Robert Ballard, The Unsinkable Man

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Trivial Diversions

Robert Ballard, The Unsinkable Man

Robert Ballard, The Unsinkable Man

In 1985, Robert Ballard discovered the sunken skeleton of the RMS Titanic, one of the biggest discoveries pretty much ever. Ballard would go on to discover the wreckage of the German battleship Bismark (1989), the USS Yorktown (1998) and JFK’s PT-109 (2002).

The Man: 

  • Former US Naval Officer
  • Professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island
  • Specializes in underwater archaeology, a career title which sends shivers down my spine.

robert-ballard

The Titanic: 

  • He started searching in 1977 but didn’t receive funding until 1982, when he struck a deal with the US Navy. In order to fund the search for the Titanic, Ballard had to first search for two sunken submarines.
  • The USS Scorpion and USS Thresher had gone missing years earlier and the Navy, obviously, wanted to know what happened. They were found around the same area as the Titanic.
  • Both subs had imploded from the pressure of the sea after they had been hit.
  • Ballard determined the Titanic had probably suffered a similar fate once she had sunk. He soon found debris scattered on the ocean floor which lead him to a boiler and the hull of the doomed ocean liner.
  • After the discovery of the Titanic, Ballard almost kept it a secret but eventually changed his mind.

titanic

Other Wrecks: 

The USS Yorktown:

  • Sunk in 1942 at the Battle of Midway
  • The wreck was discovered 3 miles below the surface in May 1988

JFK’s PT-109:

  • Rammed by a Japanese destroyer in 1943 and sunk
  • 11 survivors, including Kennedy, abandoned ship and began swimming for an island nearby
  • Kennedy pulled one of his shipmates to shore with a life jacket strap, which he held in his teeth

PC 101

Related topics JFK, ocean, Robert Ballard, ship wreck, Titanic
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