The Titanic sinking while people in life boats stand by

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CCSS

R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.6, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4,L.6

Searching for the Titanic

Could the most famous shipwreck in history ever be found? 

Before You Read: Check out our Background Builder slideshow

 

It was April 14, 1912. 

Bettmann/Getty Images

    The Titanic sped across the Atlantic Ocean. The sky glittered with stars. The sea was as still as glass. 

    This was the Titanic’s first voyage, but already the ship was famous. It was big, beautiful, and built from the strongest steel. Many believed it to be “unsinkable.” 

    Until . . . disaster struck.

    At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic hit a huge iceberg. The ship’s thick metal side tore open. Icy seawater flooded the ship. The Titanic was doomed. There weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board. More than 1,500 people died.

    Less than three hours later, the Titanic disappeared into the black waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Would it ever be seen again?

    The Titanic sped across the Atlantic Ocean. The sky glittered with stars. The sea was as still as glass.  

    This was the Titanic’s first voyage. But the ship was already famous. It was big, beautiful, and built from strong steel. People said it was “unsinkable.”

    Until . . . disaster struck.

    At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic hit a huge iceberg. The ship’s thick metal side tore open. Cold seawater rushed in. The Titanic was doomed. There weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone. More than 1,500 people died.

    Less than three hours later, the ship disappeared into the North Atlantic Ocean. Would it ever be seen again?

    The Titanic sped across the Atlantic Ocean. The sky glittered with stars. The sea was as still as glass. 

    This was the Titanic’s first voyage, but already the ship was famous. It was big, beautiful, and built from the strongest steel. Many believed it to be “unsinkable.”

    Until . . . disaster struck.

    At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic hit a massive iceberg. The ship’s thick metal side tore open, and icy seawater rushed in. The Titanic was doomed. There weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board. More than 1,500 people died.

    Less than three hours later, the Titanic disappeared into the black waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Would it ever be seen again?

Science History Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Welcome to the Titanic  
The ship’s richest travelers used a grand staircase like this one. Guests were amazed by its carved wood and other details.

Beyond Reach

    The news of the Titanic disaster shocked the world. People wanted the ship to be found. Some families hoped their loved ones had survived inside the wreck. 

    But the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean. It was under more than 2 miles of water. No person could survive in water so deep—even if they had air to breathe. 

    That’s because of something called water pressure. Water pressure is the force of water pushing against the body from all directions. As water gets deeper, water pressure becomes stronger. Lungs can’t breathe. Blood can’t flow. Hearts can’t beat. 

    This is why humans had never explored the deep sea. The Titanic seemed lost forever.

    The Titanic disaster shocked the world. People wanted the ship to be found. Some hoped their loved ones had survived inside the wreck.

    But the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean. It was under more than 2 miles of water. No person could survive in water so deep, even if they had air to breathe.

    That’s because of water pressure. Water pressure is the force of water pushing against the body from all sides. As water gets deeper, water pressure gets stronger. Lungs can’t breathe. Blood can’t flow. Hearts can’t beat.

    This is why humans had never explored the deep sea. The Titanic seemed lost forever.

    The news of the Titanic disaster shocked the world. People wanted the ship to be found. Some families hoped their loved ones had survived inside the wreck.

    But the Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean, under more than 2 miles of water. No person could survive in water so deep—even if they had air to breathe.

    That’s because of water pressure, the force of water pushing against the body from all directions. As water gets deeper, water pressure increases. Lungs can’t breathe. Blood can’t flow. Hearts can’t beat.

    For this reason, humans had never explored the deep sea—and so the Titanic seemed lost forever.

George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Take a Swim  
The Titanic was one of the first ships to have a pool on board. Passengers passed time by swimming laps in the heated water.

Human-Sized Worms

John B. Carnett/Bonnier Corporation via Getty Images

    As time went by, new inventions helped people explore the ocean. In 1960, two scientists climbed into a tiny submarine called a “submersible.” They went 7 miles down in the Pacific Ocean.  

    The men didn’t see much. It was almost pitch-black underwater. But their submersible was strong. They made it back alive—and inspired many people. 

    One of those inspired people was Robert Ballard. He grew up to become an oceanographer—a scientist who studies the sea. By the late 1970s, Ballard had spent more time in submersibles than any other human. On his journeys, he found amazing wonders. He saw eyeless fish and human-sized worms. 

    But there was something else Ballard wanted to find: the Titanic.

    Over time, new inventions helped people explore the ocean. In 1960, two scientists got into a tiny submarine called a “submersible.” They went 7 miles down in the Pacific Ocean.  

    The men didn’t see much. It was dark underwater. But they made it back alive. And they inspired many people.

    One person they inspired was Robert Ballard. He grew up to become an oceanographer. That’s a scientist who studies the sea. By the late 1970s, he had spent a lot of time in submersibles. 

    On his journeys, he saw amazing things. He saw fish that had no eyes. He saw human-sized worms.

    But there was something else Ballard wanted to find: the Titanic.

    As time went by, new inventions helped make ocean exploration possible. In 1960, two scientists climbed into a tiny submarine called a “submersible” and traveled 7 miles down in the Pacific Ocean.  

    The men couldn’t see much in the nearly pitch-black depths of the ocean, but their strong submersible kept them safe. They made it back to the surface alive—and inspired many people.

    One of those inspired people was Robert Ballard. He grew up to become an oceanographer—a scientist who studies the sea. By the late 1970s, Ballard had spent more time in submersibles than any other human. He found astonishing wonders, including eyeless fish and human-sized worms, on his undersea journeys.

    But there was something Ballard especially wanted to find: the Titanic.

CPA Media Pte Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

A Feast at Every Meal  
Guests enjoyed 10-course meals in a beautiful dining room while live music played. Expensive foods like oysters and steak were on the menu.

Deep Underwater

    In 1977, Ballard and a small team set out for the North Atlantic to look for the Titanic. Hopes were high. But just days into the voyage, a huge piece of Ballard’s ship plunged into the sea. He had no choice but to return home.

    Ballard wanted to try again. But it was hard to get more money for another trip. So he decided to focus on another dream he had.  

    For years, Ballard had wanted to create a better way to explore the deep sea. Submersibles let scientists like Ballard go deep underwater. But the trips were dangerous, and the submersibles could stay down for only a few hours at a time. 

    Ballard had a new idea. He wanted to build a remote-controlled submersible. This one wouldn’t need a human to go inside. Also, it would be covered with cameras. It would take pictures and videos that scientists could watch from a ship above.

    In 1977, Ballard and a small team set out for the North Atlantic to look for the Titanic. Hopes were high. But just days into the journey, a piece of Ballard’s ship plunged into the sea. He had to go home.

    Ballard wanted to try again. But he didn’t have enough money. So he decided to work on something else.  

    Ballard wanted a better way to explore the deep sea. Scientists could go deep underwater in submersibles. But the trips were dangerous. And the submersibles could stay down for only a few hours.

    Ballard decided to build a remote-controlled submersible. It wouldn’t need a human to go inside. And it would be covered with cameras. It would take pictures and videos that scientists could watch from a ship above.

    In 1977, Ballard and a small team set out for the North Atlantic to search for the Titanic. Hopes were high. But only days into the voyage, a huge piece of Ballard’s ship plunged into the sea, forcing the team to return home.

    Ballard wanted to try again, but it was difficult to get the money he would need for another attempt. Instead, he decided to concentrate on a different goal.  

    For years, Ballard had wanted to create a safer, more effective way to explore the deep sea. Submersibles allowed scientists like Ballard to go deep underwater—but the trips were dangerous, and the submersibles could stay down for only a few hours at a time.

    Ballard wanted to build a remote-controlled submersible that would carry cameras, not people, deep underwater. His invention would take pictures and videos that scientists could watch from a ship above.

Science History Images/Alamy Stock Photo 

Snooze in Style  
The fanciest cabins, or rooms, cost $100,000 in today’s money! They had running water—which most ships didn’t have in 1912.

A New Tool

Jim McMahon/Mapman ® 

    Ballard and his team got to work on the submersible, which they called Argo. But Ballard hadn’t forgotten about the Titanic. In 1984, he decided to try again to find the shipwreck. 

    On August 24, 1985, Ballard and his team were back on a ship in the North Atlantic. This time they had Argo. They sent Argo down to the bottom of the ocean. Its cameras clicked. 

    In a ship above, Ballard and his team watched as images appeared on the screen. Argo worked perfectly!

    In the coming days, Argo took pictures and videos of many things. There were huge holes in the sea bottom. There were plants that could grow without light. But unfortunately, there was no sign of the Titanic.

    Ballard and his team worked on the submersible, which they called Argo. But Ballard still wanted to find the Titanic. He decided to try again.

    On August 24, 1985, Ballard and his team were back on a ship in the North Atlantic. This time they had Argo

    They sent Argo to the bottom of the ocean. Its cameras clicked.

    In a ship above, the team watched as images appeared on the screen. Argo worked!

    In the coming days, Argo took pictures and videos of many things. There were huge holes in the sea bottom. There were plants that could grow without light. But there was no sign of the Titanic.

    Even as Ballard and his team worked on the new submersible—which they called Argo—Ballard continued to think about the Titanic. In 1984, he decided to make another attempt to find the shipwreck.

    On August 24, 1985, Ballard and his team were once again on a ship in the North Atlantic—but this time, they had Argo. They sent Argo down to the bottom of the ocean. Its cameras clicked.

    In a ship above, Ballard and his team watched as images appeared on the screen. Argo worked perfectly!

    In the coming days, Argo took pictures and videos of many marvels, such as huge holes in the sea bottom and plants that could grow without light. But unfortunately, there was no sign of the Titanic.

© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Super Submersible
To search for the Titanic, Ballard created a new kind of submersible. He called it Argo. It could be controlled from afar and was loaded with cameras and powerful lights.

Ship of Dreams

    On September 1, 1985, Ballard went to his room to rest. He felt discouraged. Soon they’d have to return home. Was this trip going to end like the first, in failure?

    He had just gotten into bed when he was called back to the control room. On the screen was a huge metal object. Ballard’s heart pounded. He knew what he was looking at: part of the Titanic’s engine. They had done it! 

    In the coming days, Ballard and the team would make dazzling discoveries. The biggest one: The ship had cracked in half just before it sank. Debris was scattered for more than a mile. They found dishes, shoes, and jewels on the seafloor. 

    But Ballard didn’t take any of those treasures. He explored the shipwreck of the Titanic but left it untouched. He wanted to always honor the memory of those who had lost their lives on that starlit night in 1912. 

    On September 1, 1985, Ballard went to his room to rest. He felt discouraged. Soon they would have to go home. Would this trip end like the first, in failure?

    Then he was called back to the control room. On the screen, he saw a huge metal object. It was part of the Titanic’s engine. Ballard’s heart pounded. They had done it!

    After that, the team made many discoveries. The biggest one: The ship had cracked in half before it sank. Debris was scattered for more than a mile. They found dishes, shoes, and jewels on the seafloor.

    Ballard explored the wreck. But he didn’t take any of the treasures. He left the wreck untouched. He wanted to honor the memory of those who had lost their lives on that starlit night in 1912. •

    On September 1, 1985, a very discouraged Ballard went to his room to rest. Soon he and the team would have to return home. Was this trip to the North Atlantic going to end like the first, in failure?

    He had just gotten into bed when he was called back to the control room. On the screen was a huge metal object. Ballard’s heart pounded as he realized he was looking at part of the Titanic’s engine. They had done it!

    Over the following days, Ballard and the team made dazzling discoveries. The most important was that the ship had cracked in half just before it sank. Debris was scattered for more than a mile. They found dishes, shoes, and jewels on the seafloor.

    But Ballard didn’t remove any of those treasures from the ocean floor. He explored the shipwreck of the Titanic but left it untouched. He wanted to always honor the memory of the people who had lost their lives on that starlit night in 1912. •

John Lamparski/WireImage (Cup); Matt Cardy/Getty Images (watch); Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images (Binoculars); Tim Ireland/PA Wire/AP (keys)

Titanic's Tresures  
Ballard never took anything from the wreck. He wanted it to stay as it was. But in later years, other explorers removed thousands of objects—including these.

ACTIVITY: 
Finding Text Evidence

You’ve just read “Searching for the Titanic.” Now do this activity to help you better understand the article.

Tip: Text evidence means details in a story that support an answer or show that it is true.

What to do: Use text evidence—or details from the article—to answer the questions below. We did the first one for you.

You’ve just read “Searching for the Titanic.” Now do this activity to help you better understand the article.

Tip: Text evidence means details in a story that support an answer or show that it is true.

What to do: Use text evidence—or details from the article—to answer the questions below. We did the first one for you.

You’ve just read “Searching for the Titanic.” Now do this activity to help you better understand the article.

Tip: Text evidence means details in a story that support an answer or show that it is true.

What to do: Use text evidence—or details from the article—to answer the questions below. We did the first one for you.

Why was the wreck of the Titanic beyond reach in 1912?

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Beyond Reach.”

Answer: In 1912, the wreck of the Titanic was out of reach because there was no way for people to explore the deepest parts of the sea.

Why was the wreck of the Titanic beyond reach in 1912?

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Beyond Reach.”

Answer: In 1912, the wreck of the Titanic was out of reach because there was no way for people to explore the deepest parts of the sea.

Why was the wreck of the Titanic beyond reach in 1912?

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Beyond Reach.”

Answer: In 1912, the wreck of the Titanic was out of reach because there was no way for people to explore the deepest parts of the sea.

How did two scientists travel deep down in the ocean in 1960? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Human-Sized Worms.”

How did two scientists travel deep down in the ocean in 1960? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Human-Sized Worms.”

How did two scientists travel deep down in the ocean in 1960? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Human-Sized Worms.”

What new tool did Robert Ballard invent? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “A New Tool.”

What new tool did Robert Ballard invent? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “A New Tool.”

What new tool did Robert Ballard invent? 

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “A New Tool.”

What did Ballard find in 1985?

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Ship of Dreams.”

What did Ballard find in 1985?

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Ship of Dreams.”

What did Ballard find in 1985?

HINT: Look for the answer in the section “Ship of Dreams.”

Think About It! What do your answers tell you about how ocean exploration has changed since 1912?

Think About It! What do your answers tell you about how ocean exploration has changed since 1912?