Conducted in the summer of 2001, the ‘Ghosts of the Abyss’ expedition was the most comprehensive internal exploration of Titanic then achieved. Director James Cameron returned to Titanic aboard the Russian research vessel Keldysh with the very latest in scientific and film equipment.


James and his brother Mike teamed up to create the twin camera ‘bots’ named Jake & Elewood after the duo ‘Blues Brothers’. The expedition, which was filmed for release in IMAX format, saw the Titanic debut of Bill Paxton and Lewis Abernathy, who, though they played partners on the fictitious expedition seen in the movie, had never seen the Titanic beyond a mockup on a studio set. Joining them was a plethora of historians, scientists, and researchers.


Titanic Authors & Historians Don Lynch and Charles Pelligrino, Artist and Historian Ken Marschall, and veteran Titanic microbiologist Lori Johnston. The expedition revealed in stunning clarity many remnants of the ship’s luxurious interiors and revealed several major details which were unknown to historians concerning the ship’s architectural differences which lay hidden deep inside.


During the expedition one of the Camera bots ‘Elwood’ became trapped within the ship and had to be recovered. There followed a tense and nerve-wracking several attempts to retrieve the camera from Titanic’s interior. 

The date was September 11th, 2001, and though news had been transmitted during the morning stages of the recovery that “A terrorist attack has occurred at the World Trade Center and all flights are grounded” recovery operations continued and finally, the small bot was recovered and the submersibles rose to the surface with a mood of elation and excitement. The mood was short lived, for when the subs were safely on deck the full gravity of the morning news was revealed.

Titanic historian Don Lynch was down below in MIR 2 on this date and had the following recollection:

“….When we got to the surface we were so excited and everyone gave us about 10 minutes to talk about ‘our day’ and then Bill Paxton actually broke it to us what had happened that these two planes had been run into the World Trade Center and of course the Pentagon, and just the horrifying shock that everybody had, and it was the strangest feeling that I had left the surface… and I had left one world behind, when I came back, it was a new planet. It was a whole different world and there was no going back again. It was just the strangest, weirdest, sensation.”

Ghosts of the Abyss 2001 Movie Poster
Ghosts of the Abyss 2003 Bow Screenshot of Titanic
Ghosts of the Abyss 2003 Titanic Bridge Screenshot with ghosts

The expedition pulled itself together and continued on and endeavored to finish what they started. Exploration of the Titanic continued with a renewed sense of respect for the tragedy as news flashed across the television screens and radio of the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh. 


The expedition had been a major success and the release of “GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS ” in full 3D went on to critical acclaim and gave theater-goers the experience of seeing Titanic on IMAX screen as never before possible.

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