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Carl Spencer's Titanic diary June 2003
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Tuesday 24th June 2003

At 6:00 we arrived on the Titanic wreck site. It was pretty eerie, maybe because of all the hype that surrounds the wreck and the amount of talk about it's historical significance and iconic status….. It's strange I've never felt like that about a wreck before or thought too much about the people that died on any wreck, but you've seen the Images in the movie and it's strange that the events depicted happened right here……pretty weird
From 8:00, 4no. Transponders were deployed from the Keldysh around the wreck site. Their location is not really important as they are used as navigational beacons for the MIR's and Keldysh for fixing positions on the wreck. Once deployed they were calibrated to the MIR surface support equipment aboard Keldysh

Carl Spencer from England
Carl Spencer from England joined the 2003 expedition pictured here inside MIR 2
Dive 1 would be:

MIR 1: Anatoly Sagalevitch
Larry Daily
Rich Robles

MIR 2: Genya Chernyaev
Carl Spencer
Kevin Gurr

MIR 2 is launched

MIR 1enters the water
June 2003
Kevin Gurr inside MIR 2
Kevin Gurr who would partner Carl Spencer on the dive

Our objectives would be to inspect the fore mast, 1st class cargo hold (hatch no.2) and 1st class mailroom hatch on the foredeck area for signs of damage/intrusion from the previous years RMS Titanic planned salvage operations. As the mast does/did fall across hatch no2 and the 1st class mail hatch it would have to have been moved to gain access for ROV salvage ops and as the mast is in such a poor state of decay, irreparable damage would occur.
It was suggested by a member of the group that RMST had a plan to salvage artefacts from the wreck, including in the First Class cargo, a Gladstone leather bag which was reported to caring gold coins, worth about US$75,000.00 at the time of the sinking. A similar bag had been retrieved in 1989 by RMST and was now in the traveling artefact collection. In the mailroom, it had been reported that a jeweller had mailed diamonds worth US$250M in regular uninsured mail aboard Titanic, although there is no record of this or listed on the manifest this method of moving valuable items had previously been used by a British Jeweller who discreetly transported the Hope Diamond this way so as not to draw attention to the fact that he had the world's most precious diamond on his person. There was also talk of trying to recover the Renault car in the 1st Class cargo hold. We were also had to check Explorers plaque laid by Dr Bob Ballard in 1986 was still in position. Again it was suggested by a member of the Expedition that rival groups had previously removed or turned over the Explorers Club plaque as some sort of disrespectful gesture. The plaque is located on the forward starboard capstan. If this had been removed or relocated, we were tasked to put it back.

We were also tasked with removing old fibre optic lines from the wreck which were left by the 'Ghosts of the Abyss' 3D Imax movie from the ROV's. Kevin and I also wanted to get to the stern section to checkout the reciprocating engines as this is a major goal of our Britannic 2003 Expedition.
Wednesday 25th June 2003

Dive day ! Keldysh Expedition to Titanic no.8

8:00am it's a pre-briefing in the MIR lab and sign the dive book/log then it's a light breakfast and 1 hour before launch.

I could barley contain my excitement at the thought of diving the MIR's. A few years ago this technology would not have been available to the West let alone an air conditioning engineer from Staffordshire!
So here I am about to dive the most famous ocean liner in history in the most highly advanced submersibles ever built !
MIR 1 was launched at 9:30
Focus was then switched to MIR 2. I donned my fireproof MIR flight suit and had the obligatory photographs taken of the crew from the front of MIR 2 then we followed Genya on board, waving to crew and colleagues, before entering MIR 2, (shoeless). We were extremely lucky in MIR 2, Genya is considered the best submersible pilot in Russia and his skills later in the dive proved it. The hatch was secured and we were ready for launch. The first thing that struck me was the silence, we could see the activity aboard Keldysh during the launch, but there was absolutely no sound at all.

The descent was as follows:

10.05 MIR 2 was launched from Keldysh
10:13 Mir 2 left the surface of the North Atlantic
@ 93mtrs it was completely dark and - 3.9º C
@ 800mtrs phosphorescent life and plankton streaming past the view ports - 4.2º C
10:52 MIR 2 @ 1,000mtrs
11:10 MIR 2 @ 1,580mtrs - check forward facing sonar
11:25 MIR 2 @ 2,000mtrs - 3.17º C
11:45 MIR 2 @ 2,600mtrs, activates bottom echo sounder for final stage of decent
12:29 MIR 2 Touchdown @ 3,785mtr (12,500ft or 2½ miles) - 2.17º C
One of the highlights of the dive was the countdown off the echo sounder from 20mtrs off the ocean floor to hitting bottom, it was like the surface of the moon. After a 2½ hour descent it was pretty cool to come up on the seabed

At the bottom, we had drifted off the bow almost 1,500mtrs in the ocean currents. We had been able to track our descent and relative position to the 4no. Transponders and GPS co-ordinates relayed from Keldysh all the way down to the sea bed, so Genya knew exactly where we were at all times during the decent and where Titanic lay.

We headed off on a bearing of 315º NW, straight for the bow. At 13:02 we sighted the bow pointing off to the NE!

It absolutely took my breath away, it was huge - now I know what the Britannic divers have been raving about all these years. Titanic towered above the seabed, even though the bow had ploughed almost 60ft into the seabed. The scale of the ship, anchor chains etc... was enormous. We worked our way around the bow checking for any possible signs of 'man-made' intrusion or damage, although we saw non, Genya immediately spotted the mast had fallen onto the decks at a heavy angle due to bacterial decay over the last 90 years.

14:45 We deployed Dr Roy Cullimore's & Lori Johnson's experiments at the base of the foremast. The experiments were bacterial slide films which indicate microbe 'burrowing' into the actual slide, producing brightly coloured and elaborate patterns. They do have scientific value in that they track the path of bacterial colonies as they consume there way through materials.

click to enlarge
Titanic from MIR II
We continued around the Bow, looking at all of the key features such as the sole lifeboat davit on the portside used to launch lifeboat no.1 and collapsible no.4. We looked at Captain Smith's quarters behind the bridge on starboard side. The wall to his cabin is so decayed, you can see right into his bath tub and bright brass/copper pipework and plumbing.
The telemotor stands alone on the bridge surrounded by plaques laid by previous US, French, Canadian and Russian expeditions. They seem to have lost their significance now there are so many 'dedications to lost souls'The remaining time spent on the bow was spent removing fibre-optics from the 2001 'Ghosts' Expedition. By the end of our time on the bow, we'd removed over 300mtrs of fibre-optic from Earthship's ROV's - Jake & Elwood.
17:28 We left the bow for the stern some 600mtrs off to the SW. During the decent to stern had turned through 180º and was facing stern to the bow.

18:04 We were on the stern debris field and finally the stern section. It's a real mess, the stern must have hit the seabed at a massive speed because the walls of the hull have just splayed out all over the seabed and the decks have collapsed on top of each other, it's quite a sight. The only intact piece of the stern is the massive counter stern right over the rudder, it's pretty impressive.
Time was starting to tick away, we'd spent over 5 hours on the bottom at this point band we still had our own objectives, the reciprocating engines to examine. Genya moved MIR 2 SW across the collapsed decks towards the exposed engines at the point of the break in the hull. The first impression was the shear size of the engines, 999 metric tonnes each, they were bigger than I imagined. Kevin and I theorised how we could tackle the exploration of these massive engines deep in the hull of Britannic. There was also a lot of fibre-optic to clear from around the engines, which we did within the limited time left on the dive

19:14 We left the bottom and headed for the surface. On the ascent we talked about the dive and the condition of the wreck. The ascent also gave us time to have a bite to eat, we were all really hungry since we hadn't eaten for some 11 hours previous.

21:29 We broke surface and was towed back to Keldysh by the tender Koresh before being hoisted aboard Keldysh and signing off MIR 2 at 21:51

That night we all went up to the 7th floor Conference room to discuss the dive and share our experience with the group. It was pretty cool, I'd just dived Titanic and now we were discussing our dive and reviewing video footage on TV - it was pretty surreal

©Carl Spencer for DeepImage 2003
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