It was the evening of April 14th, 1912, when the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg, and sank shortly thereafter with unbelievable loss of life. The public has been absolutely fascinated with Titanic since news of the sinking first reached land the next day. The incredible degree of coincidence, the scope of the tragedy, and the cultural impact of the sinking, still hold the public's attention more than a hundred years later.

John in MIR 1

Inside the MIR 1 Submersible

Titanic is the most famous wreck in the world. To put it in perspective, more climbers have died attempting to climb Mount Everest, than have visited the wreck of Titanic in submersibles. For anyone interested in shipwrecks, Titanic is the place we all imagine visiting, but few are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to actually make the voyage.

In 2005, I was talking to attorney David Concannon about another legal matter when he told me a story of having seen wreckage that could change what we know about the sinking of Titanic. At the time, I was working with the History Channel on Deep Sea Detectives, and had a great relationship with HC. This was an opportunity I simply could not pass up. I talked to my friends, diver Richie Kohler, and producer Kirk Wolfinger. The three of us put up the money ourselves, contracted to use high speed HD cameras from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), hired Concannon, and put together an expedition aboard the Research Ship Keldysh, support platform for the deep sea submersibles Mir 1, and Mir 2. We were going to Titanic!!

We wanted to sign a TV deal to fund the expedition, but no one wanted to do anything other than wait to see what we came back with? If TV was going to cover the tab, we needed to be able to come up with something they wanted, or we had just contracted the most expensive dive charter in our lives.


The bow of the Titanic

On our first dive to Titanic, Concannon's theory crumbled, and we were hard pressed to come with a Plan B. It was not looking good for Richie, Kirk, and me. Billy Lange from WHOI, was kind enough to suggest that we head east of the main site, to an area with scattered wreckage, that was virtually unexplored. We did not really have anything else, so we took a chance and went searching for new wreckage to the east. We were incredibly lucky, not just to be diving Titanic, but to find something meaningful. What we discovered was enough to make a couple of TV programs,  including Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces, where Kirk, Richie, and I even won and industry award for documentary production. In addition, Brad Matsen wrote a nice book on the adventure, Titanic's Last Secrets.

Titanic is a beautiful wreck and she has been very generous to me, in allowing me to share some of her secrets. The short video was put together years ago by Jed Rauscher for a presentation we did at Beneath the Sea. It is just pretty pictures, but on the anniversary of the sinking, pretty pictures are appropriate.





6 Responses

  1. [...] 101st anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, John has posted a blog article about his experience Titanic | Shadow Diver | John Chatterton, shared some photos, and this video with some breathtaking footage of the Titanic in its final [...]
  2. Kurt Ahlstrom
    Nicely done, John!
  3. Jackie Ingram
    I went to the exhibition in Vegas recently, very disturbing. To see metal all twisted out of shape and then small, intact, delicate items was very profound for me. The forces during the sinking were very apparent and seeing that face to face rather than on the TV was alarming. For me it brought it home how terrifying it must have been. Wreck diving must be upsetting, fascinating and spectacular, all at the same time.
  4. I was lucky enough to see the film when you and Richie presented it on the West Punt beach during the Curacao Dive Fest. It was a major hit at the event. Good work John!
  5. Kevin
    I remember seeing a rough cut of the firsr few minutes at the first Norwood benifit in Morehead City. Great show, but not crazy about the history Channel re-cut.
  6. John, I remember when this show aired. I cannot imagine being inside of a submersible capsule 12,0000 feet below the surface. Participating in an expedition of this caliber must have been amazing. It is the kind of expedition that little boys day dream about in math class, and the place that big boys make history and plant their indelible signatures in the books of history. Congratulations on solving yet another deep sea mystery. You guys took some major financial and life risks to bring this to us all. Thank you. These journeys fuel the imagination of the young and old alike. One of my friends teaches elementary school, and he mentioned that he shows his students your videos and expeditions and demonstrates to the class that they too can live their dreams and succeed at seemingly impossible goals with hard work I really think it encourages them to live their dreams! Bravo!
  7. Ron Sindric
    John, Your beliefs as stated in Chapter Four of SHADOW DIVERS read like Army and Samurai Values. I sure wish more people today believed in Living the way you do. I have been SCUBA down once. I have piloted once. But I am just smart enough to know that I am not that good at anything other than photography and Teaching. You are a Man of Great Courage and Wisdom. I will Live by your Values. cảm ơn bạn Ron Sindric

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