Halifax, Nova Scotia-Ninety-seven years after the R.M.S. Titanic was struck by an iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean, sinking the ship and killing 1,527 passengers, the massive frozen "island" still roams free today. On the night of April 14, 1912 the cold, sadistic iceberg committed the heinous crime only to float quietly into the frigid night.
In January of 1913 the ship's owners-the White Star Line-placed the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Naval Police (CNP) in charge of the investigation because of its proximity to the site of the sinking. The White Star Line had tried unsuccessfully for almost nine costly months to apprehend the iceberg.
Over the years authorities have questioned hundreds or perhaps thousands of icebergs, but have never been able to pinpoint the culprit. As recently as 2005 an iceberg displaying brown horizontal line markings, possibly made from the hull of a ship, was arrested and later released when police confirmed the color of the Titanic did not match.
Most agree, however, 1944 was the closest this case came to being solved. During World War II the North Atlantic was overflowing with war ships and submarines. A report of a strange glacial mass containing a single Titanic life preserver flooded into the CNP headquarters in Halifax both from the Allies and the Germans-there were numerous German passengers aboard the Titanic. When the CNP arrived at the given coordinates only the preserver was found with no iceberg in sight.
"As the years pass we lose more and more eyewitnesses," said Ramty Coobers, a high seas crime specialist with the CNP. "There are only a handful of survivors remaining who can positively ID the guilty one."
Police are still going on the most accurate description of the iceberg from an anonymous survivor on that disastrous night almost 100 years ago:
It struck the ship with such mercilessness and rage. It rose into the sky as far as I could see. If I had to guess, maybe, eight stories tall. It was wide, wider than wide could be, probably the width of two football (soccer) fields. Oh, and it was extremely icy ... like a big block of ice. Ice all over the place. Yeah, that's right, it was like a big ice mountain I tell ya. An unsinkable ice mountain.
The Nova Scotia authorities feel that global warming may have greatly altered the iceberg's appearance, which could make identifying the mass almost impossible. Other experts claim a strong possibility exists that the original mass may have broken into several smaller 'bergs. Icebergs have been known to do this when attempting to conceal their identity.
"There's a good chance the iceberg is about one fourth or one fifth the size it was in 1912," said Coobers. "It may look completely different because our atmosphere is warming."
Some CNP officers did take some relief in knowing that if the iceberg has not yet already melted away then it will most assuredly be gone within ten or fifteen years.
"That would not make me feel any better." said special agent Veronica Nelson, with regards to the iceberg melting naturally. "My father, my father's father and my father's father's father worked this case. I want to catch this thing before it melts. I personally want to be the one who puts a hairdryer to this thing."
The other theory is, in a desperate attempt to run from authorities, the iceberg risked a long journey southward toward Antarctica and was unable to survive the warm air and water temperatures that make their home in the tropics.
Whatever the clues or theories may be, this destroyer of luxury passenger ship lines never paid the price for that egregious act on that early spring night ninety-seven years ago.