In-depth exploration of Titanic at next historical society talk

By Jackie Hanusey - Shore News Today

Tom Maddox of Estell Manor, the owner of East Coast Diving in Northfield, will share his experience of being one of the last divers to see the Titanic during a Greate Egg Harbour Historical Society presentation 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Egg Harbor Township Community Center.

In was in 2005 that Maddox went with a crew filming the special “Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces” for The History Channel.

The opportunity of a lifetime to see the legendary shipwreck on the bottom of the ocean came by way of a diving student from 20 years ago, David Concannon, who went on to become a lawyer for James Cameron, producer and director for the film “Titanic.”

Fewer than 120 people have seen Titanic since it was found in 1985 about 2½ miles down on the Atlantic Ocean floor.

“It’s kind of like outer space,” he said. ‘Very few people can say they have gone there.” After they arrived on the wreck site, it took some time to get to their ultimate destination.

It takes 2½ hours to descend to the bottom where they can explore for seven hours before another two-hour journey back to the surface. Only three submersibles can stand the pressure at the depths of Titanic, and its close quarters. “Three people are in a 6-foot sphere for over 12 hours,” Maddox said about the experience.

He said a lot goes through your mind on such a trip.  “You think about how you pass the point of no return,” he said, noting that after a certain point if one thing goes wrong with the sub, you would be crushed to death in moments.

There are also emotions one feels. “Even on the ship over top of her, there is also an eerie feeling that some type of hell happened there one night,” he said. “You can feel the screams and the panic.”

Maddox’s role during the expedition was to videotape the bow of the ship. “When you are down there you see first hand life jackets, ones that people either didn’t get on or someone was in it,” he said.

You also see the divides of the various classes still down there in the ruins. “The biggest remainders in the debris field are toilets, cups and saucers,” he said, noting that porcelain does not wither away in the water. 

You also see the remainders of third class, as he saw chamber pots or bedpans, which passengers would have used on the bottom of the ocean.

While a man in scuba gear can only safely dive about 130 feet, Maddox said he still felt the urge to “crawl out the window” at times, wishing he could touch and feel what was going on outside. Beyond knowing the ship was the reason for going to sea, Titanic’s influences are everywhere when on the expedition, right down to the emergency drill you have to do first.



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