THE UNFOLDING JOURNEY is a new blog written in association with Legacy Genealogy.

This blog is a blend of disciplines that reveal the rich texture of culture and history that surrounded your ancestors' lives, as well as your own. We will take you beyond just the names, dates, and places to give you the "back story" for the reasons your ancestors thought what they thought and did what they did. We invite you to also visit us at the Legacy Genealogy facebook page at http://facebook.com/legacygenealogy

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For Whom The Bell Tolls

In 1752, two hundred and sixty years ago, the first “Liberty Bell” arrived in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of its Constitution. It was to be placed in the State House steeple (later called Independence Hall).
It was first hung to test the sound in March of 1753. People were horrified to learn that it had been cracked by the clapper, due to flaws in the casting. This, however, is NOT the famous crack that everyone knows about.
Pass and Snow, Philadelphia foundry workers, were given the job of melting the bell down and recasting it. They added significant amounts of copper to make the new bell less brittle. The new bell was hung again later in 1753. Almost nobody liked the tone of the new bell. Pass and Snow tried again, melting it down and recasting it. In November of the same year, it was hung a third time and people were still displeased with the sound. A new bell was ordered from the original foundry in England. When it arrived, it sounded no better than the Pass and Snow bell.

This new replacement bell was still hung at the State House in a different location and was rung daily (being connected to the clock). The original Pass and Snow bell (not yet called the Liberty Bell) was rung on special occasions only such as the First Continental Congress meeting (1774) and after the Battles of Lexington and Concord (1775). The most famous legendary ringing of the Pass and Snow bell was thought to be on July 8, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public. Because of the poor condition of the steeple, historians doubt that this story is true.
Weeks before the British occupied Philadelphia in October of 1777, all bells were removed from the city to keep them from being melted down for cannon balls. The Pass and Snow bell was hidden beneath the floorboards of the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Returned the following year, the bell stayed in storage until 1785 when a new steeple was erected. It was rung again in 1787 for the ratification of the Constitution.
Hairline cracks were discovered many times during the years and repaired. But there are several theories about when the bell received its fatal crack. Most historians believe it was in 1846 when it was rung vigorously by a group of boys for Washington’s Birthday celebration. The final expansion of an earlier crack made it almost unusable.
The name “Liberty Bell” was first used in the late 1830’s; bestowed on it by Abolitionists who adopted the bell as a symbol for their cause. The Abolitionists believed the passage from the Bible cast on the bell demanded that all slaves and prisoners were to be freed.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement also used a replica of the Liberty Bell; its clapper chained to the side to represent their lack of a voice in America. The chain was removed and the bell rung in 1920 after the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Was the bell ever rung again in public? Yes. Two recordings were carefully made of the actual sound of the Liberty Bell in 1915 and 1926. It was rung again in 1944 during the D-Day Invasion and the sound was broadcast worldwide by radio. The last time it was rung was in 1962 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Berlin Wall, to show American solidarity with the people of Berlin. Today the image of the Liberty Bell is used on everything from postage stamps to book ends to piggy banks to slot machines. The crack gives it a certain character and it is almost always depicted with the crack facing forward.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination"

Rod Serling was many things. He was a decorated paratrooper, amateur boxer, successful screenwriter, opponent of censorship, college professor, anti-war activist, and the archetypal “angry young man” of the 1950’s and 60’s. For those of us who are Baby Boomers, Serling opened our minds to the power of imagination and human interaction.
He was a man we thought we knew, but we didn’t really know him at all.
Rod Serling was born in 1924 and spent his childhood years in upstate New York. He was outgoing and imaginative but labeled a “class clown” in school. Rod developed an interest in writing while he was the editor of his school newspaper. He enlisted in the Army the day after high school graduation in 1943. Trained as a paratrooper and sent to the Pacific Theatre, he was reassigned to a demolition unit or “death squad” (because of its high fatality rate). He was wounded twice in combat in the Philippines and was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Philippines Liberation Medal.
After the war, Serling attended Antioch College majoring in Literature while supporting himself by testing parachutes and ejection seats for the Air Force, a job that at any time could end his writing career. By 1950, he was earning a little money each week by writing professionally and selling a script here and there for radio. His first semi-steady work came when his idea was accepted for a weekly radio show. It was about a boy and girl travelling by train from town to town getting involved with locals. It was called “Adventure Express.” Serling became disgruntled with writing for radio serials however. He felt that they “ate up” is ideas and forced him to “write around the clock.” He couldn’t afford to give away his ideas for $50 a week.
Taking his old unproduced radio scripts and some new work, he decided to try television. Many of his stories seemed to fit the new medium better, and they were reviewed positively. In 1955, Rod Serling had his first taste of success with a story called “Patterns” about corporate struggles. It was broadcast nationwide by Kraft Television Theatre. It was considered a creative triumph. From then on, he was being offered jobs writing for television, radio, and even plays and novels. Soon after, Rod Serling wrote “Requiem for a Heavyweight” that solidified his success.
In 1958, he submitted a story to CBS which he intended to be the pilot for a new weekly series called the “Twilight Zone.” On October 2, 1959, the network broadcast the first episode of the show which was to run for five years. Because of past struggles with sponsor censorship and network reluctance to air programs that they thought controversial, Serling fought to retain creative control of the show. He believed that the science fiction foundation of the Twilight Zone was perfect as it probably would escape censorship and give him an opportunity to layer in social messages in a more understated manner. The show did in fact allow Rod Serling to incorporate his own liberal views about racial issues and anti-war movements.  
The Twilight Zone had a dedicated following, although it was not among the most watched programs overall. The quality of his writing, he personally wrote two thirds of all the episodes, which included complex plots and surprising story twists, became a legendary television series. Whether the characters were isolated in a dinner during a snowstorm, frightened passengers on an airliner in a lightning storm, or looking for aliens in their neighborhood on a summer night, each episode had it own subtle message about how human beings interacted, both for good or evil.
After The Twilight Zone’s run ended, Rod Serling continued writing for films. His work included everything from “Requiem for a Heavyweight” to “Seven Days in May” to “Planet of the Apes.” He even wrote one third of the scripts for another series called “Night Gallery” which ran for three seasons. In between other projects, Serling taught courses in writing and film at Antioch College and Ithaca College. He went on several speaking tours of college campuses across the country where he expressed his objection to the Vietnam War.
During May and June of 1975, Rod Serling, a lifelong chain smoker, suffered three consecutive heart attacks; the final one during open heart surgery. He died as a result. He was only 50 years old.
In his own words, Rod Serling would want you to remember: “You are travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination - next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Cleopatra's Children

It’s good to be the Queen. It’s not so great to be her children.
For the last 300 years of the “Pharaohs” NONE of them were Egyptian. They were all Greek. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled Egypt from 323 B.C. to 30 B.C.. The first “Greek” Pharaoh was Ptolemy I, a commander serving under Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., Ptolemy became the Pharaoh of Egypt. For the next 300 years in Egypt, every ruling male was named Ptolemy and every ruling female was named Cleopatra. To distinguish them from one another, each was given a number after their name. Virtually all of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs were produced by inbreeding. This was the way power was kept consolidated in the family.
Fast forward to the famous Cleopatra we all know. She is Cleopatra VII. Initially she married her brother, Ptolemy XIII, as was the family’s custom, but they had no children. Next she was involved with Julius Caesar (as his mistress) and bore him one son named Caesarion. This child was represented in the 1963 film “Cleopatra.” After Julius Caesar’s death, Cleopatra married Mark Anthony. The story up to this point is fairly well known.
But we were wondering . . . what happened to Caesarion, and did Cleopatra and Mark Anthony have any children? Well, we have the answers.
Caesarion was born in 47 B.C.. Julius Caesar, who was already married, never acknowledged that Caesarion was his son, but allowed him to be his namesake. The little boy’s full name was “Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar”, no wonder it was shortened to Caesarion. He spent most of his first 2+ years in Rome. After Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., Cleopatra and her son returned to Egypt. Caesarion was proclaimed Pharaoh of Egypt and Cyprus; but in name only as his mother was co-ruler. 
With Julius Caesar dead, his nephew Octavian and friends Mark Anthony and Lepidus jointly ruled the empire. Cleopatra and Mark Anthony met, fell in love and married (Anthony was already married). They had three children together. Twins were born in 40 B.C., a boy, Alexander Helios and a girl, Cleopatra Selene II. Four years later, they had another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus.
Even though they were children, these three were all named as rulers of the countries controlled by Cleopatra and Anthony. Alexander Helios (below right) was the ruler of Armenia, Media (northwestern Iran), and Parthia (northeastern Iran). Cleopatra Selene II was the ruler of Cyrenaica and Libya (both now part of modern Libya). Ptolemy Philadelphus was named ruler of Phoenicia (Israel and Lebanon), Syria, and Cilicia (southeastern Turkey).
Eventually war broke out between Octavian (now known as Augustus) and the Mark Anthony/Cleopatra forces. Caesarion was hidden by his mother in a small port town but was discovered by Augustus’ men. He was captured and executed. Caesarion was not only the last of the Greek line of pharaohs, but the last Pharaoh of Egypt. He was 17 when he died. Mark Anthony and Cleopatra both also died that same year. Anthony committed suicide by stabbing himself, thinking that Cleopatra was already dead; and she committed suicide when she witnessed Anthony’s final moments. It was kind of like an ancient Romeo and Juliet. Mark Anthony was 53, Cleopatra was 39.
All three children of the couple were spared their lives. The twins were 10 years old, little Ptolemy Philadelphus was six. They were taken to Rome to live under the care of Mark Anthony’s Roman wife, Octavia Minor, who was now also a widow.

On Augustus’ orders, the daughter, Cleopatra Selene II, was later given in an arranged marriage to Juba, the Berber King of Mauretania (Algeria and Tunisia). She lived to the age of 34. Her brothers never reached adulthood; Alexander Helios died at 15 and Ptolemy Philadelphus lived only to the age of seven.
So now we have some closure to the question of what happened to Cleopatra’s children.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Personal Story of Diving to the Titanic Wreck Site

Charles Haas is the world’s foremost authority on the Titanic. He has written five books on the subject and is the co-founder of the Titanic International Society. In 1994 he co-authored the best-selling book “Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy” with Jack Eaton. It is considered the most complete text ever written about The titanic.
On two occasions he has had an opportunity to participate as an observer on dives to the wreckage of the ship, lying 12,600 feet below the surface. The trips were aboard the submersible “Nautile” operated by the French Institute of Research for the Exploartion of the Sea in conjunction with several of the Titanic expeditions between 1987 and 2004. The story that follows was written by Charles. It gives us a first hand account of the mystery and beauty of diving to the bottom of the sea and exploring the remains of the Titanic. 
 “Inside Nautile there is a feeling of movement as the craft is lifted perhaps 20 feet by the crane and lowered into the sea; then there is a rolling motion as the waves pitch around in a somewhat circular fashion. There is a sensation of the sea ‘taking command’, although this probably passes with experience. The pilot, seated upright, radios final checks to the mother ship as co-pilot and observer lie on their stomachs looking through the 4 inch heavy Plexiglas viewports.
“After a muffled conference via radio with Nadir (the mother ship) that all appears in order, there is a new feeling, one of stability, as the submersible descends beneath the waves’ reach on its downward journey. The water’s surface slips past the portholes; the water becomes a bright blue-green streaked with yellow, which quickly vanishes as color changes from emerald to forest green to deepest blue. Then there is only a hint of color, grey, perhaps. At 30 feet the waves’ motion ceases. At 300 feet it is pitch black outside. It is dark inside the cabin’s cramped confines, too, to conserve battery power and minimize physical encounters with large denizens of the deep.
“The rate of descent is about 100 feet a minute but there is no sensation of depth or motion. One must turn to the digital fathometer to see the Nautile is moving as quickly as a skyscraper’s lift. The submersible’s inside pressure is the same as that on the surface, secured by a tightly fitting hatch whose surfaces are pushed ever closer together by the increasing depth pressure.
“For the pilot and co-pilot there is little rest during the dive’s first phase: gauges, instruments and electronic devices must be carefully and constantly checked to make certain there are no problem evolving in the vehicle’s systems. But for the observer, time passes slowly. There is no frame of reference, merely the pilot’s occasional report to the surface and quiet conversation. Interior lights are dimmed and shaded so they do not interfere with outside observations.
“The cabin develops a chill; water at Titanic’s wreck quickly cools the unheated sphere’s interior. Layers of clothing prove a godsend. Water droplets - condensed moisture from the men’s breath - begins to create a ‘private drizzle.’ By the dive’s end, more than three gallons of accumulated moisture will fill a sump under the co-pilot and observer.
“Suddenly there is a gentle hum and whatever sense of drifting might have been present ceases with the realization that Nautile’s electric motors have been turned on, sending her on a controlled course. A click, implied rather than felt, and the exterior lights are on. The observer presses against the portholes and peers out into the void.
“An off-white, sandy bottom, gently rolling as a rural landscape appearing as though covered with snow; some long, sinuous sea fauna that appear to be beckoning ‘Down . . . Down.’ The water is very clear. There are long, thin fish swimming by, their bodies totally white, their immense purple eyes apparently blind, oblivious to Nautile’s lights. A White starfish is discerned.
“Closer now, to the bottom. At an altitude of what seems to be 20 feet, the vehicle begins to move horizontally, cautiously forward, with each meter carefully watched. There is almost total disorientation as to distance, location, and time. But all the while, every move is being carefully choreographed by Nadir’s control room personnel and Nautile’s crew working in concert. Each minute, an onboard plotter electronically queries Nautile’s depth and location and marks the result on the dive chart kept for the mission.
“The sand’s peaceful look is shattered by pieces of wreckage: a large flanged pipe, chunks of twisted metal, other odds and ends, most are unrecognizable for what they were. Ahead, suddenly, the landscape seems to stop. Immediate reaction is that the submersible has reached a place where the bottom drops abruptly into a even deeper chasm. But a closer approach reveals a great black wall, stretching upward beyond sight.
“A thrilling rush of realization is confirmed by the co-pilot’s soft voice, “There’s your ship.”
“About 10 feet away from the wall we start our slow upward journey. The pilot must know this particular part of Titanic’s bow section quite well, as there are regions of the wreck where overhanging beams and other debris would endanger the submersible and her human cargo. “Up . . . Slowly upward, past demarcations of immense steel plating, rivets still firmly in place, remnants of black paint covering all, through corrosion now coats every surface heavily. Upwards, past portholes, glass still intact, some closed, some tilted upwards, until the forward well deck appears beneath our lights; for the first time we can see identifiable portions and detail of the great sunken vessel, bathed in a very pale, bluish-green glow as seawater tints Nautile’s powerful lights. Then, through the neat order of the well deck, one looks for people to populate the scene. One connects 1912 events and Titanic survivors met over the years to the passing tableau.
“The realization of utter silence is next, external, on the deck; internal in an only-now comprehending vision. Silence: complete, unbroken, final. As one continues to gaze in awe at the scene, colors change. The wreck is not a monotonous wash of monochrome: red, orange, brown, tan, grey . . . a profusion of hues and tints. The wreck is alive with color!
“But the silence prevails.
“Our pilot takes us across the well deck. Yes - there are the wenches, the bollards, the yawning hatch openings offering an incredible cutaway view through multiple decks, all heavily covered in red-orange, rust, much heavier than that photographed in 1986 and 1987.
“Robin (the Nautile’s remote camera) is dispatched down the bunker hatch and the numbers one and two cargo holds, seeking evidence of the iceberg’s damage and paths further into the ship. But the robot is blocked by a tangle of debris, broken beams and timbers, and in number one hatch, by mud. Even maneuvering the tiny vehicle through an almost irretrievable pathway through the obstructions, no opening can be found.
“Robin’s small electric propellers occasionally disturb the ever-present rust, creating a red cloud which demands cessation of all movement until visibility and safety return. Nautile remains perfectly balance over the hatch rail, poised within feet of the forward mast, now canted against the ship’s superstructure.
“Soon it’s down to the forward starboard side, to the great opening in the hull that extends from the well deck to G deck. We can look inside and see a portion of the mail sorting room and what appears to be mail sacks stacked inside. Slightly aft is the ladder leading down to No.6 boiler room. We can look inside, we can actually see part of the ship’s interior. Moving upward again and aft along the starboard edge, we approach the forward entrance and its once grand staircase. Again Robin is sent twisting and turning delicately below. There are the chandeliers, just as in the pictures, but this time it’s not a picture! Pirouetting gracefully, its yellow and black tether streaming out behind and its lights barely visible, Robin is far below. The image it is sending back appears to be C deck. If so, can that bulkhead to port be the purser’s cabin?
“This is a long dive. We have about seven hours of bottom time. Departure looms. Robin is retrieved, then locked into position. The pilot wishes to take a final flying tour of the bow section. Forward and up - the wireless cabin’s roof, with its porcelain-clad antenna insulator. Along the starboard side, where the ship’s bandsmen so valiantly played their pathway to eternity. Forward along the starboard boat deck, past the captain’s sitting room. Minutes are fleeting now. We approach the bridge, slowly and from above. Lowering ata sharp angle we pass over the portion of the deckhouse where first officer Murdoch must have stood when he picked up the telephone and heard the fateful words, ‘Iceberg right ahead.’
“Still at an angle, we approach the pedestal of the ship’s wheel, so close that we seem separated from it by only the thickness of the port’s Plexiglass. How that wheel must have spun ‘hard-a-starboard’ under Quartermaster Hichen’s hands as Murdoch vainly tried to hard-a-port around the approaching berg. Nautile’s pilot holds Titanic’s wheel in tight view in what seems to be respect, almost reverence. Then, slowly upward, the wheel fades from view. One last sweep around the forward well deck at a 30 or 40 foot altitude, as though in salute. Then, away! Up! Up!
Currently, Charles is lecturing on the 100th Anniversary Titanic Memorial Cruise aboard the MS Balmoral. This weekend, April 14th and 15th, he will be at the site where the great ship went down.

The 1996 Titanic Expedition: Raising a Piece of the Ship's Hull

“For this extraordinary team of brave scientists and explorers, the expedition represents the pinnacle of our careers. There is no greater legend or mystery of the sea than Titanic. This mission is primary in our lives. So, you can imagine the joy that will be reflected in our faces when we see the ship’s hull re-emerge from the ocean that claimed it 84 years ago.” (George Tulloch, President, R.M.S. Titanic Inc., 1996)
The Titanic Expedition of 1996 was a bold attempt to raise a large section of the Titanic hull from is resting place 2 ½ miles beneath the surface. The portion of the Titanic to be recovered is from the 800 yard wide debris field scattered between the two major sections of the wreck. Cutting a piece off an intact section of the hull was never seriously considered. Aside from the technological difficulties, the public outcry from historical societies and others against it would have been extreme.
During July and August of 1996, a small task force was positioned directly above the wreck of the Titanic. In all there were five surface ships and three submersibles. This included two research vessels, the Nadir and the Ocean Voyager, the deep-salvage ship Kilabuk, the deep ocean submersible Nautile, capable of depths of 20,000 feet, two smaller “rover” submersibles, and two passenger ships - the Royal Majesty out of Boston and the Island Breeze out of New York.

The Nadir and the Nautile were owned by IFREMER (The French Institute of Research for the Exploration of the Sea). Their home port was Toulon, France. Both vessels were on the scene for the 1987, 1993, and 1994 expeditions as well. Many of their crewmen were present when the Titanic was first discovered in 1985. Paul-Henri Nargeolet, from IFREMER, is the overall commander of the expedition.

Additionally, the expedition was covered by French television, NBC, and the Discovery Channel. A small TV studio was constructed on board the Nadir.

The “Chunk”
The piece lies about 75 feet off the stern section of the wreck. It is believed to have come from “C” Deck midway back on the ship’s starboard side between the third and fourth funnels.
The piece is “boot” shaped, roughly 20 feet by 24 feet in area, and is the width of two cabins. Its weight is approximately 15 tons (by official IFREMER estimate) calculated by estimating the surface area and thickness, and using material specification supplied by Harland and Wolff, the Belfast ship yard that originally built the Titanic. The number and length of the beams attached to the hull section will significantly influence the piece’s weight.
The piece is from the top of the hull and carries the paint of the Titanic as it changes from the upper white stripe to the lower black color. The White Star Line trademark gold pinstripe appears intact. It is expected to contain several hundred rivets and have four portholes. There is a large porthole (from the cabin) followed by two smaller portholes, probably from two adjoining bathrooms, then another large porthole from the next cabin. The section enclosed two first class cabins identified as either cabins C79 and C81 or cabins C83 and C85, (the room of Mr. W.T. Stead, a British journalist and social crusader from London).
Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin is on board and very accessible. He has proven to be a man of passionate and vocal views on both space and deep ocean exploration. He is also an experienced scuba diver and will have an opportunity to dive to the Titanic wreck, and report back to us his impressions of the operation. Remarking on the importance of the piece to George Tulloch and R.M.S. Titanic Inc., Buzz was heard to quip “(it’s) a small piece for the Titanic, a great chunk for George” eluding to Neil Armstrong’s famous ‘it’s a small step for a man’ Quote before setting foot onto the surface of the Mon. From that time onward, everyone on board the ship referred to it as the “chunk.”
Those responsible for recovering the “chunk,” however, were less jocular about their charge of raising this fifteen ton object through 2 ½ miles of unruly North Atlantic seawater as evidenced by Paul-Henri Nargeolet’s concern: “Everytime I look at it, it seems bigger . . . Very big, I don’t know about this.” Captain Nargeolet is the expedition’s commander.
The Lifting Procedure (in Theory)
Nothing of this size has ever been raised to the surface from these depths before. Recovery team experts have calculated the weight of the chunk in advance by estimating its surface area and thickness. The “mud slurp” factor (the effect of seabed sediment holding the piece down) can only be guessed at since no one is positive how deeply it is embedded into the bottom.
The simplified procedure is this; six green and red “lift bags” will each be filled with 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the recovery vessel Nadir.
They will be attached to the piece then raise it to the surface. Each bag has a lifting capacity of 3 ½ tons. The bags were made by the French company Pronal and are tested far beyond the strength needed to contain the fuel and there is little risk of environmental damage. If experts have underestimated the weight of the piece relative to the lifting potential of the bags, it will remain on the bottom.
The step-by-step procedure is outlined here:
1. The diesel fuel floatation bags are lowered to the seabed. They will be pulled to the bottom by 25 tons of scrap iron chain. Diesel fuel bags, while still lighter than water, are more maneuverable than air filled bags.
2. The deep sea submersible Nautile has to move each floatation bag into its final position near the piece. The six lift bags will be positioned 40-60 meters away from the piece, some above and some above and to the side. To do this, each bag is made “neutrally buoyant” to ease the maneuvering. By cutting lines hanging from each bag to smaller ballast chains and bags of iron shot, the main ballast can be lifted to a hovering position just off the bottom.
3. Other lines from the bags are attached to the piece. These are secured by looping the lines through openings in the piece, such as a porthole, then connecting the end of the line back onto itself using a ring fastening device.
4. The Nautile backs away from the piece because its owner, IFREMER, doesn’t want their submersible anywhere close when it comes time to yank 15 tons of brittle steel from the sea floor.
5. An acoustic signal is transmitted from the Nadir on the surface to a cylindrical transponder attached to a release mechanism tying the lift bags to their chain ballast below.
6. When the release mechanism activates, the chains are dropped to the bottom, the bags begin to rise pulling the lines and the piece off the bottom.
But this expedition has had more than its share of bad luck. Yesterday, the Nautile reported from the wreck site that the largest of the six lift bags was missing along with 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel. A search was initiated to find the bag but with no success - it was gone. Several smaller bags were taken down and attached to the piece to make up for the lost lifting capacity.
Wednesday, August 28th. Recovery Begins.

The Titanic landed upright on the seabed in two major sections. The bow section, about two-thirds of the ship’s total length, is positioned 800 yards from the stern and rotated 180 degrees pointing at the stern. In between is a debris field littered with thousands of artifacts and small pieces of the ship. Most of the Titanic’s superstructure had been torn off as the ship sank at an ever increasing speed, estimated at exceeding 45 miles per hour when colliding with the bottom. Experts had thought that the Titanic would still be in good condition at these oxygen-less depths, but this is not true. Most of the ship’s wood is gone and she is dissolving at an accelerated pace on the ocean floor. In another generation or two, there may not be anything remaining.
On this morning, however, all things are calm on the ocean surface. We learned that the evening before at 6:45 PM, an attempt was made to lift the piece just off the sea floor in preparation for today’s raising. Unfortunately, two of the lift bags were not deployed because their transponders malfunctioned and didn’t release, holding the bags prisoner on the bottom. The only chance to release them now was to have Nautile’s remote unit, Robin, equipped with a cutting blade and have her slice through the remaining two lines. IFREMER will not allow Nautile to get close enough to the lines for that operation. Three days earlier, Nautile had gotten tangled among some vertical lines and there were a few tense moments. Because the largest lift bag was lost, it was replaced yesterday by two smaller bags.
“The idea is that since Buzz went all the way to the Moon, it would be really cool to take him to the bottom of the ocean. In fact, some people on the ships feel strongly that if only IFREMER would put Buzz in the pilot’s seat, why that ol’ Big Piece would be headed up in no time” (Jim Boyer of the Discovery Channel).
11:00 AM. The Nautile is launched.
The launch crews are so well drilled in their duties that one dive almost exactly resembles another, each crewman in proper position and all eyes in the Dive Command Center, aboard the Nadir, are fixed on computer monitors. Placed on a moveable cradle, the Nautile emerges from its hanger and is gently, but steadily, rolled down a track toward Nadir’s stern. Crewmen in yellow jumpsuits and hard hats walk beside and behind the cradle, closely monitoring every movement.
The pilot, co-pilot, and observer attend to their final preparations before being locked into the submersible for twelve hours. Divers set out from the Nadir in inflatable zodiacs to circle the spot where the Nautile will be set into the water. When Nautile reaches the end of the fantail, a large lift line is secured to her topside. Launches can be hazardous, the 18 tom Nautile can swing wildly even in medium seas. When the submersible reaches the water, Nadir’s engines speed up so that the Nautile will drag behind but not strike the mother ship.
2:00 PM. Communication from the bottom.
The Nautile is now positioned 200 feet from the piece which is now standing upright on the bottom, two of her eight lift bags still tethered to their ballast lying on the sea floor. The remote, Robin, has been dispatched to her slicing mission.
Buzz Aldrin’s live radio communications from the wreck site are broadcast to all ships, “It was very exciting to move up against the piece and see where some of the connections were made . . . the cables going through some of the smaller windows. We then moved up and froze in on the cables and it was like flying formation with one space craft and another, the three dimensional freedom we had in approaching one space craft to another. It is very, very similar to what the Nautile is able to do and I think the crew cooperation and teamwork was just so outstanding. I’ve never seen two people work together so closely and the pilot was able to maneuver (Robin) into position and make the slice and free one lift bag.
“Then we backed away from the buoyancy (of the piece), the lifting devices, the cables, and the transponder so that we would be clear in the event that it lifted off. The vision was so clear it looked like we could just reach out and touch the cables. Unfortunately, our communications says that it is not lifting up so we are standing by. We are going to wait a few minutes then go up and give it another try on the other weights.”
There is no backup if anything goes wrong at this depth. No vessel can come to the rescue. If a bomb could be detonated at this depth, the pressure is so great that it would not explode, it would actually implode. This is why the dives are planned so carefully and rehearsed many times. The Nautile carries oxygen sufficient for three for 72 hours but, if the vessel was stranded on the bottom, the crew would freeze to death before they would run out of air. The temperatures at the wreck site are well below freezing but the currents and high concentration of salts and minerals keep the water flowing. According to Yann Houard, one of the Nautile pilots, “It’s very safe and we don’t think about nightmares, we don’t think about danger. The pressure (on the sea floor) is so high that, if for any reason, the sub had to collapse, it would be very, very quick, half a second or something. We couldn’t see anything, but we know that this couldn’t happen . . . well not for sure.”
4:00 PM. Raising the piece.
George Tulloch nervously prowls the bridge of the Nadir waiting for good news from the bottom, “I wish we had that three ton lift bag (lost two days earlier) but we put a lot more in than we took out, so we’ve given it everything we’ve got.”
Then word comes that both of the remaining lines have been cut and the lift bags are now free to rise to the surface. Whether the released floatation bags will allow the piece to rise has not been determined yet. The submersible crew has seen some movement but it is not clear if it is on its way up. It’s much too early to have a definite answer. SGI tracking has determined that the coordinates are moving slightly, giving a definite raising kind of indication.
Expectations were through the roof, then . . . word comes that the piece has not lifted from the bottom.
“Why is it on the bottom? She (the piece) doesn’t seem to be moving, She seemed to for a second. She was at 3682 (meters) now she’s back to 3701” laments George Tulloch.
5:00 PM.
A single floatation bag became unhooked from the piece, or was cut inadvertently by the Nautile, it’s not completely clear, and surfaces without anything attached. The remaining lift bags are insufficient to raise the piece. While the piece is still near the bottom, as verified by Nautile, it has been dislodged from the ocean floor and rose about 150 meters before settling back down to the bottom.
After a stormy conference aboard the Nadir, Tulloch and Nargeolet announce that another attempt to raise the piece would be made tomorrow. The errant lift bag will be re-prepared immediately and taken to the bottom. The Nautile will dive early the next morning. It will reattach the lift bag, then cut the line holding the bag to the ballast chain.
7:00 PM. The Nautile resurfaces.
Buzz Aldrin and the two sub pilots emerge exhausted and anxious from the day’s events. During post-dive interviews, the confidence and optimism we saw in them this morning was gone. Nonetheless, Buzz was excited by his opportunity to dive in the submersible and get a first-hand look at the wreck. He reported, “This was an out of this world experience. This is one of those most unforgettable moments to be able to experience this. There is a lot of color down there because of the rusting away and the deterioration. The Titanic is what has the color. The rest of the surface is barren except for an occasional fish.
“I think if I had an opportunity to do this again, I would probably try and talk the pilot out of a couple of minutes with the controls just to get the experience of being able to move in three dimensions. It is very similar to flying one space craft close to another.”
His assessment as to the second attempt tomorrow: “less than a 50/50 chance of bringing up the piece on Thursday.” 
Thursday, August 29th. A second attempt.

Yesterday’s disappointments have given way to new hope for today’s attempt. This morning’s seas are a little more turbulent than yesterday, and in the back of everyone’s mind is the knowledge that Hurricane Eduard is racing to join them.
If the Nautile could descend by 8:00 AM, and if it reaches the wreck site by 9:45 AM, and if ballast holding the lift bags on the bottom could be released acoustically or cut free by 11:00 AM, then we might see the piece surface about noon today. A lot of “ifs.”
The Nautile is an hour behind schedule; it descends ay 9:00 AM. At 12:30 PM, a ship’s announcement brings encouragement as progress is being reported at the wreck site. One hour later, the errant lift bag has been reattached to the piece and the Nautile’s crew is busily cutting the lines holding the bag on the bottom.
2:45 PM.
Communication from the Nautile indicates that the piece is no longer on the bottom. The atmosphere becomes electric on the ships. Captain Nargeolet calculates that it should arrive just below the surface at 3:15 PM.
At just about that exact time, lift bags appear off the port bow of the Royal Majesty, 300 yards ahead of the ship. “Now with the bags up, some 2,000 people on the various ships have suddenly become very close to this mission. The railings are lined with hundreds of people. Everyone is cheering” (Jim Boyer, The Discovery Channel).
The Nadir is the first to approach the bags, followed quickly by the Canadian deep sea salvage ship, the Kilabuk. The piece is approximately 150 meters below the surface. Divers on zodiacs are dispatched to check the lines attached to the piece. Two then three zodiacs approach, they circle the bobbing balloons and drop off divers. The piece is suspended from lines with a combined holding capacity of 60 tons. But nowhere to be seen is the primary recovery line supposed to have been rigged by the Nautile at the bottom. This is the critical line by which the Kilabuk could reel in the piece. The Kilabuk has more than enough power for the job, but it needs something to pull on. The piece was heavier than expected and is taking a beating in the now very rough sea.
Even without the primary recovery line, an attempt will be made to bring the piece aboard. The crew of the Kilabuk lowers large cables into the water for divers to attach. The massive roller at the stern of the Kilabuk begins to turn winching up the lines. Several lift bags are towed aside by crews on the zodiacs.
Then a knot surfaced in one of the lines. The knot tightened on the stern roller, and then the rope broke with enough force to cut a person in half. The Kilabuk’s captain, Mike Strong, was close enough to feel the concussion when it snapped. Another hour passes as larger ropes are dragged to stern to be attached by the divers.
New problems arise. The leading edge of Hurricane Eduard is now approaching the recovery site. The seas become very treacherous.
The Kilabuk winched the piece 35 meters closer to the surface, leaving three of the lift bags attached but supporting no weight. The stern roller wasn’t turning, and the ropes began to melt with the intense friction. Divers once again went down, this time to 51 meters - the legal limit o commercial air diving - and still couldn’t find the only solid thing that could bear the entire load, the ring connecting all the lift lines.
5:00 PM.
The piece is close to dropping, decisions must be made. Tulloch, Nargeolet, and Strong confer at the stern of the Kilabuk.
“There is another alternative,” Mike Strong says, “it’s scary . . .  we could tow the piece slowly in towards . . .”
“Into shallow water,” Nargeolet interrupts, finishing the sentence.
“Where would you go? Halifax?” an anxious George Tulloch asks.
“No . . . the nearest point of land, the nearest point,” Strong replies.
“Sixty miles to the north,” volunteers Nargeolet, already thinking of the Grand Banks off the Newfoundland coast.
“What happens after is that we can take more risk with heaving it up, if we lose it, we’ve lost it in 100 meters,” says Strong.
“That’s true. Let’s do it,” responds Tulloch.
And the decision has been made.
At 8:30 PM, there is another announcement: There has been no change in the recovery situation; no updates have been received from the expedition. The piece is holding at a depth of 120 meters. The storm will soon make the seas too unstable to remain. Several of the ships depart.
Friday, August 30th.

Five hours after we departed, at about 2:30 AM, the seas became very unstable back at the recovery site. The Kilabuk was unable to raise the piece any further. She was towing the piece toward shallow water in the heavy seas. Captain Mike Strong was nearly washed overboard but survived.
There were four lines holding the piece. Each rope had to have an equal bearing of weight. If one rope breaks, you get a chain reaction and they all break
The Kilabuk was about 60 miles from the shallower fishing banks of Newfoundland when one line holding the piece snapped. The other lines followed in sequence and the piece sunk approximately 10 miles from where it was raised. One or more of the floatation bags and a transponder are still attached so the location has been pinpointed. The Nautile will be launched as soon as it is safe to do so to investigate the condition of the piece. The recovery window has now closed until next Spring.
“The greatest tragedy in the world is to give up,” says George Tulloch, “and we haven’t given up. The piece will remain on the bottom until next year and another expedition.”