On 15 April 1912, the largest passenger steamship ever built, appropriately named Titanic, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg. Titanic had left Southampton, England, five days earlier and was on her maiden voyage.
In 1985, National Geographic explorer Dr Robert Ballard located the wreck of Titanic. He went back to Titanic nineteen years later to see how it had changed.
It was the height of the Cold War and in fact I was on a secret mission when we found Titanic. The US navy had agreed to finance the development of our underwater video technology. in return, we had agreed to use the technology to find two US nuclear submarines which had disappeared in the 1960s.
Not at first, because many ships had sunk in that area. When we realised it was Titanic, we jumped for joy. Then we realised we were celebrating something where people had died. We actually stopped our work and held a memorial service at that point.
I saw champagne bottles, intact, with the corks still in. The box holding the bottles had disappeared long ago. Suddenly, my eye was drawn to a woman's shoe.
Nearby I saw a pair of smaller shoes that had perhaps belonged to a child. I felt that the people who had died here in 1912 were speaking to me again. But I knew that a private salvage company had legally removed thousands of objects from the site.
A Russian submarine had taken Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron to the wreck. A New York couple had even got married on Titanic's bow. It was exactly what I didn't want to happen. I'd asked people to treat Titanic's remains with dignity. Instead, they'd turned her into a freak show. The story of Titanic is not about the ship, it's about the people.