Explorers today again dove 2 1/2 miles into the ocean to explore the hull of the great passenger liner RMS Titanic, viewing the ship's gymnasium, officers' quarters and the crow's-nest.
The dive, by a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, began on a foggy sea at 8:30 a.m. on the eighth day of a mission to view the Titanic and test a robot camera being developed by Woods Hole for the Navy.
The ship's resting place was discovered by the same Woods Hole team Sept. 1 during a French-American expedition. But only a handful of identifiable images were brought back from that mission, as a camera was passed above the wreck three times.
This expedition has landed a three-man submarine called Alvin on the Titanic's deck and, by using the robot camera, has entered passages and rooms unseen for 74 years. Several hundred thousand images -- in color and black and white, still pictures and videotape -- are expected to be brought back from the 12 scheduled days of diving.
So far, the expedition has reported no trace of human remains, and scientists expect to find none.
Robert D. Ballard, leader of the Woods Hole team, said today he was "very relieved" not to have found any remains, adding that "we have covered so much of the ship now that it looks less and less likely" that any will be found.
The only clothing spotted thus far is a sock among the debris on the ocean floor.
Ballard reported by radio that the most enjoyable sight has been row upon row of shining, brass-fitted windows and portholes, most of which are intact.
"The beautiful brass windows . . . look brand new," he said. "When you see our images, you will see that you can become fascinated with the Titanic's windows."
The chief disappointment of the trip, he said, has been the absence of the beautiful woodwork that dressed the ship -- from its teak decking to the carved banisters of the grand staircase.
"The wood borers have done their damage," Ballard said. "There is nothing left for them to eat."
Ballard said the three-man sub today landed at the wheelhouse site, then sent the robot camera, called Jason Jr., on its 200-foot tether to explore the forward part of the ship.
It first glided to the fo'c's'le, or forecastle, to point its color video camera into the windows of the crew's quarters. Martin Bowen then guided the robot craft up along the mast, now fallen backward onto the bridge. Using a joystick to move the craft, he pointed its camera into the crow's-nest and obtained images of the brass light atop the mast.
Will Sellars, piloting the Alvin today, next moved the sub up to the boat deck. There Jason was dispatched to the entrance to the first-class cabins. Jason was maneuvered a few feet inward to poke its 170-degree-view camera into the gymnasium.
From there the robot swam along the deck to get images of the officers' quarters and more pictures of the ornate promenade deck, which was seen Tuesday. Turning back, it took video pictures of the 25-foot Alvin resting on the deck of the great liner.
After Tuesday's exploration of the grand staircase, the promenade deck and several other decks with decorated pillars and crystal chandeliers, the robot went back today to get more color images of the remains of the wide staircase and parlor-like spaces beside it.
The next stop for Alvin and Jason was the ocean bottom beside the Titanic. Jason glided up the hull and examined the anchor. The team tried to spot the Titanic's name, but Ballard said the paint was gone.
The Jason also examined the boom and got images of the writing on the brass windlasses, which wound the anchor. The Titanic sits upright in the sediment. It sank about 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, taking more than 1,500 victims. About 800 were saved. As the ship sank, its four tall stacks were torn off, along with the stern one-third of the ship. Those parts have not been seen on either expedition.
The Titanic's grave is just south of the Grand Banks, about 500 miles off Newfoundland, at about 41 degrees latitude and 50 degrees longitude.
Ballard has been reporting daily from sea to the Woods Hole facility since the mission began July 8. Cost of the mission, underwritten by the Navy, is expected to be $500,000.