[an error occurred while processing this directive]


  Field Notes From
Titanic Revisited

<< Back to Feature Page

Titanic Revisited On AssignmentArrows

View Field Notes
From Photographer
Bert Fox

Titanic Revisited On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Author

Robert D. Ballard

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mark Thiessen (top) and Robert D. Ballard


Titanic Revisited On Assignment Photographer Titanic Revisited On Assignment Photographer
Titanic Revisited

Field Notes From Photographer
Bert Fox

Best Worst Quirkiest
    A lot of us have grown up with the myth and history of the Titanic. It's iconic and represents all shipwrecks, so sitting in a control booth seeing the Titanic's bow via video from remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on a large plasma screen was heart-stopping. I talked with the drivers of the ROVs and told them where I wanted the cameras to be to create the perfect image. It was a photo editor's dream and the chance of a lifetime. It's supreme control. You're at the spot, your looking at living history, and you have the power within your touch and voice to make a picture you know millions of people are going to see.

    For much of the expedition the weather was ideal, with calm seas and beautiful sunsets. But on a couple of occasions Mother Nature unleashed her power, tossing our ship around like a match-stick in a bathtub. The worst night came late in the voyage. The seas were heavy when I climbed in my bunk. As the night wore on the swells grew to nearly 40 feet (10 meters). Waves crashed over the bow. Before this night I'd surrendered to the ship's constant motion by telling myself it was akin to a baby rocking in the cradle. But not this night. As I lay in bed the fury outside tossed me from the cabin's wall on my right to the bunk ledge on my left. I didn't sleep. In the grayness of dawn I trudged to the mess, bruised and tired, and learned that another passenger had been flung from her top bunk during the storm. I sipped weak coffee and thought myself a lucky man. I stayed in my bunk.

    We had to do mandatory safety drills at least once a week. Everyone had to put on full-body neoprene suits and abandon ship. Had the passengers on the Titanic had similar clothing, the survival rate would have probably been around 80 or 90 percent because these suits float and are completely insulated. You could sit in ice water for a few hours and not get cold. But survival for Titanic passengers meant getting into a lifeboat.


© 2004 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe