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Titanic explorer to deploy deep water robots to save "decaying" wreck

London, Mon, 09 Apr 2012 ANI

London, Apr 9 (ANI): The ocean explorer who led the team that discovered the remains of the Titanic is afraid that the shipwreck is disintegrating and is seeking to dispatch deep-water robots to the ocean floor to conserve it.

Maritime officials and experts have warned the vessel, which hit an iceberg in April 1912, is rusting away at the bottom of the ocean.

The US Coast Guard recently wrote to the International Maritime Organisation asking for a ban on ships dropping rubbish or releasing sewage within 10 nautical miles of the site.

Robert Ballard, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, said last week that he will apply for a permit from US authorities to conduct an ambitious operation nearly 2 1/2 miles beneath the surface.

He has seen significant decay in the wreck that he found in 1985 as bacteria colonies, possibly fed by human waste and rubbish, have eaten away at the steel hull.

Small submarines carrying high-paying tourists are also accused of accelerating the damage by landing on the wreck - a claim strongly denied by expedition operators.

Underwater robots that would clean the ship's hull and coat it with protective anti-fouling paint have already been used to treat the hulls of oil tankers.

"When I first came to the ship in 1985, I saw original anti-fouling paint on the bottom and no corrosion there," the Telegraph quoted Ballard as telling the National Geographic News.

"It works, but obviously they didn't think they'd need to paint the whole ship with anti-fouling paint," he said.

He added the technique was needed "so the hull doesn't splay open and expose the highly preserved interior with its precious contents".

Ballard also proposes robot be used as "sentries" to monitor the visits by tourist submersibles that he is convinced have damaged the wreck. The Titanic is "being killed by love", he said last week.

Describing the wreck as "under siege" by natural forces, careless visitors and rogue salvage operators, he outlines his fears that it will not survive another 100 years in 'Save the Titanic', a documentary to be broadcast on the National Geographic cable channel this week. (ANI)


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