The British merchant steamship SS Mesaba sent a warning radio message to the Titanic while crossing the Atlantic on April 15, 1912. The message was received by the Titanic — which was advertised as unsinkable — but never reached the ship’s main control center.
Later that night, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. More than 1,500 people died in one of the world’s most notorious shipwrecks.
The Mesaba continued as a merchant ship until it was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1918 while in convoy. Twenty people died, including the ship’s commander.
Its exact location was unknown for more than a century, but scientists have now located the ruins of Mesaba using multibeam sonar. The offshore survey tool uses sound waves to enable mapping of the sea floor in such detail that the superstructure can be revealed in sonar images, allowing researchers from Bangor University and Bournemouth University in the UK to positively identify shipwrecks in the Irish Sea.
This is the first time researchers have been able to locate and positively identify the wreckage, according to a news release.
‘pieces of the jigsaw’
Michael Roberts, a marine geoscientist at Bangor University in Wales, led the gold survey at the university’s School of Ocean Science.
For several years, he has been working with the marine renewable energy sector to study the impact of the ocean on energy-generating infrastructure. Shipwrecks have proven to be a valuable source of information in this field.
“We knew there were a lot of shipwrecks in our backyard in the Irish Sea,” Roberts told CNN on Wednesday, adding that they could provide “useful insight into what happens to the bottom of the ocean.”
On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.
But when Roberts began working with Ines McCartney, a marine archaeologist and research fellow at Bangor University, the “pieces of the jigsaw” began to fit together.
“McCartney was really interested in applying that technology to identify shipwrecks,” Roberts said. The team of researchers began to delve deeper into the unsolved mystery to “tease out their stories”.
“Previously we were able to dive to a few sites a year to identify wrecks. (The purpose-built research vessel) Prince Madog’s unique sonar capabilities have enabled us to create a relatively low-cost way of examining wrecks. This is accompanied by historical data without expensive physical interaction with each site. Connect,” McCartney added in the release.
Roberts said each wreck cost between £800 ($855) and £1,000 ($1,070) to discover and identify.
A ‘game-changer’ for marine archaeology.
A total of 273 shipwrecks have been found by Prince Madog spread over 7,500 square miles of the Irish Sea – an area roughly the size of Slovenia.
The wrecks were scanned and cross-referenced against the UK Hydrographic Office wreck database and other sources.
Many of the newly identified ruins, including Mesaba, were misidentified in the past, the researchers said.
McCartney described the multibeam sonar technique as “a ‘game-changer’ for marine archaeology”, allowing historians to use the data it provides to fill gaps in their understanding.
The Prince Madog, a Bangor University survey ship, leaves its berth at Menai Bridge, Anglesey, North Wales in 2016.
David Roberts/Bangor University
Prince Madog was commissioned by Bangor University and operated and operated by offshore service provider OS Energy. This “really allows us to go out for up to 10 days at a time and go dot-to-dot between ships,” Roberts said. “We were doing 15, 20, 25 wrecks a day. It’s the ship that underpins everything.”
The technology the ship uses has the potential to be as useful to marine archaeologists as the use of aerial photography by archaeologists on land, according to the release.
“A lot of these wrecks are in deep water. There’s no light, so you can’t see much,” Roberts said. “If a diver could go down and swim the length of the wreck — they’d never get the kind of images we can because of the scale of these things. There’s so much sediment that you can’t see everything.”
“So it’s a way to really effectively visualize something you can’t see with the naked eye — something like an ultrasound during pregnancy, using sound.”
While technology has the potential to uncover the stories of all these lost ships, Roberts added that researchers are also examining these wreck sites to “better understand how objects on the ocean floor interact with physical and biological processes, which can help scientists support ocean energy.” Development and growth of the sector.”
Details of all the wreckage are revealed in a new book by McCartney, “Echoes from the Deep.”
Top image: In 1918 the SS Mesaba was torpedoed while in convoy, six years after trying to warn the Titanic of icebergs.