New Footage Of Titanic Wreckage From 1986 Dive Released

"There were no human flesh or bones left, but he saw shoes"

FALMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — The sheer size of the vessel and the shoes were what struck Robert Ballard when he descended to the wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1986, the year after he and his crew from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution helped find the ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912.

“I never looked down at the Titanic. I looked up at the Titanic. Nothing was small,” he said.

There were no human flesh or bones left, but he saw shoes, including the footwear of what appeared to be a mother and a baby, that looked like tombstones marking the spot where some of the roughly 1,500 people who perished came to rest on the ocean floor.

“After the Titanic sank, those that went into the water that didn’t have lifejackets died of hypothermia and their bodies came raining down,” he said.

There had been prior efforts to find the wreck. But the 1985 discovery and the 1986 trip were made possible by sophisticated underwater vehicles that could withstand the unforgiving conditions, said WHOI engineer Andy Bowen, who helped develop them.

“The water is near freezing temperatures and probably the biggest challenge is the remoteness of the location, and in particular the harsh environment with regard to the pressure our equipment is exposed to,” he said.

The story of the Titanic fascinates people to this day for many reasons, Ballard said. It was at the time the world’s largest ocean liner and was supposed to be virtually unsinkable. Its passengers included some of the world’s most wealthy and famous. And in the aftermath, the world heard remarkable stories of heroism and bravery by the crew and passengers.