1 would be:
MIR 1: Anatoly Sagalevitch
MIR 2: Genya
MIR 1enters the water
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
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.