Ballard's Original Salvage Statement


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Jim Kalafus

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The thing that really "gets me" is that the man is so militantly (and sanctimoniously) anti- exploitation, yet it seems like every year he comes out with another lavishly illustratred "coffee table book" and accompanying video. And am I the only one who found it not just hypocritical but also disgusting to see that lengthy montage of Lusitania victims IN CLOSE UP presented by someone who is so quick to trot out the "Titanic is a graveyard/ should be preserved as a memorial" line? In a more scholarly context the use of those pictures would still have been jarring, yet somehow acceptable, but including them for no evident reason in a mass market video REEKED of sleazy exploitation. The people at RMS Titanic might seem a bit crass from time to time, but they've never stooped THAT low. And I agree: that Marshall Drew incident was uncalled for, particularly since Mr. Drew, in addition to being a survivor, was a very interesting man and worth taking the time to meet.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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James- you are not alone in your assessment of all the above. Did you know Marshall-? Yes, he would have been fascinating WITHOUT Titanic. Ballard's loss. I wonder what Dr. B is up to this year for TV and the bookmarket bux? He will be out of luck if Ken Marschal is busy elsewhere because I buy the books for the artwork only. His Hindenburg coffee table book was spectacular. Ballard is quite a God down here in Mystic- parlaying his stroke of luck into a new empire- aquariums. There's an undersea learning center directed at the kiddies here- it has some educational merit, naturally. Kids know how to soften up the parents to buy all the goodies in the gift shop too. Being "The Discoverer" of Titanic sure has had its lucrative side. Too bad kids don't know Marconi and Michael Farraday a little better. They need to get an agent and some press people!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Shelley: I like the way you think! It would be stretching a point to say I knew Marshall Drew, as I met him once and most of what I know comes from things read afterward. I've not been to the Mystic Aquarium, as I am partial to the ones at Norwalk and Boston, but next time I'm on the East Coast I'll probably check it out, along with the Lizzie Border B&B (which NO ONE will check into with me, I've tried) and a few other points of interest. As for what Dr. B. is doing for the TV and Coffee Table Book trade this year, I was wondering about that myself.....I need my fix of long LONG montages of him looking out to sea, him looking soulful, him backlit against a flaming sunset, him ENDLESSLY examining computer printouts, him summing up the greater social import of the project, and then finally thirty seconds of actual dive footage tacked on at the end. Plus the accompanying illustrated book.
 
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One of the early Ballardesque National Geo tapes (before Dr. B became a household word), showed Ballard being hustled into the room to view what looked like boilers on the seabed- am sorry to say I have forgotten the poor man who actually picked out the shapes himself- and who is in MY mind the "Discoverer of Titanic". The esteemed Dr. B. says and I must eliminate certain words as this is a family board, I quote, " Holy s---, .....WE found the son of a -----"- this is all sotto voce in the background and I notice later tapes have buffered this less than scientific ejaculation out. As my old mother used to say, What's with the WE- got a mouse in your pocket? Anyway, I guess if you are the "head" of any expedition- the credit gets your name- never mind the Nadir and all the nice French guys plowing that field night after night with the sonar sled. I also note the mournful panning, sweeping views of the seascape, choking up (which he can do at the drop of a hat it would seem) emotionalism which after the 15th time comes off a little suspect. The Lusitania Saga was a big letdown- after all the hoopla, appearances on the Today show, intimations of BIG breaking news he would reveal in the Special program- what did we learn? Nothing we didn't already know before. So I wonder if it is true that the British gov.t removed any incriminating evidence years ago? Did Ballard get a gag order from the powers that be? Who knows- maybe there IS nothing to find out. He will soon run out of shipwrecks people want to hear about . Wonder if he ever gave a thought to kicking some of his millions into a permanent museum for the recovered artifacts- maybe I will write him a suggestive letter! By the way- if you ever come to Fall River- I will be glad to give you the Lizzie Borden House Tour- I've slept in every room and napped alone at night and still here to tell about it!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Shelley-I noticed that vanishing dialogue myself. Thanks for the Fall River invitation! Last time I was up there the house was still closed to the public. SO, do you think Emma was involved?
 
Aug 29, 2000
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The house opened as a B&B about 3 years ago- you can also take a day tour- pretty pricey to stay- the cheapest room is 150 per night with a Borden breakfast! No, Emma had an IRON-clad alibi with no room for holes. Have been studying the case for 10 years and can't see how anybody BUT Lizzie did the deed. I work in the summers as an innkeeper at the house, which is a lot bigger inside than it looks in books. Come over to [email protected] to discuss Lizzie. Hope you saw the Marine Museum while in Fall River-great Titanic model and other nice ship stuff there. You also wouldn't happen to be a Ripperologist too?!Funny how so many Titanic buffs get into other historical dramas like Hindenburg, famous crimes, Civil War, etc. A lot seem to be musical and/or artistic. Somebody ought to do a profile!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Yes, the Maritime Museum in Fall River is worth the trip, particularly those models. And, yes, I'm interested in the whole list you ran down; I guess I fit the standard profile. I have no favorite Ripper theory (they all strike me as half baked) but I have my doubts about Emma, and I'll meet you at the other site to run through them. Back to DR. BALLARD and a question that maybe someone out there can answer: in his Lost Liners book he mentions the Collins Line's Pacific being discovered during the 1980s, but in a very general way. Frustrating, to say the least, I would have liked an entire chapter. Does anyone out there know the story? Have photos been published? Is there a link where I can find them? That whole affair is worthy of a book and documentary. Now if we can just find someone to do it.....
 

Eric Sauder

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James K. asked: "And am I the only one who found it not just hypocritical but also disgusting to see that lengthy montage of Lusitania victims IN CLOSE UP presented by someone who is so quick to trot out the "Titanic is a graveyard/ should be preserved as a memorial" line? In a more scholarly context the use of those pictures would still have been jarring, yet somehow acceptable, but including them for no evident reason in a mass market video REEKED of sleazy exploitation."

Well said! No, you are definitely not the only one. This same subject appeared on another list back in June. Here is what I wrote (it has been combined from both postings to the list and private e-mails):

"One of my biggest irritations with publishers and documentary producers is the fact that they *insist* on using the photos of the Lusitania dead without any thought being given to whether or not members of the victims' families are still alive. I am never happy when I learn the photos are going to be used, and I make a point of giving the producers my litany of reasons why up front. Of course, my suggestion is almost never taken by these ratings vultures, and generally they dismiss me out of hand; so the poor victims are trotted out on television (as well as in books) for the whole world to gawk at. There has only been one producer who has seriously listened to my opinion. He wouldn't remove the photos entirely, but we came to a compromise. He did very close pans across the faces so you couldn't tell who you were looking at and did not show body numbers.

"A perfect example (of families objections to this type of exploitation) is a photo in the book "The Liners" by Terry Coleman. To most people this poor woman is simply "No. 75." In life, she was Alice Loynd, a second-class passenger traveling with her husband, David. They both died in the sinking, and both bodies were recovered. I have been in touch with the Loynd's niece, and she was disgusted beyond belief to learn that this photo of her aunt lying in her casket has not only been published, but used in a documentary as well.

"I see no reason to print images like this other than to satisfy the ghoulish bloodthirstyness of the public and to put more money into the publisher's pockets. What kind of world do we live in? After all, how many of you want to see photos of your dead mother or father or sister or brother or aunt or uncle published in a splashy coffee-table book for the sordid amusement of others?

"What makes this so very frustrating to me is that I wasn't allowed to see these exact same photos at the Cunard Archives while I was there on a research trip. I had been in touch with a number of survivors who had lost relatives in the sinking but whose bodies were either never identified or never found. Most of the survivors had already sent me "in-life" photos of their lost relatives so I offered to take them and look through the files on the slim chance of making an identification. The survivors were thrilled.

"When I arrived at the archives, I asked to see the file and was told "no." All the assistant archivist would say was: "Oh, you don't want to see those. They're quite disturbing." Even after I explained to her that it wasn't morbid curiosity but was being done on behalf of some of the remaining survivors that I wanted to see the pictures, she still would not bring out the file. What could I do? When I later found out that they were to be used in a documentary, I almost went through the roof. A serious researcher with good cause can't access the files, but a producer can who wants to use them to titilate his audience can.

"Another documentary company I worked with that wanted to use these same photos a few months ago was told "no" by the new archivist. He sees no reason for anyone to use them in films, books, or documentaries. Hopefully, the next time I'm in Liverpool, he will understand my request and let me see the files. Although most of the survivors I was in contact with have now passed on, their families are still interested in my research, and hopefully, I'll be able to finally give the families some peace of mind."

Eric Sauder
 

Jim Kalafus

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Eric: Well said, and defintely the only valid opinion on the subject as far as I'm concerned. You hit the nail on the head beautifully, and I hope that these exchanges are forwarded to those who have exploited, and those who will try to exploit those unfortunates in the future. May they, and those photos, rest in peace.
 
Oct 23, 2000
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Shelly,

I think Bob's stance on salvage perhaps needed to percolate at first, and thus his views changed.
After all, the hearings were BETWEEN the Titanic expeditions, and everyone's views can change from time to time. It's just the nature of the beast.
I wish I could interview him in detail about his salvage views to see if I'm correct or not, but that won't happen anytime soon. :)
Also, did you personally witness the Marshall Drew incident or hear it from an unimpeachable source?
I ask to make sure this story isn't a rumor or anything.
Lastly, IMO, Bob's Lucy expedition wasn't a letdown for me, nor did it contain things I already knew about. I NEVER, EVER, heard of a "coal dust" theory or there actually being no hole in the Lucy's port side until Bob and his team visited that sad ghost off the Old Head Of Kinsale.

James,

"And am I the only one who found it not just hypocritical but also disgusting to see that lengthy montage of Lusitania victims IN CLOSE UP presented by someone who is so quick to trot out the "Titanic is a graveyard/ should be preserved as a memorial" line?"

I'm sorry, but I disagree point-blank here.
As you may recall, Bob visited the Cunard archives in that program.
First, a lady opens a vault for him, and he goes in and sits down to look over the pictures of the poor souls who died. I think the narration says something about the human cost of the tragedy at this point.
After our look into the faces of those who were as much a victim of the war as those who died at First Ypres, the Somme, or the Nivelle offensive (if not more so, for they were NOT SOLDIERS but INNOCENTS), the show then switches to Bob looking at and reading aloud a note written by one aboard the Lucy as she went down (poor person died, btw).
Then, eitheir after all this, or later in the program, Bob visits a cemetery where those who died on the Lusitania were buried.
IMHO, all this was TO SHOW US THE HUMAN COST OF THIS TRAGEDY. Something that has pretty much been sidelined by the debate about munitions and suchlike. Almost making the Lucy seem like a target in a video game rather than a ship with people like you or I aboard. Many of whom were SLAUGHTERED on that fateful day in May of 1915.
If the pictures of the dead had only been presented by themselves and nothing else, then I would agree it was crass, but since they were not, I'm afraid I disagree, sir.
Now, I don't agree with everything Bob does or says, especially on the chick flick I broke my wrists and feet beating and kicking to death in various forums the past two years (ah place me in a wheelchair next to Harold Bride!), but I do like him, and think some of the criticisims of him out there are uncalled for. Yet such things always come up with people in the public eye.

Richard K.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Hi Rich- Yep, the Marshall Drew story is true- anything I post here is stuff I actually witness or was a part of- far be it for me to judge or draw conclusions on what's in anybody's mind- I only report what I observe first hand. The episode occured in Jan of 1986- details are posted here on the board. That coal dust theory has been around and around and first tried out on TITANIC- yes- somebody actually said the iceberg DID NOT cause the sinking directly but that coaldust from coal which was loaded too quickly, not hosed down, and was borrowed from other ships and was in some instances of poor quality, combusted and blew out rivets. Good luck getting an interview with Dr. Ballard. Yes, I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words. One picture would have done enough. Death and grief are hard emotions to deal with- having buried my father and two sons, I expect I would find it hard to think about pictures of them in their coffins being gawked at by millions on a TV screen a hundred years from now. Time blurs people's sensitivities I guess. There was a time when family of the dead was spared the difficulties of daily social conversation and prying eyes. Veiled women in black and men with black arm bands were tenderly treated and their privacy respected. It's a visual world now and anything goes all the time- am still reeling from Princes Diana's funeral and the huge public outcry when the Royal family didn't instantly rush out and publically gnash and weep for benefit of the cameras. Having been through terrible personal loss, I can say being spared the painful and relentless public questioning and prying would have been a mercy. Some may be well- meaning, but a lot was just plain noseyness and insensitivity. We all know what dead bodies look like. Just seeing the coffins piled up on the pier was enough for me.
As far as Ballard's position shifting- sure, everybody deserves a chance to change minds and hearts- I object to "selective memory". It's one thing to say "I believe, now that I have more knowledge, and time to consider all factors, that salvage is utterly wrong and a desecration of the wrecksite- I have changed my previous views."-- that I can respect- it's just coming out with a statement suggesting you have always promoted, and said and supported a stance, then conveniently forgetting ALL that you said before as if it never existed that gets to me. Hypocrisy of any kind does. He's not a bad man- I don't mean to suggest he has not made wonderful contributions in many areas, (and my Dad knew him years ago as a gangly student at URI when he was very humble- )and I have met and talked to him several times- I will simply note that extreme fame can have unfortunate results on some personalities. Excellent PR people, great editing, fabulous photography, National Geo.,a brilliant artist in the form of Ken Marschall and first-class film production staff can do a nice job of packaging too.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Richard: About the Lusitania dead. That thing about using pictures to show "war's cost" doesn't cut it. Never did, or at least not since the time of Matthew Brady. We've now had at least 137 years of photographic evidence of atrocities. THOSE pictures were especially ill chosen because A) more than half of the pictures used were of IDENTIFIED victims and should have been purged from the archives or returned to the families (at their own discretion) back in 1915 and B) as Mr Sauder pointed out, there are still relatives of Alice Loynd, whose death picture has been used in several publications, living who are appalled to see their aunt thus displayed, and doubtlessly there are others out there who can remember the people being shown. Every one of those pictures was of a person such as you or I, who died a horrible death and who DESERVE RESPECT AND SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A RATINGS BOOSTER. Had those shots been used in, for instance, a technical paper dealing with the problems of identification faced back in 1915, the methods used...etc...a paper geared towards a specific audience not intended for the general public, it would have been forgivable, but to put them in a family oriented documentary with pretentious music and intercut shots of Doctor Ballard looking somber is just obscene. There is no other word for it. If we REALLY want to see "war's cost" we need look no further than the interview in which Edith Williams tells of the death of her sister Florence to understand. To be shown a close-up postmortem of a girl who MAY VERY WELL BE FLORENCE
a few minutes later is needless. Beyond crude. The famous photograph of the Crompton family, all 8 of whom were lost, is far sadder and more affecting than those death pictures ever could be: A photo capturing children smiling up at their mother, all soon to die together, is incredibly sad. A photo of a woman with eyes rolled back, jaw slackended and facial discoloration is just disturbing, wouldn't you agree? Perhaps Mr Sauder might consider putting Dr Ballard in touch with the Loynd relatives so that he can gain better perspective on the REAL cost of "showing war's cost" in so calculated and vulgar a manner. Sorry if my description of the woman in the previous lines seems a bit much, but I'm only describing what has already been put on public view as "education." And finally: isn't it the height of appalling hypocrisy to prattle on and on about the sacred symbolic grave that is the Titanic while making money showing us the contents of what is in the Lusitania's physical gravesite?
 
J

Jason Bidwell

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If the idea was to show the human face of the tragedy then the producers of the Lusitania documentary could have contented themselves with just panning over a row of tombstones, or, like the A&E show "Titanic: Death of a Dream" have shown pictures of the victims as they looked in life. I remember being very touched when I first saw that on A&E. Instead they opted to go the easier, and less classier route, of stimulating the minds of their audience with horrors, rather than pathos. Ah, well, c'est la vie.
 

Eric Sauder

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Regarding the Lusitania victim photographs, Richard K. wrote:

"...Bob visited the Cunard archives in that program. ...he goes in and sits down to look over the pictures of the poor souls who died. ...the show then switches to Bob looking at and reading aloud a note written by one aboard the Lucy as she went down (poor person died, btw). Then...Bob visits a cemetery where those who died on the Lusitania were buried."

To be blunt, all of this can be explained by a simple, two-word phrase -- "photo op."

Richard, please don't believe everything you see on TV. You are assigning very pure motives to Ballard and the documentary director without knowing the whole story. I worked on the show, I know the director fairly well, I've seen the way he works, and I can guarantee you the director did not use the photos to "show us the human cost of this tragedy," despite what the narration says or what you might think. He couldn't care less. He went for the cheap, easy thrill. The photos were used simply to increase the "shock" factor of the show and for no other reason. And Ballard should have put a stop to it but didn't.

For me, it all boils down to the single sentence I wrote in my previous post on this subject: "...how many of you want to see photos of your dead mother or father or sister or brother or aunt or uncle published in a splashy coffee-table book for the sordid amusement of others?"

My guess is no one.

Eric Sauder
 
Oct 23, 2000
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Shelly and James,

Interesting viewpoints.
I agree that showing pictures of dead people crosses the line of good taste and respect for the victim's families, and I believe that the Lucy program did tread the line of good taste with such stuff.
What I was postulating was that it wasn't done on purpose to boost ratings, but, rather, in an attempt to show the cost of it all.

Shelly,

My comment on inverviewing Dr. Ballard was said semi-tounge-in cheek. Right now, I'd be like a microbe in the face of all the others clamoring for an int. with the good doctor. :)
Regarding the coal dust, it was indeed first brought up regarding the T., but the first time I personally ever heard of it being mentioned with the Lucy was after Bob's visit.

James,

"A photo capturing children smiling up at their mother, all soon to die together, is incredibly sad. A photo of a woman with eyes rolled back, jaw slackended and facial discoloration is just disturbing, wouldn't you agree?"

Yes, yes, yes, I do. But in the program a poigant thing WAS featured that pretty much showed a victim in life: the note written as the Lucy was going down and all hell was breaking lose. The one which said something like "Haven't got much time to write. Going down with Lusitania off Old Head Kinsale. M. McMannis. Goodbye."
Did that not give words to a slaughtered innocent?
Say, pardon my asking, but how could you tell those poor souls were identified?

Eric,

"I know the director fairly well"

Could you give me a few other examples of his ratings-boosting antics? You could send it to me privately if you like.
Thanks!

Richard K.
 
Oct 23, 2000
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(Waving a white flag here. :) )
I conceed that the National Geographic Lucy program probably might have wobbled across the line of good taste and tried for the ratings.
That said, I hereby conclude my participation in this debate.

Richard K.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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FWIW, I have some serious reservations about the coal dust theory. Not that I can dismiss it out of hand. Having grown up in Pennsylvania's coal country, I'm well aquainted with how violent such explosions can be. However, after a crossing of the cold North Atlantic, condensate would have to be considered too. Enough of it to dampen the dust would make it virtually impossible for a coal dust explosion to occur.

I'm more inclined to beleive it was a boiler explosion myself.(Though I could be dead wrong) The Lucy didn't have time to blow off steam and the boiler room was opened up rather abruptly by that torpedo. That sudden inrush of cold water hitting the boilers would to put it mildly, have been dramatic.

In regards Ballard, I have to give credit where it is due. It was a team under his direction which found the Titanic where others had tried and failed, and the discovery opened up avenues of research and forensics studies that would otherwise have been impossible.

Would somebody else have found the wreck eventually? Probably, but when, and how much information would have been made unobtainable by the decay of the ship? Ballard and Co. got there first though so we don't have to wonder about that. Things are known now that were unknown befor. Dr. Ballard may be a grandstander and a legend in his own mind,(or maybe not. I don't know him so how can I say?) but I have to grant him that much.

In regards the display of corpses in their coffins, I have to throw in with Eric Sauder on this one. Showing them off on international TV in all their gory glory was in excruciatingly bad taste. We have to remember that these were real people with freinds and loved ones, some of whom are still with us. Seeing something like that shown for the sake of ratings couldn't have made their day.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Bill Sauder

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Michael:

I have major reservations about the coal dust theory too and expressed them to Dr. Ballard at the time of the expedition. Ballard, however, decided that that's what happened so that's his theory. (or contrariwise).

My objections were based on condensation preventing dust from being thrown up and oxidation rendering the dust non explosive (coal dust is explosive only for a short time after exposure to the atmosphere). I was told that the violence of the torpedo impact could have broken up fresh coal and that was the source of the dust explosion.

I also asked at a meeting of Ballard, his munitions expert, and the National Geographic crew if anybody could cite an example of a ship being lost to coal dust explosion. All I got was a pointedly irritated stare and the meeting continued.

As for boiler explosion contributing to the loss my feeling that there was a rupture in a steam line or pressure vessel, but not an explosion in the classic sense of the word.

Steam pressure fell from 150 to 50 psi right after the first explosion but there are survivors from No 1 and 2 boiler rooms that testify that no explosion occurred. My feeling is that either the percussion of the detonation made a steam pipe "whip" and break OR when water came in contact with one of the boilers a rupture in the pressure vessel occurred INTERNALLY in one of the furnaces, not in the external shell.


Bill Sauder
 
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