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Image shows old Titanic painting, not wreckage of imploded sub

Image shows old Titanic painting, not wreckage of imploded sub - Featured image

Author(s): Bill MCCARTHY / AFP USA

An image circulating online purports to show underwater debris from the Titan submersible that imploded during its journey to the Titanic, leaving five people dead. This is false; the picture is a 1987 painting that depicts the infamous shipwreck and another vessel that toured it in 1986.

“This is where the debris has been found, just a few yards around the Titanic wreckage,” says text over a June 22, 2023 TikTok video viewed more than three million times. “The 5 billionaires are dead!”

Screenshot from TikTok taken June 28, 2023

The video came shortly after the US Coast Guard said the OceanGate Expeditions tourist submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” ending a multinational search for the vessel, which lost contact with its mothership less than two hours into its descent.

Similar posts spread on other platforms — including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — before and after the announcement.

But the image in the TikTok video does not show the Titan’s debris at the foot of the Titanic.

Reverse image searches show the original picture is a 1987 acrylic painting of the Titanic from Ken Marschall (archived here). The American artist is known for his work depicting the ocean liner, which sank during its maiden voyage in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg.

Various websites, including the art market Artnet, attribute the painting to Marschall.

Screenshot from taken June 28, 2023

“The stern section of Titanic and surrounding debris, with the submersible Alvin under the fantail, as they appeared during the 1986 Ballard/WHOI exploration,” the caption on Marschall’s website says.

The three-person Alvin submersible, operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US state of Massachusetts, surveyed the Titanic’s wreckage in 1986.

This handout image taken during the historical 1986 dive, courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and released February 15, 2023, shows the human-occupied vehicle Alvin, with remotely operated vehicle Jason Jr attached, descending to the ocean bottom – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

AFP reached out to Marschall for comment, but no response was forthcoming.

Debris recovered

A remote-operated vehicle (ROV) found wreckage from the Titan on the seafloor roughly 1,600 feet (500 meters) from the bow of the Titanic, including the sub’s tail cone and the front and back ends of its pressure hull.

The Coast Guard’s First District told AFP on June 23 that no images or videos of the wreckage had been released.

Photos taken since then show pieces of the sub being hauled ashore in Canada on June 28.

Those who died on board included OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush; Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French submarine operator known as “Mr Titanic;” Hamish Harding, a British aviation tycoon; and wealthy Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood.

AFP has previously debunked other misinformation about the Titan submersible here, here, here and here.

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Originally published here.