Report: Titanic Hull on Verge of Collapse

ByABC News
August 15, 2000, 5:52 AM

A T L A N T A, Aug. 15 -- Time is quickly running out to get inside theTitanic because its hull is deteriorating more rapidly thanexpected, said the president of the Atlanta-based companyconducting salvage operations at the ship.

The only items recovered from the ocean liner that sank on itsmaiden voyage on April 14, 1912, are scattered in a debris fieldaround the ships hull.

This summers work in the area 350 miles south of Newfoundlandhas led to the recovery of about 500 artifacts, including athird-class passengers purse with its contents intact, said ArnieGeller, president of the RMS Titanic Inc. Gellers company is theonly one authorized to salvage items from the shipwreck.

But treasures and historic artifacts still inside the shipshull may never be salvaged unless crews make progress within thenext season or two.

Scientists have estimated that iron-eating microbes already haveconsumed as much as 20 percent of the bow.

Dramatic Changes in Hull

According to Geller, scientists anticipated two years ago thatrapid deterioration would occur over the next five years. Diverslooking at the shipwreck in recent weeks say the ship could lasttwo more years or could collapse like an accordion within months.

It was dramatically different between two years ago and today.We were all very surprised, Geller said.

David Concannon, a Philadelphia attorney who represents RMSTitanic, has recently spent 16 hours in a submersible, helpingrecovery operations with Titanic expedition veterans. They alsowere shocked when they saw the extent of deterioration.

Its devastating to look at. The wreck is not what you imaginewhen you see it on film or in books, he said.

Geller hopes to place robotic cameras inside the hull before thescheduled Aug. 30 conclusion of this seasons expedition to recordrooms that have not been seen before, in case the ship collapses.

Beyond August, the weather is too severe for further work.