Extraordinary and never-before-seen footage of the Titanic’s wreckage was released Wednesday — unraveling some of the deep-sea mystery behind the sunken ship.
Video of a 1986 expedition that runs 80 minutes long was released by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to coincide with the 25th anniversary release of the movie “Titanic” in theaters.
Ocean explorer and crew leader Robert Ballard recalled the mission more than two miles below the surface and how remarkable the sheer mass of the RMS Titanic was.
“The first thing I saw coming out of the gloom at 30 feet was this wall, this giant wall of riveted steel that rose over 100 and some feet above us,” he told the Associated Press in an interview.
“I never looked down at the Titanic,” he added. “I looked up at the Titanic. Nothing was small.”
The three-person crew first laid eyes on the sunken cruise liner as they headed to the surface during the dive. As they inched up, Ballard saw the cruise liner’s portholes.
“It was like people looking back at us. It was pretty haunting actually,” he said, noting he saw what looked like shoes worn by a mother and a baby.
The newly released video takes viewers through the grainy interiors of the ship by a remotely-operated underwater exploration vehicle called Jason Jr. At one point, a chief officer’s cabin is peeked into.
Video also shows Alvin approaching the Titanic and checking out the bow and parking on its deck. It also shows Lavin on the ocean bottom showing debris.
“More than a century after the loss of Titanic, the human stories embodied in the great ship continue to resonate,” said “Titanic” director James Cameron in a statement.
“Like many, I was transfixed when Alvin and Jason Jr. ventured down to and inside the wreck. By releasing this footage, WHOI is helping tell an important part of a story that spans generations and circles the globe.”
The WHOI team, based in Massachusetts on Cape Cod, found the shipwreck more than 12,400 feet deep in 1985 using a towed underwater camera after countless efforts in the past to find the massive ship. The organization worked with a French institute during the exploration.
The newly released footage was from the return expedition the next year.
When the Titanic set sail, it was the largest ocean liner ever made and considered unsinkable. But it smashed into an iceberg in the wee hours of April 15, 1912 en route to New York City from England.
The ship sank at about 2:20 a.m. The 1985 discovery took place around the same time of day, at about 2 a.m.
A crewmember noticed the time coincidence and remarked, “She sinks in 20 minutes,” Ballard recalled.
“We actually stopped the operation and raised the vehicle to gather my thoughts and I said, ‘I’m going to go outside and just get myself back together’ and everyone else followed,” he said.
“We had a small memorial service for all those that had died. But we were there, we were at this spot.”
With Post wires