On March 1, 2020, second episode of the "Shipwreck Secrets", of the Discovery Science TV-channel in the United States, was broadcast (will be on screen also in the rest of the world in the coming months). This second episode of the six-part series, introduces the history of the sinking of his majesty's hired trannsport vessel HMHT JUSTICIA (converted from the dutch ocean liner STATENDAM) and an on-site analysis of the wreckage off the Atlantic coast of Donegal, Ireland.
The president of our association, Dr. Tamás Balogh, who launched his book on the history of the ship at the Harland & Wolff Shipyard in Belfast in 2018, and as a result, he was invited to participate in the contribution to the production of the film. The exciting expedition and filmmaking took place in May 2019, followed by the post-production was resulted a one-hour film, which was presented to those interested on March 1, 2020.
Figure 1: Logo of the TV-series, poster of the second episode, and a scene (source: Shipwreck Secrets).
The most important result of the work is that 100 years after the ship sank, the first complete and comprehensive survey of the wrecksite was completed. The exact resting place of the wreck has been identified by the divers Norman and Simon Bamford, and Leight Bishop, a well-known underwater photographer, has regularly captured great underwater photographs from the mid-1990s, which have made the ship widely known since 1998. Some details, such as the bow, were captured on iconic images and inspired dozens of divers, but little was known about the ship as a whole.
At least a comprehensive picture of the wrecksite as a whole was obtained when the first SONAR image of the wrecksite was taken in 2005 as part of the Irish National Seabed Survey. This image showed mainly the spatial location of the wreckage and the depth data, showing the lowest and highest elevations of the wreck with a color scale. Although all details are missing from this picture, some basic facts (as compared to previous close-ups made by the scuba divers) have become clear. It turned out, for example, that the ship, which is in the way of strong sea currents, had collapsed and that the once 237 m long, 26 m wide hull was scattered over a wrecksite of about 300 m long and a good 50 m wide. The currents, for example, swept the superstructure to the left side of the ship, and today only parts of the hull below the former waterline remained more or less intact. Everything else was broken into small pieces, turning the magnificent ocean liner into a jigsaw puzzle.
Figure 2: The SONAR image of the wreck and the main features it identifies, showing the environmental conditions leading to the collapse and the process of it (source: Dr. Tamás Balogh, using the Sonar image of INFOMAR).
Norman Woods attempted to assemble the parts of this jigsaw puzzles for the first time in 2014, capturing the underwater footage of larger areas of the wreckage by attaching his GoPro camera to his scooter, so he was able to swim along the full length of the ship from bow to stern and back again only in 13 minutes. However, he was not able to go to the sides, far away from the ship's former centerline, leaving many uncharted areas in the wreckage and waiting to be identified.
These information helped to determine the starting points of current research and to design and conduct a new survey. As a result, Dr. Tamás Balogh prepared the first complete representation of HMT JUSTICIA's resting place, which can be seen here for the first time.
Figure 3: 1918-2018 - HMHT JUSTICIA and its Wreckage (created by Dr. Tamás Balogh, © 2020).
Figure 4: Outline drawing of the wreckage field, identifying the exact origin of the components there (by Dr. Tamás Balogh, © 2020).
By the end of the research, we were able to identify that which was the former (original) position on the ship of some larger structural units laying on the wrecksite, which also helps to better understand and reconstruct the deformation and disintegration process of the shipwreck. It was a great surprise that the walls of the watertight compartments in the lower part of the hull, can still be seen around the engines and the boiler rooms, everywhere on the ship. These walls specially strengthened after the TITANIC disaster regarding that the JUTICIA was the first ocean liner built after the sinking of the TITANIC, where the new safety regulations could be applied. Also new was the identification of the ship's fallen foremast. Unfortunately, however, it has also been confirmed that the natural deterioration of the wreck has accelerated and that even the small details that are still recognizable will soon disappear.
But before that could happen in the future, our expedition however, was able to record the condition of the wrecks and thanks to our work, the picture we know of them in 2019 is now preserved. It was a great opportunity and I'm grateful that I was able to take part in that. Thank you all!
- Loubna Turjuman Genovese, Producer;
- Matt Bone, Producer;
- Quincy Andrews, Drone operator;
- Jonathan Young, Cameraman;
- Liam Scott, Technical support.
- Barry McGill, Leading Diver;
- Garet O’Neil, diver;
- Stewart Andrews diver;
- Kevin McShane, Support Diver;
- Pat Coughlan Support Diver;
- Michael McVeigh, Skipper.
More about the expedition:
Further wreck-diving expeditions with Tamás Balogh:
In 2016, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Jutland, he was a historian of a largescale expedition with 60 divers from 15 countries and was the author of some articles on the results of the expedition.