HOST: This is Ocean Shorts from NOAA's National Ocean Service. I'm Troy Kitch. One hundred and four years ago this month, the RMS Titanic sank after striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage from the United Kingdom to New York City. Nearly ¾ of the 2,200 people on board the ship perished.
JIM DELGADO: 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.
HOST: You're listening to Jim Delgado, ocean explorer and marine archeologist.
JIM DELGADO: "The fact that that ended suddenly and dramatically that, while there was class distinction—while some of the poorer people were locked below which in itself was dramatic and tragic, the fact that death cut across all classes. That the the richest man on board, died … that had an impact. As well as the poignancy of the loss of the families. That played out dramatically, because in many ways Titanic was the world's first modern world media disaster that played out in real-time. What I mean by that is that this was in an age before regular online fast-breaking news broadcasts, but there was the wireless transmission. The dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, that told the story dramatically that she was sinking. That other ships were on their way and then, ultimately, that the Carpathia had arrived to find Titanic sunk and they picked up survivors. And then the wait of a few days until Carpathia docked. And then the story went across the wires, throughout the world, it dominated headlines. It inspired more than a thousand pieces of music, it inspired memorials, sermons, physical monuments, and a lot of quiet, private heart-broken remembrance. When you consider a man who had come from his native Finland, who had arrived with his brother-in-law to raise money to bring his wife and four children home, to have sent the money to her for her to be on Titanic and to find that, that night, all of them had died. When he showed up at the White Star Lines office in New York, and stood in line and was told that his wife and children were gone, he collapsed. His friend ushered him to a bench and, white-faced, he somewhat came to and stumbled off and never again married, really didn't speak much of it until he died in 1965. That played out powerfully in a lot of households. Those types of stories speak to us still after 100 years. It's literally just around the corner in terms of human history, you can think of it as just a few generations . I myself have met and talked with Titanic survivors, all now gone of course, and in that connection to humanity and that connection to not only meeting these people and hearing their stories, but the connection that you have when you're actually there, when you see that ship, I think that's why it sticks with us. And Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel's rediscovery of the Titanic in 1985 really brought that home. With every visit since, we are compelled in many ways—Titanic is a ship that really never left us … or shall I say, Titanic is a ship that we never really left alone.
HOST: This podcast is an excerpt from one of two special episodes we produced on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 2012. We hope you check our show notes for our full interview with Jim Delgado, Director of Maritime Heritage with the National Ocean Service's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.