First Titanic expedition in 14 years uncovers ‘partial collapse of hull’

Explorers making the first manned voyage to the Titanic wreckage in 14 years said they have uncovered a partial collapse of the ship's hull.

Nearly 13,125ft (4,000m) beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, salt corrosion and metal-eating bacteria have worn away parts of the liner's structure.

The team of divers found that the hull near the officers' quarters on the starboard side of the ship has started to collapse, taking with it the vessel's luxurious stateroom accommodation, according to exploration company Caladan Oceanic.

Harland and Wolff shipyard in administration
The team of explorers completed the first manned expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic in 14 years (PA)

Titanic historian Park Stephenson said the deterioration of the ship is "shocking", adding: "That whole deck hole on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing.

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16th April 1912: Front page of The New York Times newspaper with headlines announcing the sinking of the 'Titanic' ocean liner, dated Tuesday. (Photo by Blank Archives/Getty Images)
The maiden voyage of the Titanic 1912 - Titanic disaster - lifeboat with Titanic survivors approach the liner RMS Carpathia. 15. April 1912. Carl Simon Archive. (Photo by: Carl Simon/United Archives/UIG via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) The sinking of the 'Titanic' during the night of April 14th to 15th, 1912.Painting by Willy Stoewer. Also available in color: Image Number 611440 (Photo by Willy Stöwer/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
The White Star Line passenger liner R.M.S. Titanic embarking on its ill-fated maiden voyage.
Features which Contributed to the Splendours of the Titanic', April 20, 1912. A single-berth state room, a deck state room, the swimming pool, the Turkish Bath Cooling Room, the Verandah Cafe, the main staircase, the Georgian Smoke Room and the restaurant. The luxurious interior decoration included French walnut panelling, mother-of-pearl inlay and climbing plants. The White Star Line ship RMS 'Titanic' struck an iceberg in thick fog off Newfoundland on 14 April 1912. She was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of her time, and thought to be unsinkable. In the collision, five of her watertight compartments were compromised and she sank. Out of the 2228 people on board, only 705 survived. A major cause of the loss of life was the insufficient number of lifeboats she carried. Page 6, from 'Titanic In Memoriam Number', a special supplement in 'The Daily Graphic' newspaper issued following the sinking of the 'Titanic' on 15 April 1912, published on 20 April 1912. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)
Sectional diagram of the 'Titanic', and iceberg, April 20, 1912. 'The Greatest of All Ships and the Greatest of All Shipping Disasters. The Titanic and the Perils of the Atlantic': sectional diagram of the 'Titanic', showing the state rooms, cabins, cargo holds and engine rooms, and illustrations of icebergs, one with silhouette of St Paul's Cathedral for scale. The White Star Line ship RMS 'Titanic' struck an iceberg in thick fog off Newfoundland on 14 April 1912. She was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of her time, and thought to be unsinkable. In the collision, five of her watertight compartments were compromised and she sank. Out of the 2228 people on board, only 705 survived. A major cause of the loss of life was the insufficient number of lifeboats she carried. Pages 10-11, from 'Titanic In Memoriam Number', a special supplement in 'The Daily Graphic' newspaper issued following the sinking of the 'Titanic' on 15 April 1912, published on 20 April 1912. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)
Her First and Last Voyage: the Titanic Passing up the Solent on Wednesday, April 10th on her Departure from Southampton', (April 20), 1912. The ship on her maiden, and last, voyage. The White Star Line ship RMS 'Titanic' struck an iceberg in thick fog off Newfoundland on 14 April 1912. She was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of her time, and thought to be unsinkable. In the collision, five of her watertight compartments were compromised and she sank. Out of the 2228 people on board, only 705 survived. A major cause of the loss of life was the insufficient number of lifeboats she carried. Page 7, from 'Titanic In Memoriam Number', a special supplement in 'The Daily Graphic' newspaper issued following the sinking of the 'Titanic' on 15 April 1912, published on 20 April 1912. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)
A photograph c1912 of the 'unsinkable' four-funnelled ship the RMS Titanic. Part of the White Star Line, Titanic sank off Newfoundland on her maiden voyage to the USA after striking an iceberg (14-15/4/1912). 1513 people lost their lives. *02/04/02The SS Titanic. The City of Belfast will pay tribute to the man who designed its most famous ship, the Titanic, Tuesday April 02, 2002. Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers will unveil a plaque at the former home of Thomas Andrews, 90 years to the day that the ship left Belfast for Southampton to begin its ill-fated maiden voyage. Commissioned by the Ulster History Circle, the plaque will be unveiled at the house now occupied by the Irish Football Association at Windsor Avenue in south Belfast. A series of events have been taking place in Belfast as part of a festival to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic. 02/12/03: A manuscript which describes the final hours of the Titanic by the most senior officer to survive the sinking was today, being auctioned at Sotheby's New Bond Street sale rooms in London. The 17-page unpublished document by Charles Lightoller, the vessel's Second Officer, was going under the hammer with other memorabilia relating to the famous ship. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
View from the 'Carpathia' of a lifeboat from the 'Titanic' brought alongside, 15 April, 1912. Operated by the White Star Line, RMS 'Titanic' was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of her time, and thought to be unsinkable. During her maiden voyage, bound for New York, she struck an iceberg in thick fog off Newfoundland on 14 April 1912. In the collision five of her watertight compartments were compromised and she sank. Out of the 2228 people on board, only 705 survived. A major cause of the loss of life was the insufficient number of lifeboats she carried. The RMS 'Carpathia' responded to the 'Titanic''s distress call and arrived at the scene of the sinking around four hours later. Artist Unknown. (Photo by Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Crowd outside offices of the white Star steamship line awaiting news regarding the sinking of the Titanic. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Iceberg With Which Rms Titanic Of The White Star Line Collided And Caused Her To Sink. Photographed Near The Scene Of The Wreck By A Passenger On The Rescue Ship Carpathia. Source: Sinking Of The Titanic Edited By Thomas H. Russell, Published 1912. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
View of the US Senate inquiry into the RMS Titanic sinking, 1912. The hearings took place in New York and Washington between April 19 and May 25. (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: The Olympic was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast and was the largest vessel in the world at the time. Older sister of the �Titanic�, the Olympic was launched on 20 October, 1910 and served as a reliable member of the White Star fleet until she was scrapped in 1935 after striking and sinking the famous Nantucket lightship off the eastern coast of the United States. Illustration from �The White Star triple-screw Atlantic liners �Olympic� and �Titanic�, 45,000 tons : the largest steamships in the world�, published in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1911. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: The largest vessel in the world at the time and older sister of the Titanic, Olympic was launched on 20 October, 1910 until she was scrapped in 1935 after striking and sinking the famous Nantucket lightship off the eastern coast of the United States. Illustration from �The White Star triple-screw Atlantic liners �Olympic� and �Titanic�, 45,000 tons : the largest steamships in the world�, published in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1911. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: The largest vessel in the world at the time and older sister of the Titanic, Olympic was launched on 20 October, 1910 until she was scrapped in 1935 after striking and sinking the famous Nantucket lightship off the eastern coast of the United States. Illustration from ?The White Star triple-screw Atlantic liners ?Olympic? and ?Titanic?, 45,000 tons : the largest steamships in the world?, published in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1911. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: View of the main staircase and entrance hall on the promenade deck. The largest vessel in the world at the time and older sister of the Titanic, Olympic was launched on 20 October, 1910 until she was scrapped in 1935 after striking and sinking the famous Nantucket lightship off the eastern coast of the United States. Illustration from �The White Star triple-screw Atlantic liners �Olympic� and �Titanic�, 45,000 tons : the largest steamships in the world�, published in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1911. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
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"Captain's bath tub is a favourite image among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that's now gone."

The first ever 4K quality images of the ship were captured during the expedition and will be published alongside a documentary, which is being made by film company Atlantic Productions.

The footage will also make it possible to view the wreckage using interactive augmented reality and virtual reality technology.

RMS Titanic expedition
Natural processes have caused parts of the hull to start to collapse (Atlantic Productions/PA)

Explorer Victor Vescovo, who is also chief executive of Caladan Oceanic, 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."

The Titanic is "going to continue to deteriorate over time" as part of a natural process, according to scientist Lori Johnson, who added that bacteria is acting like "a community working symbiotically to eat" the wreckage.

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.

The Titanic, built by Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard, sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 people.

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