First Titanic expedition in nearly 15 years uncovers ‘partial collapse of hull’
New pictures have uncovered the state of the wreck of RMS Titanic, more than a century after she foundered.
Making the first manned voyage to the Olympic-class liner in almost 15 years, explorers uncovered a partial collapse of the ship's hull.
The "unsinkable" Belfast-built trans-Atlantic liner became infamous after hitting a iceberg, just five days into her maiden voyage.
Since the early hours of April 15, 1912, she has led almost 4,000m below the surface of the ocean around 370 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada.
Salt corrosion and metal-eating bacteria have gradually broken up her remains, exposing the ship's interiors to the open ocean.
The latest expedition found the hull, near the officers' quarters on her starboard side, has started to collapse.
The inevitable damage means her luxurious stateroom accommodation has now all but vanished into the depths of the ocean.
Exploration company Caladan Oceanic visited the vessel, to record the first 4K images and map it for augmented reality.
Park Stephenson, a historian focusing on the vessel, joined the expedition.
He called the deterioration of the ship "shocking".
"That whole deck hole on one side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue," he continued.
"The Captain’s bath tub is a favourite image among the Titanic enthusiasts - and that’s now gone."
Explorer Victor Vescovo said he "wasn’t quite prepared" for how large the wreckage is.
He added: "It was extraordinary to see it all, and the most amazing moment came when I was going along the side of the Titanic and the bright lights of the submersible reflected off a portal and came right back – it was like the ship was winking at me.
"It was amazing."
A total of five dives to the wreck, which lies around 370 miles (596km) south of Newfoundland in Canada, were made over eight days using a submergence vehicle.
What happened to the RMS Titanic and what has happened to it since?
The Titanic was launched from Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard in 1911 after three years of planning and construction.
Her hull was the 401st produced at the Northern Ireland dockyard.
Along with her two sister ships, RMS Titanic presented a challenge for her builders - being the biggest vessel ever built.
The ship, remarked as unsinkable, wasn't launched until the following year.
She set sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912, stopping off at Cherbourg in France and then Corktown in Ireland, en route to New York.
Ahead of her maiden voyage, a fire had broken out in one of her coal bunkers - although passengers were unaware of this - speculation has spiraled as to whether this may have weakened her hull.
On the evening of April 14, 1912, RMS Titanic was passing through an exceptionally cold front of weather.
Shortly before midnight, a member of the crew notified of an iceberg ahead of the ship - but it was too late to avoid and her fate was sealed.
Two hours and 40 minutes later, she was fully submerged.
Whilst 710 people survived the disaster, more than 1,500 perished.