100 Years Later | RMS Titanic under the Northern Atlantic Ocean | Dr Robert Ballard Video footage. CLICK ON PLAY
Courtesy of the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT – http://MysticAquarium.org/titanic/
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Dr. Robert Ballard champions technology, education and the human story in every mission he ventures. His entwined history with Titanicis a perfect example.
Seeking to improve his ability to study undersea mountains in the early 1980s, Dr. Ballard, an ardent geologist, developed the ARGO-Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system to locate and videotape underwater objects. Titanic, the ultimate deep water test site, beckoned. But what began as a challenge to test ARGO evolved into passion for the ship itself through the mentorship of Bill Tantum, founder of the Titanic Historical Society. While researching and discussing Titanic, the story of the ship, the people and the tragedy touched Dr. Ballard’s soul and “blew me right over…it was a complete surprise.”
Meanwhile, funding ARGO’s testing was another challenge. As a commanding officer in the Naval Reserve, Dr. Ballard turned to the U. S. Navy. In exchange for financial support and time to look for Titanic, he was commissioned in the summer of 1985 with a secret mission to explore two Navy nuclear submarines that went down in the 1960s in search of their nuclear reactors and weapons systems, one off the coast of Massachusetts, the other in the Azores.
ARGO proved successful and, mission accomplished, Dr. Ballard sped to the Grand Banks to search for Titanic. Though he had only 12 days to find the ship, Dr. Ballard had made an important discovery while documenting the two submarines—in both cases the downed subs left a long debris trail. Dr. Ballard calculated that if he could find Titanic’s debris trail, it would lead him to the ship.
Narrowing his search to 50 square miles, he ordered ARGO to make sweeps one mile apart. Nine days flew by and hopes were dimming. Then, at 12:48 a.m. on September 1, 1985, ARGO’s operator spotted debris. Dr. Ballard raced to the control room and entered just as ARGO glided over one of Titanic’s 29 boilers. Excitement exploded in the room. “I’ll never forget seeing Titanic for the first time in the pitch black,” he recalled. “You don’t see it until the last moment, as if someone pulled back the curtain, and out it comes from this black velvet void of nothingness.”
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