The new Millennium saw Rms Titanic Inc. under new management. The company, previously helmed by George Tulloch, was now in the hands of previous VP Arnie Geller. Following a dispute over the means with which the company had changed hands the French backed IFREMER terminated their long involvement with RMSTI and prompted the hiring of the Russian research vessel Keldysh to conduct the first salvage operation on Titanic under the new management.
The expedition, under the command of Dik Barton and G. Michael Harris, saw the return of veteran Titanic diver Ralph White as historian, as well as introduced tech diver Rory Golden, who became the first Irishman to visit the historic site.
Mr. Golden was also Dive Safety Operations Manager for the expedition. Titanic historian Bill Sauder was present as was artist & historian Ken Marschall to help identify and catalog the nearly 800 artifacts which were recovered using the Russian MIR submersibles. Among those who joined the ranks of Titanic divers on this expedition were Lowell Lytle, Roger Bansemer, and Rory Golden.
Roger Bansemer, a landscape painter and maritime artist took his debut dive to the Titanic to not only document the expedition, but to create something truly unique… on-site artwork of the great liner. Diving down in one of the Mir submersibles Mr. Bansemer sketched and painted the Titanic as he glimpsed her outside the viewports of the Mir submersible. His artwork was featured in the book “Journey to Titanic” as well as photographs taken of the expedition.
Alongside Mr. Bansemer was Mr. Lowell Lytle. A motivational speaker, actor, teacher, and historical impressionist who plays the role of Captain Smith for the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN. His incredible experiences are detailed in the book “Diving Into The Deep” which he wrote as a biographical work, and then narrated himself in audiobook format.
Rory Golden would make several dives to the Titanic, but perhaps none were as spectacular as this first dive… for it was on his debut to Titanic that he spotted, and recovered, the main ship’s wheel, buried under debris on Titanic’s deck. This incredible artifact still contained the wooden spokes which were all that remained of the massive wheel which was turned, in vain, by quartermaster Robert Hichens on April 14th, 1912, to avoid the fatal collision with the iceberg.
Upon reaching the surface Mr. Golden personally removed the twisted metal frame from its collection basket, and to the disbelief of those present, the hub and wooden wheel turned for the first time in 88yrs at his touch. On following dives a memorial plaque from Cobh, (Queenstown) Cork, Titanic’s last port of call, was left on the bridge of the ship.
Beside this plaque there was placed a small glass urn, within which there was a small bundle of ashes and part of a golden chain. This urn, placed by expedition guest diver Pat Clyne contained the ashes of recently deceased treasure hunter Mel Fisher, the man who discovered the treasure galleon Atocha in 1986, and had vouched in favor of Rms Titanic Inc. in the courts to defend the right for artifact retrieval from the Titanic.
“Among the artifacts recovered in this expedition were: the ship’s wheel and stand, whistle control timer from the navigation bridge, the main telegraph base and the docking bridge telephone. Among personal items recovered were binoculars, a pair of opera glasses, sixty-five intact perfume ampoules belonging to passenger Mr. Adolphe Saalfeld, a camera, bowler hat, first class demitasse and dinner plate. A base for a cherub likely from the Grand Staircase as well as gilded wood from a balustrade were also recovered. The nine leather bags provided more than one hundred additional objects. Some medicinal items were recovered that included a cobalt blue bottle that reads: BROMOSELTZER EMERSON DRUG CO. BALTIMORE MARYLAND. For the first time, two toilets, a wok, an intact deck light, circulating fans, thermometers, four eggcups, and a metal megaphone were recovered. These items will further provide a clearer picture of the workings of the TITANIC at that time period, and will further enhance future exhibition presentations. This expedition was conducted during the months of July and August 2000.”
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