WASHINGTON (March 19, 2012)—National Geographic magazine is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of R.M.S. Titanic on April 15, 1912, with a cover story in its April 2012 issue plus a personal essay by filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron.
The cover story, by Hampton Sides, documents how new technologies have revealed the most complete — and most intimate — images of the famous wreck. The issue includes a tear-out poster of a sonar survey map of the Titanic site — a meticulously stitched-together mosaic of high-resolution images using sonar data, which took months to construct. The images were captured by three state-of-the-art robotic vehicles that flew at various altitudes above the wreck site in long, pre-programmed swaths. High-definition optical cameras snapped hundreds of images a second.
In his essay, Cameron reflects on his “out-of-body”-like experiences exploring the ship, deck by deck and room by room, as he guided a tiny remotely operated vehicle within the Titanic‘s labyrinthine interior from a submersible resting on the ship’s upper deck. “After 33 dives to the wreck, averaging 14 hours each, I have spent more time on the ship than Captain Smith himself did,” he writes.
National Geographic’s association with the Titanic began in September 1985, when Dr. Robert Ballard, using National Geographic Society-designed technologies, discovered the wreck in the North Atlantic. National Geographic photographer Emory Kristof documented the event. After his return, Ballard gave his first press conference on the find from National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. Pushing deadlines to the limit, National Geographic magazine staff got out a major package on the discovery in the December 1985 issue (“How We Found the Titanic”). It was the first in a cascade of related articles and television programs. The following year Ballard returned to the site and recounted his experiences in “A Long Last Look at Titanic,” in the December 1986 issue. That was followed by “Epilogue for Titanic,” which appeared in the October 1987 issue. More articles would follow in the years to come, including “Titanic Revisited,” by Ballard in December 2004.
A number of National Geographic Titanic-related films have been produced, including “Secrets of the Titanic” and “Titanic: How It Really Sank.”
Ballard authored “Return to Titanic: A New Look at the World’s Most Famous Ship,” which was published by National Geographic Books. A National Geographic children’s reader, “Titanic,” was also published.
National Geographic Channel will mark the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking with two world-premiere films featuring Cameron and Ballard. “Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron” assembles the world’s leading experts on the Titanic for the ultimate forensic investigation into the science behind what sank the unsinkable ship on her maiden voyage. In “Save the Titanic with Bob Ballard,” the iconic explorer retraces the steps of the people who set sail on that fateful journey and renews his quest to protect the legacy and the graveyard of the Titanic for another 100 years. Both films will premiere in April 2012.
In addition, National Geographic will commemorate the anniversary with a robust online hub; an eBook offering dramatic new insights into the disaster; a children’s book; apps; games; a DVD box set of the classic National Geographic documentary “Secrets of the Titanic”; a lecture by Ballard at National Society headquarters on Tuesday, April 10; and a new map detailing the ship’s route and wreck site and featuring diagrams, photos and information on the ship, its passengers and history.
Note to Editors: Hampton Sides, author of the National Geographic April cover story on the Titanic, is available for interviews.