Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Titanic Centennial and James P. Delgado's "Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine"

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous RMS Titanic sinking. On April 15, 1912 over 1,500 people, passengers and crew members, died tragically as the Titanic plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an unseen iceberg.

The New York Times recently highlighted recurring interest in the site. Cruise ships still sail to the precise spot in the Atlantic where the ship went down.
The down side to these fascinating excursions? The site is becoming littered.

“It could get real crowded out there,” said James P. Delgado, director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Despite the legitimacy of wide public interest, he added, “there are some things that shouldn’t happen,” like dumping trash and leaving behind equipment.”

Delgado heads the NOAA division responsible for monitoring the Titanic site. He is also author of the forthcoming book, The Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine (Texas A&M University Press, March). In 2001 while vacationing on Panama’s Pacific coast, the maritime archaeologist came upon the hulk of a mysterious iron vessel. Locals did not know where it had come from. Some said it was the remains of a sunken Japanese “suicide” submarine from World War II. Others said it was a poison-laden “craft of death” responsible for the pearl beds decades before.
Upon investigating the hulk further, Delgado discovered it was the remains of one of the first successful deep-diving submersibles, built in 1864 by Julius H. Kroehl. The invention ultimately led to Kroehl’s demise.

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