The company, which has exclusive salvage rights to the Titanic wreck and ship’s artifacts, filed a map of the surrounding seabed in federal court Saturday showing where researchers found the twisted remains of the Titanic submersible.
The map, a mosaic of sonar images annotated by experts at the company RMS Titanic Inc., helps show how close the ship was to its intended destination when the disaster struck.
The craft most likely imploded on Sunday morning, June 18, killing all five crew members. The RMS Titanic Director of Underwater Research attended the tourist submersible’s final dive as a guest of OceanGate, the Titanic’s owner.
The seabed map, on display in a legal filing, shows the ghostly outline of Titanic’s bow section. It’s one of the wreck’s most famous features, as depth explorers have found over the decades that the bow and forward railings are in relatively good condition, standing upright and almost proud in the inky darkness.
In an interview, Brian A. Wainger, an attorney for salvage company RMS Titanic Inc., said the map is based on private and public information available to the company. He added that he shared the seafloor map with the United States Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and that none of the federal agencies had raised concerns about the accuracy of the depiction.
“In our opinion, these are reliable data,” said Mr. Wainger.
In his July 8 court filing, Mr. Wainger also indicated that the Marine Board of Investigation, the branch of the Coast Guard investigating the disaster, will complete its detective work in about 12 to 18 months and then hold a public hearing at which Witness testimony will be affidavit.
The story of the Titanic is well known. After hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, the luxury liner broke in two and crashed more than two miles through the North Atlantic to its icy bottom.
The wreck of the Titanic was located in 1985 and in 1994 the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Virginia granted RMS Titanic salvage rights. As a designated salvor, defined as a person or group involved in the salvage of a ship or property lost at sea, the RMS Titanic is under the supervision of the Court, which has long overseen cases of shipwreck salvage.
The Atlanta-based company uses its salvage activities for a number of purposes, including setting up traveling exhibits featuring Titanic artifacts.
The chart in the company’s files shows a large dotted circle labeled “Titan Debris Field” in an area to the right or starboard of Titanic’s intact bow area. The map gives no other details, such as the size of the field. However, the map gives the location as approximate. When the Coast Guard announced on June 22 that the submersible Titan had suffered a catastrophic implosion, it said the debris field was about 1,600 feet from Titanic’s bow.
Jessica Sanders, President of RMS Titanic, said the seabed map has been included in the legal filing as part of the company’s commitment to telling the court of its activities and, in this case, how things have been at Titanic over the past few hours and hours. Investigation cooperated to update days after the submersible disappeared.
“We tried to help,” she said in an interview. “We gave them this map” so that investigators could better understand the features of the seabed surrounding the Titanic, giving them a better chance of separating information about rocks and natural outcrops from possible evidence of the ship itself or its remains.
Ms Sanders said the map was developed in part by her collaborator who died in the Titanic disaster – Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, a French diving expert and a global authority on Titanic, who was attempting to make his 38th dive to make the rubble. “So part of it was his,” she said, referring to the map. She added that a memorial service for Mr Nargeolet would be held in Paris next week.
Rob McCallum, founder of EYOS Expeditions, who has led seven voyages to the sunken liner, said the map contained no unexpected features or clues. “Nothing unusual stands out,” he said in an interview. The Titan submersible wreck, he added, “is essentially where it should be.”