, told BBC News.

“We really don’t understand the character of the collision with the iceberg. We don’t even know if she hit it along the starboard side, as is shown in all the movies – she might have grounded on the iceberg,” he said.

Stay tuned: Atlantic Productions, which partnered with Magellan, will make a documentary about the project.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.