The Titanic‘s Second Doomsday: Could Bacteria Destroy the Ship?

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The "Titanic" liner, seen leaving Queenstown harbor before making her maiden voyage en route for the USA. The ship struck an iceberg and sank near Newfoundland, killing 1550 people.

The tip of the iceberg was really just…the tip of the iceberg. For the second time, the R.M.S. Titanic could be seeing its last days. 

A new report in the latest International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology says DNA research found mysterious bacteria on the hull of the sunken ship that could cause it to deteriorate to a simple rust stain in 15-20 years.

(See the Top 10 clashes at sea.)

The pesky bacteria, named Halomonas titanicae, was obtained from ‘rusticles,’ the orange icicle-looking formations of rust that were collected from a previous expedition to the wreck. It does its damage by adhering to steel surfaces and spreading , and it could do so until the once glorious ocean liner is a pile of rusty dust two miles below the surface.

(See a brief history of the Titanic discovery.)

But one ship’s bacteria is ship’s industry’s treasure. Turns out, the new species could be used to aid the recycling process of underwater oil rigs or the remains of other naval disasters.

Ariel, this is a message to you and any other shipwreck-hunting mermaids. Get your gadgets and gizmos before the Titanic is gone for good. (via Discovery News)