Titanic? Radioactive?


Jessie M.

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Jan 13, 2019
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So maybe I've just been watching a bit too much of HBO's Chernobyl, but I gotta ask... Is it possible for the wreck to be radioactive? It was brought up in conversation the other night at the dinner table (Me and my Mom are big Titanic fans, and my dad an all around History fan) that the Scorpio (Scorpion, Scorpio, me and my mom go back and forth with this) was carrying missiles, hence why the military let the researchers down there in the first place.
Thing is; the sources I've found have a habit of going back and forth on exactly what kind of missile the Scorpio had. Some have said they were Nukes, others have said they were just regular torpedos. Well, if they were Nukes, could that radioactivity have leaked out and leached into the nearby wreck? Obviously we've only ever been down there in some pretty impressive subs so there's never been any risk of Radiation Sickness, but it's still something to think about.
Your thoughts, forum?
 
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Athlen

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Apr 14, 2012
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It looks like Scorpion had two Mk 45 torpedoes with 11 kiloton warheads, plus a reactor.

Water, however, is very effective at blocking radiation. Table B-1 in this document gives the half-value layer for several common materials. So, 12.2 cm of water halves the radioactivity from a source. (This means an ‘average’ gamma ray; alpha and beta rays require much less shielding.) So, since the Scorpion’s nuclear material is either still contained (which I think is likely) or very dispersed over a huge area, there’s essentially no risk.

In theory, if the radioactive material did reach Titanic, some interesting experiments might be performed. One thought — the mud at the bow. Has it been churned up since 1968 (meaning it had radioisotopes below the surface), or has it been steady since 1912?

It’s possible to detect extremely low amounts of radioactivity, but my view is that Titanic lacks even that.
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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What is the connection to Titanic?
Indirectly Titanic wouldn't have been found by Dr. Ballard if it wasn't for the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher. I'm sure evryone here knows the story of how the US Navy funded the mission to document the 2 sub wrecks to keep tabs on what was going on with them and let Ballard use the extra time and equiptment to search for Titanic. And if someone wasn't aware of that then thats her (USS Scorpion) connection to Titanic. Theres a really good docu on it. Link below if anyones interested.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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At first glance I would agree with you. But since theres 9 nuclear sub wrecks and anywhere from 50-100 nuclear weapons lost (hard to pin down because they still won't admit to all) the question is not all that unreasonable. The USS Thresher is a lot closer to Titanic than Scorpion. That would have been my question if I wanted to go there. But I understand your point. I'm more worried about contaminated fish stocks than pieces of steel 2 1/2 miles down.
 
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Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Actually, the steel in Titanic is valuable, because it isn't radioactive. Steel made after WW II, especially in the 1960s, contains trace of radioactive material from the many nuclear tests of the time. The most notable is cobalt 60. Steel from old wrecks is used for scientific equipment that needs to be free of even minor radioactivity.

Now, where's my dirty big magnet!
 
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Jim Currie

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Absolutely true. Back i the early 70s, metal salvaged from the WW1 German Fleet at Scapa Flow was used by BOC Scientists to construct XRay cabinets because of this very quality.
 
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If the ship burned coal then she was radioactive. Im not saying it was harmful levels but it was there. Mechanics from my coal fired power plant would set off the detectors when they went to work outages at the nukie plant from their dirty coveralls containig flyash. Colbalt 60 wasn't a problem but uranium and thorium were. Also before 9-11 density meters that contained cesium were routinly just thrown in the landfill. They contained a very small disc of it. I understand that in the medical instrumentation dept that was a problem also. I guess the concern was if somebody collected a gagillion of them they could make a dirty weapon or something.
 
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