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Tapes Show Several Safes From Titanic

From Times Wire Services

Videotapes of the Titanic released Friday evening showed parts of the luxury liner sheathed in icicles of iron and an encrusted crystal chandelier hanging slightly askew inside the fabled wreck.

Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, co-sponsor of the Titanic expedition, also said they had found several safes from the wreck, which rests more than two miles beneath the surface of the sea.

“It’s been transformed into another ship,” expedition leader Robert Ballard said. “It has the vestiges of the Titanic, but it’s now a ship of the deep.”

Robot Shoots Videotape

Ballard narrated part of the videotape shot by a remote-controlled robot, describing the underwater views of a porthole, rust-covered bow and promenade.

“Coming up the side of the ship you can see these iron-sicles that hang down like giant icicles of rust,” he said. “I can see the promenade, looking into the promenade windows, and rising up to the deck above, and overhead a lifeboat davit with its block as we disturb these rust-sicles and they fall down like a rain of iron.”

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Officials at Woods Hole also showed reporters 12 color slides taken by the researchers, including one looking down the opening of the ship’s grand staircase.

Other slides, which, like the videotape, are crisp in clarity, showed the hull of the Titanic buried in sand with a lone porthole above the seabed; a shot of where the stern was ripped from the front of the ship; the ship’s surface caked with layers of rust, and an anchor and chain that appeared to be hanging from the side of the ship.

The researchers said they had seen enough of the sunken luxury liner to conclude they would find no remains of the 1,513 victims.

‘Like Going to a Museum’

“It’s almost like going to a museum. If we were ever going to see any human remains, we would have seen them,” Ballard said.

But he told institution officials that he spotted a sock in the debris scattered near the ship, the only sign of the people swept to their deaths when the giant liner struck an iceberg in April, 1912.

Ballard and two crew members in a submersible craft 450 miles off Newfoundland on Friday viewed the debris left when the ship struck bottom and the stern broke into pieces 74 years ago.

The stern was “just a tremendous twisted pile of wreckage,” Ballard said.

One of the safes found “had a big handle, bronze or gold . . . and some British crest,” Ballard said. “They (the handles) were polished clean. We went over to one with a big handle but it didn’t open.”

Crew Finds Bottles

Ballard said the crew members discovered other artifacts, including Champagne bottles that apparently were being readied for a toast when the iceberg tore a hole in the Titanic’s hull.

“The Champagne bottles, by the way, still have their corks in them,” he said.

“I’m very convinced now that no attempt would ever be made to try to salvage the ship itself,” Ballard said. “It’s buried deep into the bottom. The bow section is 30 to 40 feet into the bottom all the way up to the base of the anchors.”

The pictures and videotape were flown from the Atlantis 2, mother ship for the researchers. The delivery cost was shared by a media pool that included the three major television networks.

Researchers had hoped to look Thursday at the spot where the ship broke apart, but their work was hampered by strong currents that prevented the camera-equipped robot, Jason Jr., which operates on a tether from the submarine, from getting close to the site.

By Thursday, before the start of hurricane season in the region, researchers will wrap up the venture and make the four-day return trip to Woods Hole. A news conference is planned July 28 at National Geographic headquarters in Washington to release the remainder of the pictures and videotapes.


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