NOAA 2004 Photos

Titanic: 2004
As a follow up to his 1986 mosaic, Robert Ballard conducted an overhead mosaic of the wreck again in 2004. This comparison allowed him, and the world to get their first perspective of Titanic's rate of deterioration. Notable differences included the collapse of the foremast and parts of the aft end of the boat deck. The navigation bridge had also collapsed significantly between expeditions. New holes had begun to open up in the roof of the reading and writing room, and the gymnasium had almost completely disappeared. Collapses were progressing in the vicinity of the grand staircase, and by 2010, these collapses would be nearly complete.

Dr. Robert Ballard keeps watch in the control van on board NOAA's RV, Ronald H. Brown. In the background, the 1986 mosaic provides reference for what has changed at the site since the wreck was discovered.

ROV Hercules is lifted over the side of the Ronald H. Brown. After deployment, Hercules makes the 2 1/2 hour descent to the sea floor.

ARGUS is prepared for deployment. ARGUS worked in tandem with Hercules during the 2004 expedition to carry out an unmanned survey of the wreck site and create a photomosaic, visible at the top of this page.

Dr. Robert Ballard with the Hercules ROV. The large cable attached to Hercules provides power to the ROV and transmits data back to the surface. The tether itself is over 3 miles long.

Dr. Ballard plans out a dive to the wreck with the crew from NOAA. Craig McLean stands in the background, the 2004 expedition is his second trip to wreck in two years.

A hand carved tiki that would be bolted to the frame of ARGUS for good luck on its trip to the seafloor. These tiki's are a tradition with the crew that operates ARGUS, and each one is hand carved.

Titanic's iconic prow emerges from the darkness. The anchor for rigging lines run from the foremast hangs down at its stem in remarkably good condition.

Another view of the prow as the camera passes over it to begin a survey of the wreck.

An open window to the officers quarters reveals only darkness within. A bar from a collapsed railing hangs from the roof at right, and the cover for a sidelight lies half buried in sediment on the deck below.

Titanic's telemotor - all that remains of the wheelhouse and navigating bridge equipment. The ships main helm was seated only a few feet aft of this spot and connected to this telemotor directly. The telemotor translated steering commands from the helm to the steering gear in the stern. The remains of Titanic's helm were found against the aft bulwark of this room and recovered. The helm is now on display at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

As areas were photographed for the photomosaic, a mark would be made on a grid over the 1986 mosaic to keep track of progress.

During a dive operation, the control van was a busy place, with crew members monitoring telemetry and video feeds, operating cameras and adjusting vehicle maneuvers as necessary.

Dr. Ballard assists in stabilizing Hercules during deployment

A BART (Biological Activity Reaction Test) platform is inspected after being recovered from the sea floor. This platform and others like it were initially deployed in 1998 at the wreck site to study how prolonged exposure to deep sea environments affects different materials. These experiments help in the process of designing deep sea pipelines and other infrastructure to prevent destruction of expensive equipment or leaking hazardous materials into fragile marine ecosystems. These platforms were left at Titanic's wreck site for an average of 5 years before recovery, and were inspected during expeditions such as 2003. You can see footage of the 2003 BART platform inspection on Page 5 of the Bow section footage under NOAA 2003.

Inside the control van on board Ronald H. Brown

Hercules undergoes maintenance. During Dive 2 of the 2004 expedition, a series of problems with Hercules resulted in an aborted dive and a need for repairs at sea.

During his downtime, Dr. Ballard assembles a jigsaw puzzle of Titanic, custom made for him by a crew member before the expedition.