PARIS, JULY 25 -- The French crew searching for treasure from the Titanic made its first dive today in a small submarine that plunged 2 1/2 miles to the ocean floor accompanied by a robot named Robin.
High winds frustrated their attempts to dive on Friday, but the weather improved enough today to allow divers to begin a general survey of the area before attempting to retrieve artifacts from the ocean floor, said Yves Cornet, spokesman for Taurus International.
The minisub Nautile, which carries a crew of three, was to explore the site of the wreck, about 350 miles off Newfoundland.
Cornet said salvagers are searching for the bow of the Titanic, which has not been found since the ship sank 75 years ago. It is believed to lie as far as one or two miles from the main portion of the wreck, he said.
They will be floating over a 2 1/2-mile-wide field of debris around the Titanic that was shown in previous surveys to be littered with silver trays, china cups and other artifacts.
The Nautile minisub is equipped with two arms that are capable of picking up objects smaller than a teacup and larger than a safe. It is attached by a 26-foot umbilical cord to the 176-pound robot, Robin.
Robin is equipped with lights and three cameras encased in titanium-and-steel cases for taking pictures inside the Titanic.
The $2.5 million expedition is being conducted by the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea and is underwritten by a group of international investors operating as the Ocean Research Exploration Ltd., which is registered in Britain. Taurus International negotiated the contract.
The Titanic was discovered Sept. 1, 1985, by the French institute in partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts.
Officials at Woods Hole, which mounted a second research expedition to the Titanic last summer, have said they won't retrieve artifacts and have criticized the current French expedition.
The American expedition wanted the site to be left intact and designated a memorial to the 1,513 people who drowned when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in April, 1912.
Many of the passengers traveling on the luxury liner's maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York were wealthy, and the salvagers hope to find a fabled strongbox that has been said to contain a fortune in jewels.