An exhausted group of scientists suspended their survey of the remains of the Titanic today after finding the hull in such good condition that their leader called it “a museum piece.”
The wreck of the massive ocean liner, which has been the object of numerous searches, was found in 13,120 feet of water by a French-American expedition about 370 miles off the Canadian province of Newfoundland, the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea said Monday in Paris. (Story, Page 5.)
Shelley Lauzon, spokeswoman for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which participated in the expedition, said today that chief scientist Robert Ballard told her in a ship-to-shore phone call from the Navy research vessel Knorr that the Titanic is in such good condition that it appears to be a “museum piece.”
She said the ship was found “in an upright position and in near-perfect shape.”
Lauzon quoted Ballard as saying any attempts to salvage the wreck would be ridiculous. The French-U.S. team has proposed making a marine memorial site of the Titanic.
‘At a Tremendous Depth’
She also said retrieving the estimated $300 million in jewels and other valuables thought to have gone down with the ship would be impossible.
“It’s at a tremendous depth, and we wouldn’t want to endanger the lives of people,” she said in a telephone interview from Woods Hole, on Cape Cod. “It would have to be done with remotely operated vehicles, and we have no plans to do that.”
The National Geographic Society also took part in the project.
The Titanic was the biggest, the most luxurious and supposedly the safest liner of its time, and its passenger list carried such names as American financier John Jacob Astor, industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim and Isidor Straus of Macy’s. All three were lost.
The owners had claimed that the Titanic, the largest ship afloat when it was launched from Southampton, England, was unsinkable because its double-steel hull was divided into 15 waterproof compartments.
But it hit an iceberg that cut a 300-foot gash across several of the compartments and sank on the night of April 14-15, 1912. A total of 1,513 people died, but about 700 managed to get to lifeboats and were saved.
A survivor who was 7 years old and who lost her father when the Titanic went down said the hulk should not be retrieved.
“I say it should be left because it’s my father’s grave,” said Eva Hart of London, interviewed on the CBS Morning News. “But if it’s going to aid science tremendously or prove how clever we are by raising the Titanic, then nothing I say will stop them from doing it.”
“I only have the personal feeling of a woman whose whole life was altered, and whose father was drowned that night when he needn’t have been if there’d been enough lifeboats, and for that reason I think it should be left where it is.”