Titanic explorer shares research with DUSAC

By Laura Nolan

The second of a series of talks run by the DU Sub-Aqua Club was given this week by Rory Golden. Golden’s talk on Wednesday 17 was entitled “The Search for Titanic” and focused on how the wreck was originally located and the early trips to it.

Golden is well-known on the Dublin diving scene and owns Flagship Scuba, one of Dublin’s largest diving shops. During the late 1980s he befriended researcher Ralph White, who had recently located the wreck of the Titanic. Golden has since dived to the wreck of the Titanic twice.

Golden spoke of the difficult process by which the wreck was found. The Titanic lies in over three kilometres of water, making conventional depth-sounding techniques useless in locating her.

As she sank before the introduction of GPS positioning and because of the time it takes for an object to sink in such deep water her precise location was unknown until 1985.

Golden explained the technique used to locate it, which involved using a sidescan sonar device to detect magnetic anomalies at the seabed. An assembly consisting of a very powerful flash and a camera was then dropped at each likely location which would take a photo when it reached the bottom. The device would then be recovered to the surface and the photo inspected. It took months to eventually find the wreck.

Golden also talked about the equipment required to dive to the Titanic wreck. The wreck lies at such a depth that it is not possible to reach with conventional scuba gear.

Small submersibles, which are essentially two-man submarines, are used. Each trip takes 15 hours, with seven to eight hours on the wreck and the rest devoted to descent and ascent.

The submersibles are fitted with lights, cameras and claws for picking up items. There are only a handful of submersibles in the world capable of diving to the Titanic, one is French and two belong to a Russian research vessel.

Golden showed photos of many artefacts retrieved from the wreck and told a number of anecdotes about his experiences on the research vessels and in the submersibles.

He mentioned a potentially dangerous moment when the sub lost power while at the wreck. Luckily this was because the Russian driver of the submersible had knocked a plug out with his foot.

The talk was well-attended, by a mixture of both DUSAC members and interested people from outside College. A collection was held for the RNLI charity, which runs the Irish lifeboat service, and ¤140 was raised for the cause.

The final talk in the series is scheduled for December 1 in the Science Gallery.

Dr Tom Doyle of UCC will give a talk entitled “Beauty and the Beast: Understanding Jellyfish in the Irish Sea”. The talk is free and all are welcome, but booking is essential through the Science Gallery’s website.