The prow of the doomed liner looming out of the depths is as impressive as ever. Picture:

London - The prow of the doomed liner looming out of the depths is as impressive as ever.

But divers making the first manned voyage to the Titanic in 14 years say they were "shocked" by the deterioration of the wreck.

Nearly 13 200ft beneath the surface of the Atlantic, salt corrosion and metal-eating bacteria have worn away parts of the liner’s structure, resulting in a partial collapse. 

The divers, who made five trips to the wreckage in a submersible, found that the hull near the officers’ quarters on the starboard side has started to collapse, according to exploration company Caladan Oceanic.

Titanic historian Park Stephenson told the BBC the deterioration of the ship was "shocking", adding: "That whole deck on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms. The captain’s bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone."

WATCH: New underwater footage shows Titanic wreck deteriorating

Stephenson said he expected the lounge roof on the bow to go next, which would obstruct divers’ views inside the ship. He added: "Titanic is returning to nature." 

Clare Fitzsimmons, a scientist from Newcastle University who was a member of the expedition, said: "Microbes on the shipwreck are eating away the iron of the wreck itself, creating “rusticle” structures, which is a much weaker form of the metal."

The first-ever 4K-quality images of the ship were captured during the expedition and will be published alongside a documentary, being made by film company Atlantic Productions.

The Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912, killing more than 1 500 people.

Daily Mail