Interview with Violet Jessop - Titanic/Britannic survivor

Audio courtesy of Jake Billingham/Titanic Connections. Recorded by John Maxtone Graham

Meet the Archive Project Team - Interview hosted by Titanic Connections November 26th, 2020

Spencer Littrel and Matthew Smathers were interviewed by Titanic Connections in late November of 2020. This interview covers many frequently asked questions about our project, talks about our future plans, and gives insight into how our organization works.

Interview with David Concannon - 2003 Expedition Crew Member

Q: I'd like to ask about this video. Around the 26 minute mark in this clip, it seems like the submersible collides with the wreck near the hull breach on the starboard bow. During the 2019 expedition, a similar collision was reported and made headlines for a while after. Would you say that occurrences like this are common? (Video referenced here: Forecastle pass, Mast & Mudline Survey

A: I would say that collisions with the wreck are neither common nor uncommon. They happen, but the Russians took great pains to avoid collisions and it was a source of damage to their pride if one occurred. Indeed, you can hear the stress in Anatoly Sagalevitch's voice when it happened here. You can also see the particulates in the current moving in the direction of the hull, which tells me the sub is being pushed sideways into the hull. The Mirs have far more stability when moving forward and backward, and up and down, but not so much lateral stability. Consequently, the Mir appears to be just bumping along the hull because the current is pushing it sideways. Of particular note is that Lori and Jeremy Weirich, NOAA's PSO on the expedition, appear to be unconcerned, but Anatoly is not happy. It's also a very mild current, so he would find this collision inexcusable. Finally, you will note that there is a considerable amount of orange cloudiness kicked up near the end of the video. This is from either a collision or prop wash hitting the rusticles. Again, expresses concern.

Of particular interest to me is that the divers are looking for evidence of damage to the main mast from the illegal salvage expedition in the fall of 2002 and they cannot seem to find it. Roy Cullimore and I examined this video on the Keldysh on the 2003 expedition, and we both thought the unusual top down break in the mast was evidence that it had been pushed in from the top down. We saw evidence of this at the time, but I don't see it in this footage. I will have to take a closer look when time permits.

Q: It seems to my eye that a photomosaic was conducted in 2003, particularly a top down view of the bow. Am I correct in that assumption? If so, was that mosaic ever published?

A: If my memory serves me correctly, there was an attempt to produce a photomosaic but there were logistical challenges. I have never seen a published version. In fact, your efforts are the first I have ever seen of this footage and a few still images since I was on the ship in 2003, when we would review the video footage in post-dive briefings.

After discussing methods of giving Mr. Concannon access to the 2003 footage, he was kind enough to share the story of his involvement with the expedition.

This was my favorite of my three Titanic expeditions. I went with only 48 hours notice. Literally, a phone call on Friday afternoon asking if I could get to St. Johns by Sunday afternoon. My dive was cancelled because some equipment never showed up, so I spent 11-12 days on the ship reading Titanic books and making friends. It was the first time I was not in a leadership role, so it was like a mini-vacation.

Additional interviews coming soon!