Coalition of Marine Experts Finds Wreckage of ‘Chilean Titanic’
Nicknamed the “Chilean Titanic,” the Itata set sail in August 1922 with approximately 400 passengers aboard. After sailing, the Itata got caught in a horrific storm and sank on August 28, 1922, near La Higuera in the Coquimbo region of Chile with all 400 or so passengers perishing .
Authorities believed that the ship sank somewhere between Punta de Choros and Caleta Chungungo, right off the Chilean coast. But no one had a clear answer as to the exact location. Despite efforts by various officials and organizations over the ensuing 95 years, the acutal location of the Itata wreckage remained a mystery.
Just a few weeks ago, a coalition of marine experts from two separate organizations, The Faculty of Marine Sciences at the Catholic University of the North (UCN) in Chile and a nonprofit organization named Oceana. Oceana was established by a partnership of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Oceana primarily acts as an advocate for ocean and marine conservation.
Acting in concert, the coalition utilized a “robot sub” to probe the ocean floor and search for the Itata., locating the Itata wreckage approximately 650 feet below the surface.
At this point, the coalition is applying for permits to continue surveying the Itata wreckage. The Faculty of Marine Sciences at UCN intends to conduct a host of research activities to learn more about underwater biology. UCN also intends to create a documentary on the discovery of the Itata wreckage.
In terms of historical significance, the Itata has an iconic place in Chilean record books. During the 1891 Chilean Civil War, the Chilean President and Chilean Congress fought over control of the country. The United States supported the Chilean President. During the conflict, the Chilean Congress attempted to ferry an arms shipment from the United States to Chile using the Itata as a cargo ship, however the United States intervened and intercepted the Itata before she reached Chile. When the Chilean Congress eventually took power, the Itata incident resulted in strained diplomatic relations with the United States.
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