This is the last photograph of Titanic, prior to its sinking, taken as it was sailing out of Queenstown, Ireland, and into history and eventual doom, April 11th, 1912 @ 1:32pm.
I have always been fascinated by the Titanic. The other night as I was flipping around the channels looking for something to watch, I came upon an amazing program on the Knowledge Network, called “The Man Who Found the Titanic”, and it was the story of Dr. Robert Ballard, the marine archaeologist who found the debris field of the Titanic. The story of how the Titanic was found is interesting, involving the Cold War and the U.S. Navy's search for two Navy nuclear powered submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher, both of which sank in the 1960s.
Dr. Ballard approached the Navy about his new deep sea underwater robot craft, the Argo, and his search for the Titanic. The Navy however was not interested in spending a large sum of money in searching for the large ocean liner, but they were however, very interested in finding out what happened to their missing submarines and ultimately concluded that the Argo was their best chance to do so. In an agreement made with the Ballard, the Navy would finance Ballard's Titanic search only if he first searched for and investigated the two sunken submarines, and examined the state of their nuclear reactors after being submerged for such a long period of time to see if their radioactivity was impacting the environment. Ballard would be placed into temporary active duty in the Navy and in charge of finding and investigating the wrecks. After the two missions were completed, and if time and funding were permitting, Ballard would be free to use the resources to hunt for Titanic.
Ballard understood the ocean currents would create trails of debris that would make it easier to find the submarines rather than searching for the hulls. Following each of the submarines' large trails of debris led Ballard and his team directly to them. He knew, as well, that the Titanic had probably imploded from pressure depth, much the same way the two submarines had, and concluded that it too had left a trail of debris. Ballard and his team used Argo to sweep back and forth across the ocean floor looking for Titanic's debris trail. The team took shifts monitoring the video feed from Argo as it searched the ocean floor two miles below. ... The Knowledge Network.
On September 1, 1985, Dr. Robert Ballard found the Titanic.
Even by today’s standards, the Titanic was luxurious. Items and artifacts from the Titanic are at a premium, because of the mystique of the ship, and the opulence of the furnishings. In many ways, Dr. Ballard regretted locating the ship because in the years since 1985, Titanic has been pillaged, and in fact more damage has been done to her from artifact hunters than from the erosion of the Atlantic Ocean. He also believes that the location is sacred ground because so many men, women and children lost their lives there. He says when he visits the wreckage, he can still feel their spirits.
The story of the Titanic is one that will always fascinate people, and I think as long as the artifacts are regarded with the proper reverence, people should be permitted to view that important part of maritime history.
Here is a bit of Titanic trivia. Titanic had four smoke stacks, but only three of them were operational. The fourth stack was added to balance the lines of the ship, and make the other smoke stacks not look out of place. Without the fourth stack towards the back, she would have looked top-heavy. The fourth smoke stack served as air ventilation.