The Titanic has rested at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for over 100 years since it tragically sank in 1912.
Submarine expeditions to the wreckage have shown that large portions of the ship are still intact. However, given the rate of decay, experts predict that significant portions of the wreck will disintegrate to the point of being unrecognisable within the next few decades.
This brings us to the question of will Titanic ever be raised. Could bringing the remains of the Titanic to the surface could preserve the relic for future generations and allowed deeper research to be conducted by archaeologists, historians and scientists?
Is it even feasible to raise Titanic? In this article, I’ll explain all…
Past Titanic Retrieval Projects
While the Titanic itself has not been raised, thousands of artifacts from the wreck have been retrieved and preserved. This includes personal items of the passengers, parts of the ship, dinnerware, and even a section of the hull.
Since 1985, when the wreck was located, RMS Titanic Inc., the company that has the salvage rights to the Titanic, has conducted several expeditions to retrieve artifacts.
One of the largest pieces ever recovered is a section of the ship’s hull known as the “Big Piece.”
It was brought to the surface in 1998 during an expedition led by RMS Titanic Inc. The section is approximately 12 by 26 feet (3.7 by 7.9 meters) and weighs about 15 tons.
However, the salvage of these items has not been without controversy. Many believe that the wreck site should be left undisturbed out of respect for those who lost their lives in the disaster.
Would it be possible to raise Titanic to the surface?
Raising the whole of the Titanic from the bottom of the ocean wouldn’t be possible for several logistical reasons.
1. Depth and Pressure of the Ocean
The Titanic lies approximately 12,500 feet (2.37 miles, 3.81 kilometers) below the ocean’s surface. At this depth, the pressure is more than 370 times greater than at sea level, making operations incredibly challenging.
2. Size and Weight of the Vessel
The Titanic was a massive ship, measuring about 882 feet (269 meters) in length and weighing approximately 52,310 tons. Lifting an object of this size and weight from such a depth would require technology and resources beyond what currently exists.
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3. Fragility of the Wreck
Over a century in the salty, high-pressure environment of the deep ocean has left the Titanic’s steel structure extremely fragile. The process of lifting the ship could very likely cause it to disintegrate.
The Titanic is not intact – it’s broken into two main pieces and surrounded by a large debris field. The bow and stern are about 600 meters (2,000 feet) apart and would have to be raised separately, increasing the complexity of the task.
The expense of such an operation would be astronomical, likely running into billions of dollars.
Given the points above, it’s highly doubtful that any organization or government would be willing to undertake such a cost for a venture fraught with so many potential difficulties.
Ethical Considerations About Raising The Titanic
Of course, logistics are not the only reasons why the Titanic hasn’t and will likely never be raised. The idea also brings several ethical considerations to the forefront. Here are the things that we must consider…
1. Respect for the dead
The Titanic is the final resting place for over 1,500 people. Many people believe that, out of respect for the deceased and their descendants, the site should not be disturbed.
It is viewed by many as a maritime grave that deserves the same respect and sanctity we afford to land-based cemeteries.
The wreck of the Titanic is a significant archaeological site, and its context at the bottom of the ocean provides valuable historical information. Some argue that removing items from the site can disrupt this context and can be seen as historical vandalism.
2. Historical Integrity
The wreck of the Titanic is a significant archaeological site, and its context at the bottom of the ocean provides valuable historical information.
Most archaeologists believe that the Titanic and its artifacts should be preserved in situ. They argue that the focus should be on conservation and documentation rather than physical removal.
Removing items from the site can disrupt this context and has even been described as historical vandalism.
3. Commercial Exploitation
There are concerns that raising the Titanic or its artifacts can lead to their commercial exploitation. Artifacts can be sold to the highest bidder and many Titanic exhibitions make large profits. The Titanic Museum in Belfast made £4.2m of profits in 2019 alone.
Critics argue that this commodifies a human tragedy and disrespects the memory of those who lost their lives.
4. Prioritization of Resources
Some people argue that the resources used to raise the Titanic could be better spent on other pursuits, such as preserving other historical sites, advancing scientific research, or addressing social needs.
When so many people are struggling to afford food or to heat their homes, spending billions on raising a shipwreck would be very hard to justify.
The Bottom Line
The allure of the Titanic remains powerful and continues to captivate the collective imagination. However, the complexities of raising the ship from the ocean floor are vast.
The impossible logistical challenges and a host of ethical considerations suggest that the Titanic will forever remain where it sank on that fateful night in 1912.
As technology advances, we may find new ways to explore and learn from this poignant historical site without disturbing its rest. But, as to the question of whether the Titanic will ever be raised – the consensus, as it stands today, is a resounding ‘no’.
The Titanic, it seems, is destined to remain an emblem of human ambition and tragic loss, silently holding court at the bottom of the ocean.
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