Unseen footage of first dive to Titanic wreck to be released tonight

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Footage from the initial dive to the Titanic wreck will be aired for the first time 37 years on.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and French exploration organisation IFREMER discovered the final resting place of the sunken ship in 1985 using a towed underwater camera.

A WHOI team, led by Robert Ballard, returned to the site nine months later in 1986 and completed the first-ever dive there.

Now, more than 80 minutes of the footage they recorded will be published at around 7.30pm tonight on the WHOI’s YouTube channel.

A short, dramatic clip has been released beforehand, showing clear imagery of the famous ship.

The video release is in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of James Cameron’s famous film, which was released on February 10, 1997.

The remarkable dive was a dream come true for Mr Ballard, who had ‘wanted to find the Titanic all his life’.

He started trying to achieve this three years before the wreck was discovered – while he was a US naval intelligence officer and oceanographer trying to develop his own remote-control underwater vehicle.

When he started running out of funding he asked the US Navy’s deputy chief of operations, Ronald Thunman, for help.

Mr Thunman was initially ‘taken aback’ at the request during a ‘serious, top secret operation’, he previously told CBS News.

But the pair agreed the Navy would help fund the quest to find the wreck if Mr Ballard used the time diving to locate two nuclear submarines which went missing in the Atlantic in the 1960s.

They had to trick the Soviet Union into thinking the Navy was just searching for the Titanic.

It took Mr Ballard longer to find the submarines than expected, so he only had 12 days at the end of the secret mission to find the Titanic. But he managed it in eight.

The wreck was eventually discovered 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, on September 1, 1985 – 73 years after it sank in 1912.

Around 1,500 people died during the ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City.

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