Titanic expert to return to sea bed
The man who discovered the wreck of the Titanic is to return to its final resting place to capture new images of the ship for the £100m visitor attraction in Belfast.
Dr Robert Ballard will journey two-and-a-half miles to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean next month to film the mangled stern section, which broke off from the rest of the liner as she sank on her maiden voyage in 1912.
His footage will enable Belfast's Titanic Signature Project, which is under construction in the same docklands where the ship was built, to show visitors the first complete image of the wreck which Dr Ballard discovered in 1985.
Details of the underwater venture emerged as the team building the project - which will be the world's largest Titanic attraction - briefly opened its doors to show off progress to date.
Live streamed pictures of all future submarine trips to the wreck will also be broadcast in the centre from April next year when it opens just ahead of the 100th anniversary of the sinking. Project manager Noel Molloy said the underwater map was only one unique feature of many set to be housed in the eye-catching white-panelled building, which is modelled on the Titanic's bow.
"The Titanic broke in two before she went down," he said.
"Whatever way that section hit the ocean bed it just absolutely smashed it, so nobody's ever really done a (photo) mosaic of that.
"So Dr Ballard is going down for us because it's not complete."
The centre compromises nine separate galleries, each telling a different part of the Titanic story, from the Harland and Wolff shipyard and the disaster that claimed more than 1,500 lives, to its eventual rediscovery 70 years later.
Mr Molloy said the video technology used in some of the exhibits is more high-tech than that used in the Oscar-winning film Avatar. The designers have also called in a five-strong team of academic experts to ensure everything is factually correct and none of the countless myths about the ship unwittingly sneak into the narrative.
The building overlooks the slipway the Titanic was launched from in 1911 and will sit on a huge outdoor map of the northern Atlantic, which will chart the ill-fated voyage.
Standing in the shadow of one of the 90-foot 'bow' sections of the building, Mr Molloy explained why he thinks the centre will become a must-see attraction.
"One hundred feet in front, that's where the Titanic was built, 100 feet to your right, that's the drawing office, that's where the Titanic was drawn, out to the left is the River Lagan where the Titanic first set sail. So that's what gives this whole building its unique selling point.
"Other than here and the position where the Titanic currently sits, there are no other places more relevant in the world."