Journey to the Titanic

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A century after the RMS Titanic sank 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland on its maiden voyage, it remains the best-known disaster at sea.

Shortly after midnight on April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg on its way to New York City from Southhampton, England. Less than three hours later, at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, the Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, killing more than 1,500 people.

The great ship was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world at the time, and was considered unsinkable. Many of those who died in the disaster were from the most prominent families in Europe and America. Countless books, movies and theories about the sinking of the Titanic have cemented its legend.

See photos from our journey to the wreck and recently recovered objects below.

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows a cherub that once adorned the grand staircase of the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy, on display. The piece along with 5,000 other artifacts will be auctioned as a single collection on April 11, 2012 100 years after the sinking of the ship. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows a chandalier from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows a ring from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc., shows a bracelet from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc., shows a plate and cup from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows a hat from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows a ships telegraph from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc.)

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This image provided by RMS Titanic, Inc. shows a porthole from the RMS Titanic which was recovered from the ocean floor during an expedition to the site of the tragedy. (AP Photo/RMS Titanic, Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc.)

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This Russian-built three-man submarine will take Derrick, his producer John D'Amelio and the submarine operator down to the bottom of the sea. Most submarines dive a few hundred feet down. The Mir 2 is built to withstand the extreme pressures of diving 13,000 feet.

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Derrick looks out over the Atlantic Ocean as the ship speeds towards the location of the shipwreck, 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

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A giant crane releases the submarine into the water above the wreck, while a crewmember in a wet suit leaps from a small boat to the top of the submersible to release it from the ship.

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The exploratory submarine heads towards the shipwreck. The wreck of the Titanic was discovered on Sept. 1, 1985, lying 13,000 feet down in two pieces on the ocean floor.

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Derrick observes the changing scenery from a porthole in the Mir 2. The inside of the submarine is cramped, and gets colder and colder as the vessel descends further towards the ocean floor. The Titanic is about 2 1/2 miles below the surface of the sea, and the descent takes approximately 2 hours.

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Here's the bow of the ship, seen so often in movies and books. The bow is shrouded in rusticles-- colonies of microscopic metal-eating organisms. The Titanic is rapidly disintegrating, and scientists say the ship may disappear entirely in the next decade or so.

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This is the steering column of the Titanic, where Captain Edward John Smith stood to steer the ship. The wooden steering wheel has long disintegrated, but the column remains. Nearby, bouquets of flowers, plaques and even a small American flag brought down by shipwreck explorers lie in tribute.

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A mass of mangled metal engine parts from the Titanic lie in a heap on the ocean floor.

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A metal pot from the ship lies untouched on the ocean floor. Debris from the Titanic cover a wide field around the ship. Many artifacts have been brought up by scientists exploring the wreck.

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A passenger's suitcase sits forlornly on the ocean floor. After nine decades in the ocean water, a surprising number of artifacts have been found intact.

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A robotic arm reaches for an artifact submerged in the sand. Salvagers bring up all the artifacts from the Titanic using the robot arms of the submersibles. Some of the items found near or on the wreck are so delicate that they crumble when touched by the arms.

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Derrick smiles in relief on emerging from the Mir 2. The underwater journey to the Titanic took 12 hours in a cramped, bathroom-less submarine, and was extremely treacherous. If anything went wrong while they were two miles down, there was little hope of rescue-- and on this trip, one side of the submarine lost power while on the bottom of the sea.

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Crewmembers remove a porthole from the ship from the robotic arms of the submarine-- one of the few items that didn't fall apart as they attempted to retrieve it from the ocean floor.

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Here's one of the artifacts retrieved from the wreck of the Titanic. This shirt is part of a set of clothing and other personal effects found in surprisingly good condition near the shipwreck. The monogram "S.I.M." was found stitched in all the clothing of this set.

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This is a shot of shoes of a Titanic passenger, found with the clothing. About 1,500 people died on the night of April 15, 1912. Because of the tragedy, new international laws went into effect requiring an equal number of lifeboats to the number of passengers on board-- something that had not been in place when the Titanic set sail.

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Jessica Kumari talks with the great, great-granddaughter of a survivor.

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