April 15, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic.
In August 2010, Jim participated in the most technologically-advanced field expedition to map Titanic. As the principal archaeologist, Jim is responsible for writing the archaeological report and site plan, and he and the team continue to sort through and analyze terabytes of data.
Now stunning images of the wreck and other details have been revealed. See media mentions and more below.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Jim speak, you’re in for a treat. Listen to the first part of a two-part podcast on Titanic presented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the show Making Waves.
Jim’s dynamic and riveting talk begins: “Titanic tugged at the heart since the beginning because of the circumstances of its loss. It’s a maiden voyage. You have all of these people on board. There’s so much promise. It was, as they say, in the movie, a ‘ship of dreams,’ particularly of those who were on it, to start a new life.” Stay tuned for part two in approximately two weeks.
Titanic Tweet Chat
Jim took part in a live tweet chat about Titanic on April 12, 2012 as part of his public education outreach initiative with NOAA.
Read the transcript and scroll down to find out more about Titanic and NOAA and watch two informative videos about the fascinating ship.
Jim talks with Science North about his 2 1/2 hour trip in a Mir submersible to see the great ship in 200o.
“You get this sense of something you’ve read about, you’ve heard about, you’ve seen in movies, and suddenly there it is. And it’s not just a story.” …
“Going there is akin to taking a trip to the moon.”
They also discuss Carpathia, the ship that rescued Titanic‘s survivors. The video shows images of the ships and news headlines of the day.
View Jim’s Titanic photos from that voyage.
Magazine Articles 2012
Published in Reader’s Digest Canada‘s April 2012 edition.
Mission Titanic: A deep-sea expedition resurrects the world’s most famous shipwreck by Kathy A. Smith, Jim’s long-time executive assistant. (Due to copyright permissions, a text-only version of the story is available on her website.)
Written by Jim for Archaeology Magazine
Excerpt: In 2010 two highly sophisticated robotic vehicles systematically crisscrossed the seabed on their own, with high-resolution sonar and camera systems, creating the first comprehensive map of the Titanic site. Another robot, at the end of a fiber-optic cable, sent to the surface live, full-color, 3-D images, allowing scientists to virtually walk the decks of the ship. This latest research effort, of which I was a part, represents a paradigm shift in underwater archaeology. For the first time, Titanic can be treated and explored like any other underwater site—even extreme depth is no longer an obstacle to archaeology. Thanks to rapid technological advances and interdisciplinary work, archaeologists have a whole new perspective on sites such as Titanic, and new questions to ask, questions we never could have dreamed of when underwater archaeology began just 50 years ago.
Excerpts: At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the “unsinkable” R.M.S. Titanic disappeared beneath the waves, taking with her 1,500 souls. One hundred years later, new technologies have revealed the most complete—and most intimate—images of the famous wreck.
“This is a game-changer,” says National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) archaeologist James Delgado, the expedition’s chief scientist. “In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm—with a flashlight.
Is the Titanic archaeology? A century since her loss on 15th April 1912 we examine her status as a monument to a great migration, and learn how recent survey has revolutionised knowledge of the wreck, as James Delgado told Matthew Symonds.
Media Mentions 2012
Excerpt: A 2004 photograph, released to the public for the first time this week in an uncropped version to coincide with the disaster’s centenary, shows a coat and boots in the mud at the legendary shipwreck site.
“These are not shoes that fell out neatly from somebody’s bag right next to each other,” James Delgado, the director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Excerpts: But 100 years after Titanic slipped beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, claiming the lives of more than 1,500 people, many of the risks remain very much the same.
Human error in the form of a momentary lapse of judgment or a misread map can still spell the demise of a ship. And we still tend to believe that technology can trump nature – to our own peril, said James Delgado, a shipwreck hunter, historian and director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Heritage Program.
“I think the key message of Titanic is that whenever we get complacent, whenever we think we have the technology that can deal with something, whenever we think we’re practically untouchable, we get reminded that we’re not,” Delgado told CTVNews.ca.
Excerpts: Federal officials, who have long struggled to assert protective authority over the resting place of the Titanic, say the site may harbor many undiscovered corpses and thus should be accorded the respect of a graveyard and shielded from looters and artifact hunters.
In an interview, Dr. Delgado of the ocean agency said the muddy seabed showed “clear signs” of human imprint. “Yes, you don’t see much in the way of bone,” he said, referring to the newly released photograph. “But this is clearly where someone came to rest on the bottom. It speaks powerfully to it being a grave site.”
This is an article authored by Jim.
Excerpts: After 27 years, we have learned much about Titanic, but there remains much to learn.
In my visits to the wreck, most recently in 2010 as part of a team conducting the first full mapping of the site, I have been struck, both scientifically and emotionally, by what I have seen. I am amazed by the sea’s power to not only claim Titanic, but to also hold it as a monument, a memorial, and an archaeological site.
Excerpts: It was 100 years ago this week that the liner set sail from Southampton for New York on her maiden voyage. Maritime officials and experts have warned the vessel, which hit an iceberg in April 1912 is rusting away at the bottom of the ocean.
James Delgado, chief of the maritime heritage office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said: “The Titanic can be a model for how humanity treats the world’s underwater cultural heritage. But we cannot do nothing.”
Excerpts: There were catastrophes before that fateful Sunday night in April 1912, but nothing quite captivated the newly wireless-connected globe’s attention. It was more than news. It was a macabre form of entertainment.
“The story is ageless, like all great stories,” said James Delgado, director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The elements in this case of triumph, tragedy, and hubris, of bravery and cowardice, all wrapped up in one brief moment. That speaks to people.”
Excerpts: Explorers and United States government experts have put together the first comprehensive map of the Titanic’s resting place, illuminating a square mile of inky seabed as a guide to better understanding the liner’s death throes and better preserving its remains.
“People have the right to see, explore and learn,” said James P. Delgado, director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors the wreck. “But you want to put down guidelines like those at Gettysburg and the Acropolis, so visitors can experience it in the same way.”
Now, as the 100th anniversary of the disaster April 15, 1912, approaches, U.S. officials and experts are pushing for decisions on what the future should be for the world’s most famous shipwreck. Should it be preserved? And if so, what’s the best way to ensure its legacy?
“Titanic is a wreck that the world cannot leave alone,” says archaeologist James Delgado, chief of the maritime heritage office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “We can’t raise her, and we can’t keep her forever as it is now. But we can celebrate her and let her tell her story to future generations.”
Excerpts: Litter bugs on the high seas are fouling the Titanic’s watery grave with beer cans, plastic cups, even soap boxes, a century after the “unsinkable” luxury liner went down, experts said Wednesday.
“The basic hull remains very strong and very solid,” said James Delgado, director of the marine heritage program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. federal agency.
Excerpts: Litter bugs on the high seas are fouling the Titanic’s watery grave with beer cans, plastic cups, even soap boxes, a century after the “unsinkable” luxury liner went down, experts said Wednesday.
Contrary to popular belief, the wreck of history’s greatest maritime disaster is not swiftly rusting away 3,780 metres under the North Atlantic. In fact, it looks likely to stay intact for many decades to come. “The basic hull remains very strong and very solid,” said James Delgado, director of the marine heritage program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. federal agency.
Excerpts: RMS Titanic will never be raised from her resting place two and a half miles down. She can however be raised virtually for all to explore thanks to a new 3D map. April will see the first release of a ‘virtual’ Titanic, an enormously detailed interactive 3D map that will allow those of us who cannot afford $60,000 for a submersible dive an experience similar to diving down two and a half miles to the wreck itself.
James Delgado, chief scientist and principal archaeologist on the Titanic mapping project at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration federal agency (NOAA) explains why: “Ideally we would have done this after Ballard discovered the site. But we had no GPS, no GIS systems to hold the surface support vessel stationary, and no autonomous underwater robots. We also lacked the vast computing power required to stitch together the terabytes of data.”
Excerpts: New photos of the ship that sank 100 years ago on April 15, on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, will be published in the April edition of National Geographic Magazine for the first time giving a sense of what the wreck looks like today.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration archaeologist James Delgado told National Geographic the technique was “a game-changer”.
…”Now we have a site that can be understood and measured, with definite things to tell us. In years to come this historic map may give voice to those people who were silenced, seemingly forever, when the cold water closed over them.”
Ooooh, National Geographic, how we love you so…
With the 100th anniversary of the sinking next month, we’re ALL getting way too excited about the 3D re-release of Titanic. But we’re also kinda innerested in the real deal too… which is why these photos BLEW our mind!
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration archaeologist James Delgado says of the project:
“This is a game-changer. In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm—with a flashlight. Now we have a site that can be understood and measured, with definite things to tell us. In years to come this historic map may give voice to those people who were silenced, seemingly forever, when the cold water closed over them.”
Excerpts: New images of the wreck of the RMS Titanic reveal for the first time ever the full stretch of the “unsinkable” boat — sprawled silently 12,500 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
“This is a game-changer,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) archaeologist James Delgado, the expedition’s chief scientist, told National Geographic. “In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm—with a flashlight.”
Excerpts: It’s the Titanic, like you’ve never seen it before.
The images, released nearly 100 years to the date since the ship slipped beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, provide an intimate, never-before-seen glimpse of the ruins as they are today.
The expedition, which cost several million dollars, is a “game-changer,” according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration archaeologist James Delgado.
Excerpts: The Titanic has rested on the Atlantic Ocean floor for nearly a century but now stunning new photographs show what the wreckage looks like today.
James Delgado, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has been studying the wreck for decades, explained the significance of the technology used to capture these images.
He told National Geographic: “This is a game-changer. In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm—with a flashlight.
“Now we have a site that can be understood and measured, with definite things to tell us.
“In years to come this historic map may give voice to those people who were silenced, seemingly forever, when the cold water closed over them.”
Titanic auction interest rises as 100th mark nears
Excerpt: “The power of the collection as a whole speaks to the ship, to the people and the events of that night in a way that one item can’t,” said Delgado, who led a science team that recorded the wreck site in 2010. “They offer context — where they came from and what they once represented on the ship when it was afloat.”
Media Mentions 2010
Excerpts: El 15 de abril de 1912, hace casi 100 años, el hasta entonces invencible Titanic culminaba de la forma más trágica su primer viaje tripulado. Tras entrar a una helada zona del Atlántico, su cubierta de acero comenzó a debilitarse producto del intenso frío. Al contrario de lo que se vio en la película, el hundimiento comenzó antes de impactar contra el iceberg.
…La importancia del mapeo en 3D lo ejemplifica el arqueólogo marino James Delgado, quien ha participado en dos expediciones al Titanic. “Si antes se conocía la calle en la que estaba el Titanic, ahora se conoce la ciudad entera.” Esto fue posible gracias a la nueva tecnología que incorporó esta misión: cámaras de alta resolución para tomar fotos, videos con una claridad inédita, una cámara 3D y un sonar capaz de detectar objetos del tamaño del puño de una mano.
Excerpts: According to Louise Patten, the granddaughter of the only senior officer to survive the wreck, Charles Lightoller, Titanic hit the berg because the man at the wheel made a mistake, misunderstanding an order and turning right instead of left.
…Could the helmsman really have made that mistake? And if so, could it have stayed secret for so long?
…”I think it’s entirely possible,” James Delgado, the president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M, told ABC News.
3D photos cast Titanic in new light
Excerpt: The scientists are in the process of using fibre-optic cameras to identify and catalogue the artifacts in the debris scattered over miles, using high-definition, 3-D still images and video. With more than 16,000 pictures taken, researchers are already a quarter of the way done after just a day and a half’s work with the 3D cameras.
“I was not prepared for how amazing that [one] glimpse was,” said James Delgado, shipwreck archaeologist and principal investigator, and one of two Canadians on the expedition. He said the 3D view from the Jean Charcot’s onboard laboratory was better than his deep-sea submarine trip to the Titanic years ago. He said the visual quality of the research means it will be shared among scientists and the public.
“Now everyone can literally look, in 3D, and it’s as if you’re diving Titanic. And that just stuns me,” he said.
The end goal is a complete archaeological site plan and inventory.
“Most people don’t realize that, while we have mapped the surface of the moon and the surface of Mars, we have not done that for the ocean. There are still vast areas of this planet that are still unexplored and unknown,” Mr. Delgado said.
The mission will use underwater robots to take 3-D measurements and construct a comprehensive picture of the famous wreck
Excerpt: Debris from the luxury liner, which sank nearly 100 years ago, is spread over a sprawling underwater site measuring about three-by-five kilometres. The mission will use underwater robots to take three-dimensional measurements and construct a view of the wreck.
“It would be as if you went to the side of the freeway in the aftermath of a car wreck, and everything is spread out,” Mr. Delgado, a maritime archeologist, said on Sunday from the bridge of the Jean Charcot. “Imagine then that after nearly 100 years, it’s still there, untouched.”
Excerpt: The voyage was prompted by a change of management at R.M.S. Titanic, which has been arguing in court for 17 years to be granted ownership of the artifacts it collected after 1987 or to be compensated for salvaging them. Rather than battle the archaeologists, the company’s new management met with a group of them over a year ago and learned that carefully mapping the wreckage site was the scientific community’s priority.
“A lot of decisions in the past have been decided by a court saying you need to go and pick up things in order to maintain sovereign possession,” said James P. Delgado, the president and chief executive of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, a former critic of the company whose group is participating in this trip. “The level of intervention in the site in the future needs to be dictated by hard science.”
Excerpt: Delgado took in a breath and then talked about how those shoes, and other shipwreck artifacts, are exactly why he sees his work as something beyond the discovery and the science — it’s also about telling the stories of the people connected to the shipwrecks. In many ways, he said, it’s the humanity that keeps him diving, keeps him exploring.
And he said that he, too, had been to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, and had seen the exhibit and, because he’s Delgado, was invited to the storerooms in the back, where there were other items not on exhibit, including photographs of the bodies recovered in the aftermath of the sinking and, he said, they were hard to look at.
One of them, he said, was a photograph of the body of a small boy, floating on the surface of the Atlantic. He was wearing those little leather shoes.
Sunken ships and the stories they tell
Maritime archeologist James Delgado has explored more than 100 wrecks around the globe
Excerpt: The group aims to “map” the Titanic, by sending down equipment instead of people, in this case sophisticated audio, visual and ultrasound equipment and ROVs (remotely operated underwater vehicles), designed to gather a complete snapshot, from video and photos to measurements, of the much celebrated White Star liner, which sank April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg, taking 1,517 of its 2,223 passengers and crew with it.
“We want to get a complete 3-D map of the entire site, everything on the bottom. I want to know, like the CSI team, how these things relate to each other. Is it just like a big explosion or are there areas of concentration? We want to know how the environment has affected the cultural material.”
A deep-sea expedition will explore the world’s most famous wreck site – so you can do the same
Excerpt: While the main purpose of the mapping effort is archaeological, it will also allow scientists to lift the veil from the world’s most famous ocean cemetery and give all of us the chance to explore its every corner – including its iconic bow, separated at the time of its sinking from its stern – albeit by clicking a mouse. The plan is eventually to post the 3D model on the internet.
“The optical imaging platform is going to give us detailed three-dimensional data which has not been done before,” James Delgado, president of the Texas-based Institute of Nautical Archaeology and a co-leader of the mission told The Independent. “This will be the first time that someone has looked at, mapped, plotted and brought back to the surface the sense of the entire Titanic site.”
Scientists to create 3-D map of wreck site
Excerpt: Despite the public fascination with the Titanic, large swaths of the debris field have remained unexplored, and specialists tapped for the project are eager to conduct a systematic, scientific study, work many feel should have been completed years ago. “It’s been a long time coming,’’ Delgado, the expedition’s principal investigator, said. “Arguably this is the best known shipwreck of the 20th century, of incredibly iconic significance, yet there have been very few missions there focused on understanding the site.’’
Vancouver man leads Titanic expedition
Research team will collect data to map wreck and track deterioration of historic vessel
Excerpt: The lead archeologist is James Delgado of Vancouver, who is president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, a pioneering international group in the field of underwater archeology. “This is a major step forward for this wreck, for understanding and working with deepwater shipwrecks,” he said.
Excerpt: Delgado says because this has never been attempted before, he hopes to get enough data of the entire area, which he says is the size of Downtown Vancouver.