British passenger liner, supposedly unsinkable, that struck an iceberg and sank off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland on its first voyage on 14–15 April 1912; estimates of the number of lives lost, largely due to inadequate provision of lifeboats, vary between 1,503 and 1,517. In 1985 it was located by robot submarine 4 km/2.5 mi down in an ocean canyon, preserved by the cold environment, and in 1987 salvage operations began.
In August 1996 salvage divers eased a 15-tonne section of the liner's steel hull away from the sea floor and raised it more than 2 mi/3.2 km from the seabed using flotation balloons. The high-tech expedition appeared to be on the verge of success when the balloons lost pressure and the liner returned to the ocean floor. By 1996, the cost of the project to raise the wreck stood at $5 million/£3.3 million.
The results of the first ultrasonic scan of the front of the Titanic, much of which is buried in mud, showed that a series of six short slits was the only damage inflicted on the ship by the iceberg, and not, as has always been thought, a gaping 91 m/300 ft gash. The total area of openings was found to be only about 1.1 or 1.2 sq m/12 or 13 sq ft. The unexpected discovery, which emerged from an expedition to the seabed by a team of scientists and engineers in August 1996, will force a re-writing of the countless histories of the disaster. Although small, the gaps would have been roughly 6 m/20 ft below the water line. The high pressure would have forced the ocean through the holes fast enough to flood the ship with about 39,000 tonnes of water before it finally went down.
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