Ballard's Original Salvage Statement


Apr 11, 2001
4,565
14
223
Before the Full House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, Oct. 29,1985- regarding H.R.3272, the "Titanic Maritime Memorial Act of 1985." Dr. Ballard appeared on Panel 1 along with Jon Hollis, "Spokesperson for Titanic Historical Society, Indian Orchard, MA.
In response to Question 4 from the Committee, Dr. Ballard's statement reads:
"Since many beautiful artifacts lie outside the ship itself, scattered over the rolling alpine-like countryside around it and are vulnerable to crude and damaging salvage attempts, I am proposing to both our Government and the Government of France that any future revisits to the TITANIC which would involve the deep diving submersibles of our two countries, or any country, for that matter, dedicate a portion of their diving time to carefully recording and recovering a those delicate items lying outside the hull of the ship itself. The artifacts recovered should be used to create a museum for the countries which join the U.S. and France in setting TITANIC aside as an international memorial. I further propose that no attempt be made to harm the ship itself or retrieve items from its interior compartments. The interior compartments, we hope, will be documented in detail using remotely controlled vehicles which can be operated from nearby manned submersibles. This footage will provide the public with an opportunity to tour Titanic's interior like a guided tour through an untouched pyramid."
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
14
223
We are aware that damage has been done by Cameron's dives and dives performed by the Russian team(including one accident to the side of the Russian submersible itself). The equipment used to penetrate the interior corridors is also about the size of 3 refrigerators, and due to the rustcicles and debris, these devices are proving unmanageable for working within the confined space. The new judge who will be assuming Judge Clarke's position on arbitration is Judge Beach-Smith (not Brown as formerly reported.) Letters can be sent to her in care of the Federal COurthouse, Granby Street, Norfolk, VA as posted prieviously.
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
0
Ah! I was afraid maybe you'd forgotten, Shelley. Here you are! I've been anxiously awaiting this ever since you brought it up again. Thanks!

Regarding Judge Beach-Smith, is this simply a name correction, or are you saying that Judge Brown was replaced? (Sure hope it's the former, from what you described of her.)

As for Ballard's statement, there's surely nothing ignoble about it, as you said. It certainly does seem -- in hindsight -- a completely accurate anticipation of the "vultures" who might follow and a sincere gesture to avert that occurence. Perhaps he really did sense the very spirit of the ship, but was practical enough to know that others might merely smell gold dust. Was it Abraham Lincoln who said "A man should have his head in the clouds, but his feet firmly planted on the ground"?

Thanks for sharing this!

John
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,473
6
233
What is interesting is that, had he been allowed to retrieve artifacts for a museum, the public backlash may not have been quite as strong. It's not to say there wouldn't be detractors, but since the original intention was for a museum the outcry would have been less. I could be wrong, but I think the public would have seen the "hero" who "found" ( it is a shame the others are never mentioned ) the Titanic was interested in creating a museum as a monument to the great ship, not for plunder.
I say this as Ballard certainly has a good spin doctor as most of the world hasn't an inkling that he is no altruist. Luckily Shelley has shed some light on his motives and other various incidents.
I certainly got a chance to witness him in action at the 1988 convention and found him to be very pompous. The way he told it, you'd think he commandeered the research vessel all by himself with no crew. Or that the crew around him were inferior to him. It was a total turn off.
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
0
Hi, Michael (Standart):

Shelley originated this in another salvage thread -- "Bringing Up More Artifacts?" -- as a byproduct of having pointed out that Ballard had not always been anti-salvage, as is often the belief. In that thread, I believe she said that he couldn't get the funding, so the whole museum thing fell through. Thus we now have the Titanic Travelling Show, courtesy of his successors.

Hi, Michael (Poirier):

But the way Ballard was approaching it, how would that add to anything but his fame? I mean, under public funding he certainly wouldn't be getting rich, would he? And, though I agree almost entirely with your assessment, I think it's worthwhile to point out that -- while most scientists, I think, find this an uncomfortable sideline at best -- as a scientist, Ballard has a strong financial motivation to "blow his own horn" if he wants to continue doing publicly funded research. There's lots of competition for research grants, and being "famous" certainly doesn't hurt one's prospects any. Unlike many scientists, Ballard seems to be an excellent "salesman" as well. Which of course necessarily puts him at risk of being considered "arrogant". (Though I'm certainly not contesting your observations. Your experience at the convention is certainly more concrete than my conjectures here.)

Cheers!
John Feeney
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
14
223
Actually the Navy would not use taxpayer dollars for anything other than the testing of the sonar and related equipment. Ballard picked Titanic as a target because he had an interest in the subject and the exercise of locating her in that area of the Atlantic was ideal for the testing. Museum never came into those talks because salvage was not an issue. The French team and government, with whom Ballard worked on the discovery dive, was interested in salvaging some arifacts, had the conservation facilities, etc. and a corporation with financial backers was formed. Some of the partners turned out to be "unsavory. You may remember Westgate- the California entertainment folks who brought you that deplorable Telly Savalas safe opening LIVE on TV- it REALLY hurt the atmosphere for respectable salvage. They were "unloaded" as soon as possible- lots of damage was done to Tulloch's credibility-no fault of his. Sometimes you don't know what your partner is like till you "crawl into bed with 'em." I can tell you that Tulloch was for a dignified venue from the start, I know of negotiations which have been ongoing. If I get permission to name names, I will. I guess my axe to grind with Ballard may be colored by personal feelings and experiences with the man. And yes, unscientific or not, I do get involved with personalities and how they interact with others. I should have liked Ballard to give more credit to the French, I should have liked him to be more humble, less "slick" with exploitation -face it, it is Ken M.'s fantastic artwork which sells those books- Ballard is a pedestrian writer in my view. I should have liked Ballard to be kinder to an old man who had 3 months to live after a slide show- Ballard literally blew him off- the old man was survivor Marshall Drew. So , while I acknowledge the man's positive contributions to undersea exploration- I can't admire that he has a selective memory when it comes to his stand on salvage. That's all I can say.
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
0
Hi, Shelley:

I was intrigued by one of your last comments above, regarding Marshall Drew -- the slide show. I looked in the ET Research section on him, but didn't see this incident there. Had you discussed it previously, and I just missed it? It seems a very sad story indeed.

Oh, was "Judge Beach-Smith" just a name correction?

Thanks!
John Feeney
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
14
223
John-yes, Beach-Smith is a name correction.No, I have never written about the incident with Marshall. It happened in March 1986 at University of Rhode Island-Ballard's Alma Mater. Marshall was, as you recall an ace photographer and slides were his specialty. He was anti-salvage all the way but loved the photography aspect of Titanic's discovery. It was a great evening-Marshall was anxious to meet Ballard-he said to try to get the attention of one of Ballard's "honchos"(entourage wranglers I called 'em) and we could get to meet him I had met him at an opening of a Ken Marscal art show the year before so I could have cared less about it-but Marshall was keen. So I approached this huge guy (like a bouncer) and he said to wait till after the press and fans and faculty were done oogling and fawning and then he would introduce us. We waited a long time- finally on the way out he passed by, I introduced Marshall- he grabbed his hand, gave the Kodak smile- and said something like "Oh, really- second-class- well, what a pleasure-" all in one breath and just whisked away to his champagne reception or somesuch. The old man was baffled and obviously hurt. I will never forget it. So that's the story for what it's worth. I met him once more at a press conference- I sat near him on a panel and he just nodded a vague recognition. I also guess his divorce of the wife of some years to marry one of the Woodshole ladies and subsequent building of a million dollar house for her on the coast didn't help. I did feel bad for him when he lost his son in a car crash- Todd I believe. He's doing ok here in Mystic with his new Mystic Aquarium venture and is godlike in Mystic circles- has parlayed a lucky chance into being set for life.
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
0
Oh, that's a shame, Shell. Thanks so very much for sharing the story, but it is so sad.
Poor Marshall -- I could feel his disappointment (and yours) just in reading it.
sad.gif


Thanks!
John Feeney
 
Dec 2, 2000
1,513
3
223
Whoa, Shelley. That is such a sad story. I wonder if people like that know what they do to others when they act that way?

Maureen.
 
T

Tracey McIntire

Guest
Shelley-
I haven't checked my e-mail in three days so I was very excited to see you had posted Ballard's statement to the committee. I must agree with his "movie star" persona. I met him at the '98 THS convention and it was all photos and autographs but not much else. He really didn't speak to people one-on-one. Of course the atmosphere there was one of great reverance for this supposedly "Anti-Salvage Crusader." I bet most people are not aware of his original stance. I certainly wasn't and I thank you for enlightening me!
Sincerely,
Tracey McIntire
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,473
6
233
Hi Tracey:
Ballard's comments may not be well known, but some people who did know it overlooked it to further a point.
I am still digging for that list for you. Do not give up hope. Or as we say in the maritime world,
" Don't give up the ship! "
 
T

Tracey McIntire

Guest
Thanks Michael--I really appreciate your efforts. I hope I am not inconveniencing you. If it gets to be too much trouble just say "Damn the torpedoes--full speed ahead!"
happy.gif


Tracey
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
0
Shelley:

I think I finally understand where you're coming from with this. Someone on a.h.o.t. had written a very eloquent denunciation of Ballard's shifting positions on salvage at the very beginning. It does seem pretty fickle to initially proclaim the sanctity of the ship, then propose salvaging her, then denounce the idea entirely. I'll try to keep an open mind on this one. There's certainly more to it than initially meets the eye!

Thanks for sharing this info.

Sincerely,
John Feeney
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,473
6
233
Dear Tracey:
You are definitely not inconveniencing me. Have a few more boxes to go through. Saw it just recently. Know it is there somewhere.
On the bright side, I did find some old letters from survivors of various shipwrecks I had been looking for. So, actually you have dome me a favor.
Best wishes,
Mike
 
T

Tracey McIntire

Guest
Great, Michael! Glad I could (inadvertently)help you out! I look forward to seeing what you find.
Thanks again!
Tracey
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
Member
Dec 3, 2000
8,248
20
308
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Hi Shelley,

Thanks very much for sharing that information. I was never aware of it before and what a sad story concerning Marshall Drew.

I can understand why you and he would be disappointed. It made me sad just reading it.

Best regards,

Jason
 
B

Bunky

Guest
I'm not entirely sure what to think of Dr. Ballard yet. A National Geographic Society video shows a very excited Ballard, along with his crew, attempting to open what is called a purser's safe. It shows them turning the handle on the safe, but the door doesn't open. The narrator is saying how Ballard has brought nothing up from the wreck and how he has vowed not to. The narrator then continues - "until they come upon the assistant purser's safe." (This documentary was directed by Ballard).

Bunky
 
B

Bunky

Guest
Hi Shelley - I also remember reading about him ignoring an elderly man. I didn't post it because I didn't remember the details.

Bunky
 

Similar threads

Similar threads