Exploration of an epic wreck
Titanic lay untouched on the ocean floor for decades after its sinking. In 1985, a joint French-American expedition led by Robert D. Ballard discovered the historic wreck around 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the Titanic Maritime Memorial Act, designed to regulate the exploration of the wreck. Soon, debates raged among preservationists and salvagers as to how best preserve and raise the elements of the shipwreck. The RMS Titanic Inc. is the "salvor-in-possession of the wreck." NOAA has developed strict guidelines governing the area, as well as participated in scientific expeditions to the site. All the while, Titanic continues to disintegrate and decay into the ocean floor. Pictured here is the ROV Hercules examining the stern of Titanic during a 2004 expedition from the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown.