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The Rock-itt : April 2012
surface. Eventually the weight of the exposed stern became too heavy and the Titanic snapped in two amidships where her expansion joint was located, sending both bow and stern plummeting down separately two and a half miles, through the freezing cold emerald green depths to her final resting place on the dark bed of the ocean. Here she lay for over seven decades hidden away in her watery grave at such a depth that she became inaccessible to the world above which had created her. In the period following the loss of the mighty liner, artists, authors, film makers as well as the ordinary man and woman on the street became fascinated by the enigmatic ghost which seem ed to send imaginary visions from her abyss far below the ocean’s waves. In the 50s the first black and white film created by the dream factories of Hollywood was shown on the silver screen depicting the start of Titanic’s voyage, through to the sinking, and the world sat back in awe as to how it must have been on that fateful night. I saw the film as a young boy and from that dimly lit picture theatre, I, like millions of others throughout the world, became intrigued by the birth and death of Titanic, yet I never in my wildest dreams could ever comprehend that my eyes would ever see her other than on a movie screen in a made up film version from Hollywood. But if Titanic remained at the bottom of the north Atlantic ocean, frozen in tim e, technology above the surface was still evolving and as new ways of locating wrecks became more advanced, tim e was moving toward the eventual discovery of the relic of one of the greatest shipping tragedies of the twentieth century. In 1985, an oceanographer by the name of Robert Ballard led an expedition to the North Atlantic Ocean in an effort to locate Titanic. After painstakingly searching the ocean bed in the vicinity where Titanic had been recorded as going down, they found the m onolithic relic. Here miles below their research ship, with the aid of depth scanners and deep sea cameras, they could make out a gigantic manmade object which could only be one thing.....the wreck of Titanic. Titanic’s location was documented but kept secret for almost a year until Ballard could organise a return to the site, equipped with the hardware which would allow the team to actually go down to the wreck site and explore first hand rather than just surveying the area with under water cameras. So in July 1986 Ballard and two members of his team crammed into a tiny submersible and descended two and a half miles to the ocean floor where they found hidden in darkness, rusting away and shrouded in marine growth the mighty Titanic. One can only imagine the thrill and wonderment which must have struck the three explorers as their eyes ran over the gigantic hulk of the once magnificent vessel. Here she was, a shadow of her former glory which had slid down the slipway in Belfast amid cheers and fanfare all those years ago, she no longer showed those sleek magnificent lines as her hull had begun to buckle under her rusting weight and the four striking slanted funnels which made her silhouette so distinguishable had vanished in her undisturbed slumber. Here she was before the eyes of man stripped of her dignity by time, a wreck which nature had ravaged and had reduced the best man could build to a rusting hulk of twisted steel which would never again see the light of day. All of what I have written here has been well documented and filmed which we have seen many times on documentary programs or in geographical magazines. Although it’s been twenty six years since her discovery, it is amazing how the world still shows immense interest in something which happened one hundred years ago. There have been suggestions of building Titanic 11 and this time the maiden voyage would be assured of being completed, allowing the Titanic to finally rust in peace. There has also been strong opposition about removing any part or artefacts from the wreck site which some believe should be left intact and undisturbed as a show of respect for those who went down with the ship. Yet man and woman kind alike have always needed som ething tangible to satisfy his and her emotions and if possibly something could be salvaged to create a link with the deceased and the living, I think this would be a fair way of solving the mystique and at the same time add closure to the story of Titanic. A m emorial to symbolise man’s achievements of yesteryear would be something which would keep Titanic’s memory alive for generations to come and be a part of the Titanic which could be touched or felt. It could be another thing which would please most of us, yet would allow closure wouldn’t you agree? How about the foremost part of the bow rail where Leonardo DiCaprio held Kate Winslet in the wonderful film “Titanic” made by James Cameron and which became the biggest grossing film in entertainment history. Imagine the actual bow rail from Titanic fastened to a model bow of Titanic, how many young couples would want to get married at that site, the mind boggles. But if this is to happen it will have to be soon before all is lost to corrosion. Well on a Saturday night in April I’m getting together with some good friends for a Titanic dinner party and to toast the old lady herself. We will celebrate in style as if we were in the dining room of Titanic herself and shall toast to one hundred years of Titanic history. Why not do the same, after all it’s her birthday and she turns 100 hundred years old and she certainly deserves a good cheer.