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The Titanic sank in 1912, but the shipwreck wasn't found until 1985. Why?


Did we simply not know where it was? Or did we lack the technology to seek it out?

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The technology wasn't there to get down that deep in the sea, in 1985 they created this underwater camera system to find Titanic, couldn't find it until they found debris and then a boiler and then the bow.

They knew it sank around the last known coordinates but didn't know exactly.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ballard
"Robert Duane Ballard (born June 30, 1942) is a retired American Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who is most noted for his work in underwater archaeology: maritime archaeology and archaeology of shipwrecks. He is most known for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989, and the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998. He discovered the wreck of John F. Kennedy's PT-109 in 2002 and visited Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, who saved its crew. He leads ocean exploration on E/V Nautilus."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_(ROV)
"Argo is an unmanned deep-towed undersea video camera sled developed by Dr. Robert Ballard through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute's Deep Submergence Laboratory. Argo is most famous for its role in the discovery of the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1985. Argo would also play the key role in Ballard's discovery of the wreck of the battleship Bismarck in 1989."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ballard#RMS_Titanic
"After their missions for the Navy, Knorr arrived on site on August 22, 1985,[9] and deployed Argo. When they searched for the two submarines, Ballard and his team discovered that they had imploded from the immense pressure at depth.[10] It littered thousands of pieces of debris all over the ocean floor.[10] Following the large trail of debris led them directly to both[10] and made it significantly easier for them to locate them than if they were to search for the hulls directly.[10] He already knew that the Titanic imploded from pressure as well, much the same way the two submarines did, and concluded that it too must have also left a scattered debris trail.[10] Using that lesson, they had Argo sweep back and forth across the ocean floor looking for the Titanic's debris trail.[9] They took shifts monitoring the video feed from Argo as it searched the ocean floor two miles below."

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Keep in mind these things:

1 - We didn't have satellites launched until the 1960s, and we didn't start using GPS technology to accurately map the earth, as well as the ocean floor wasn't invented until the 1970s.

2 - Submersibles, smaller subs that could stand the high water pressure, weren't invented until the late 70s. Before then, all we had were ordinary submarines left over from WWII and the Cold War that would get crushed if they went deeper than 600 feet below the surface, whereas Titanic was under two solid miles of cold water!

3 - Camera technology was slowly getting better over time, but it wasn't until the 80s they found a way for them to operate safely underwater.

4 - From what I read of Bob Ballard's expedition to find Titanic, he ran into several problems, most of which involved the ship not quite landing exactly beneath where it sank, debris drift, Titanic splitting in half, darkness, uneven ocean terrain, and only being able to spend so much time down there before it got freezing cold in the sub and leaks started to appear. It wasn't until he found a displaced boiler lying on the ocean floor, that he knew he was close.

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I do recall hearing that the wreck wasn't quite where it was expected to be, presumably ocean currents had shifted its direction during its long fall to the bottom. And I doubt much is known about what the deep ocean currents of the Atlantic Ocean are up to, as they don't effect much that's commercially valuable there's little push for research on that front.

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Also, keep in mind that in 1912, radios weren't manned as efficiently, and sextants were barely used at all after dark (this are two of the many problems the Titanic actually had). We didn't have an accurate location of exactly where she sunk, because a ship's navigator would usually take a final reading of their location at sundown, then another one in the morning. So when we see Captain Smith in the radio room, handing the message to Jack Phillips, the coordinates he writes down are pretty much him guessing how far they had come in the previous four hours (sunset at that latitude in mid-April is around 8pm).

The Carpathia would have taken a reading the next morning, but given how far apart the the lifeboats were from each other, and that they had been told to row away from the ship, we don't know how exact it might have been in relation to the Titanic's final position.

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You are very much correct in how inefficient the navigation tech was they had back then. It's strange, but some of the worst weather for dealing with icebergs was what they had that night; cold, clear, and dark; with a waning crescent moon, according to this calculator: https://www.yourmoonphase.com/collections/waning-crescent-ii-moon

The weather that night made it more difficult for the guys up in the crow's nest to sight the iceberg before it was too late, not to mention they didn't have very good telescopes back then.

One of the cruelest ironies about that disaster was, there was another ship just an hour away called the Californian whose operator had gotten annoyed with someone over the waves and shut off the radio in disgust. Even worse, the people on the Californian actually SAW the fireworks and flares Titanic was giving off, and had no idea what they were looking at! They could have rescued the people on that ship, but because the radio had been turned off for the night, nobody heard Titanic's radio cries for help!

It is because of this, that it is now standard procedure for ships to keep their radios on 24 hours a day, with someone manning them at all times.

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It's like asking, "Why haven't I found that needle in the haystack? I even know the exact spot where the needle got tossed in."

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I was hiding because it didn't want to be found. But then it got hungry and changed its mind.

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I was a bit disappointed when they found it. There was something romantic about it being undiscovered.

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Oceans be like that

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