SYNOPSIS (Press Kit)
On a cruelly-cold, snow-covered Soviet island, an American agent locates a mine that once contained the world’s supply of byzanium, a radioactive, energy-producing mineral needed by the U.S.A. to power its new laser protection screen. That screen, when placed along the perimeter of the country would make it impregnable to missile attack. Traveling back to his pick-up rendezvous, the agent is shot by a Soviet guard, then heroically rescued by Dirk Pitt (RICHARD JORDAN), a former U.S. navy captain now on special assignment.
Later in Washington, Pitt meets with James Sandecker (JASON ROBARDS), retired admiral now heading NUMA, a marine research foundation; Dr. Gene Seagram (DAVID SELBY), who conceived and administrates the laser screen project; Admiral Harry Kemper (NORMAN BARTOLD), General Dale Busby (CHARLES MACAULAY) and Sam Nicholson (PAUL CARR), a CIA official. After days of research, they piece together the byzanium story.
Nearly 70 years ago, Russia had contracted with Colorado miners to extract byzanium from the island. The mineral was stolen by one of them, spirited across Europe and loaded onto a ship, the White Star liner Titanic at Southampton, England which departed for New York. It collided with an iceberg at the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, just before midnight on April 14, 1912, and the next day sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic.
Since byzanium is vital to the laser project, Pitt suggests that an attempt be made to locate–and perhaps raise– the Titanic. Sandecker takes the matter to the President, and funding is arranged.
Despite Sandecker’s attempts to eliminate personal conflict between Pitt and Seagram, who have irritated each other from their first meeting, there’s trouble between them. Dana Archibald (ANNE ARCHER), a Washington Star reporter with whom Pitt once had a torrid affair, now lives with Seagram and has never told him about her former relationship.
Meanwhile, at the Russian embassy in Washington, Soviet intelligence office Captain Andre Prevlov (BO BRUNDIN) and his assistant, Pavel Marganin (ELYA BASKIN), have begun a secret investigation of the incident on the byzanium island. They begin to monitor Sandecker’s movements.
The search and salvage mission for the Titanic begins. U.S. Navy vessels and submersibles, together with equipment from private U.S. industry, examine the bottom of the sea off Newfoundland in an area triangulated by the last three reports on the Titanic’s position before it sank, but there is no trace of it.
Pitt immediately journeys to Cornwall, England where he finds Commodore Sir John Bigalow (ALEC GUINNESS), once a junior officer on the Titanic and now the owner of a country pub. Bigalow tells of being forced at gunpoint by the byzanium miner, a man named Brewster, to take him to the hold of the titanic as it foundered in the North Atlantic before sinking. Bigalow was able to escape and later managed to leap into the sea, where he was picked up by rescuers. Brewster undoubtedly went down with the Titanic, arms locked around the steel vault said to contain the byzanium. Brewster’s last words, overheard by Bigalow, were: “Southby . . . Thank God for Southby.” Then, Bigalow presents Pitt with the Titanic’s pennant. If the great ship is ever raised, it would please him to know that his souvenir of survival would fly again.
Back aboard Sandecker’s command ship, Pitt denounces Seagram’s calculations. To make matters worse, the Starfish, a highly-sophisticated private industry mini-sub, is damaged at great depth, implodes and kills three technicians.
The Russians send their own ship to the site with Prevlov and Marganin aboard, supposedly to “observe”. A spy on Sandecker’s command vessel uses electronic signals to keep the Soviets advised of the U.S. progress underwater.
Seagram and Sandecker readjust their calculations and move the search ten miles away. Soon, a cornet used by a member f the Titanic’s orchestra is located on the ocean floor. Then, a one of the Titanic’s massive smokestacks is spotted. Encouraged, the search continues.
Pitt and his assistant, Chief Petty Officer Vinnie Giordino (M. EMMETT WALSH), ride the submersible Sea Quest down over 12,000 feet, discovering the lip of an underwater canyon. They dive deeper into the canyon and a huge bulk looms–the Titanic! It is still almost intact and listing slightly on its keel.
Salvage begins: the Titanic is ringed with special underwater lights and the submersibles weld shut the long gash in its side. Then, thousands of tons of syntactic foam are forced into its various holds to replace the sea water there. Additionally, immense tanks of hydrazine gas are fastened along the ship’s sides for even greater lifting power.
Captain Burke (J.D. CANNON) of the Navy’s command vessel has traced signals from the spy and discovers they are coming from a member of the team. A security check is made of everyone aboard and it reveals that a civilian technician, once a POW in Viet Nam, is responsible and he is apprehended. Sandecker calls a press conference in Washington, announces the plan to raise the Titanic for “scientific purposes,” and deftly turns aside questions concerning byzanium.
Salvage continues, but there’s a hitch when the Deep Quest, with Gene Seagram aboard, becomes wedged in one of the Titanic’s skylights and cannot break free. In the face of a gathering storm warning, Sandecker and Pitt decide to blast the Titanic immediately off the ocean bottom, even before placing all the foam and hydrozine tanks. There’s a quick countdown: Explosion…break free from mud…. Everyone on the surface, including the Russians, scramble to look. (The Deep Quest is freed and later bobs up.) But now, the giant hulk begins to break the surface! It is a sight unlike anything ever viewed by human beings in this universe–unique, incomparable! The Titanic has been raised!
When the impending storm warnings increase in intensity, the great ship is quickly prepared for the delicate towing back to New York harbor. Meanwhile, at the Soviet embassy, a plan has been devised to force the return of the byzanium. At sea, Prevlov radios Sandecker for permission to board the Titanic. Sandecker, Pitt and Seagram await Prevlov who is helicoptered to the deck.
Prevlov delivers the Soviet ultimatum: return the byzanium which morally belongs to the Soviet Union or their sea force will hijack the vessel. Failing approval of the Soviet proposal, the Russian ship will torpedo the Titanic once more to the ocean floor.
Sandecker, Pitt and Seagram have anticipated such a Soviet move. Prevlov is shown a submarine which has emerged to stand guard, and a destroyer, both positioned to form a blockade of the Titanic. Either of the U.S. vessels could immediately destroy the Soviet ship. Defeated, Prevlov returns to the Russian ship–the plan of menace is over. But, the arduous towing to New York still must be accomplished. And slowly, the Titanic begins the perilous trip.
The journey is accomplished without incident and in the harbor the mighty Titanic, once more proudly flying its pennant, is given a tumultuous welcome as the city turns out en masse. Then, the climax of the monumental project takes place in the ship’s hold, where Sandecker, Pitt, Seagram and U.S. officials unseal the vault said to guard the byzanium.
The contents could not be predicted and it is a shattering disclosure. It contains seven wooden crates, pried open to reveal gravel, not the precious ore, and the grisly remains of the body of Brewster, the American miner who 68 years before had changed his plan and never loaded it aboard.
In examining the contents of Brewster’s briefcase found in the vault, Pitt finds a picture postcard. It shows a lovely English landscape adjoining a country church and graveyard. The fine print identifies the scene as Southby, England. Southby! The last word uttered by Brewster–not a person’s name, but a place!
Pitt and Seagram immediately journey to the country church and graveyard a Southby. A Geiger counter’s needle dances crazily over a grave. Eureka! The byzanium! Buried in a coffin! But neither man will order it dug up. If the byzanium could be directed to create a bomb in a new, even more deadly arms race with the Soviets, they want no part of it. Pitt remembers that once Dana told him he would change the world, and he had replied that they had him outnumbered. Seagram abandons his project with a shrug.
Pitt and Seagram look at each other, laugh….and walk away.
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