Bob Ballard


Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Alright, I am finally sitting down to watch the Discovery Channel programme on the return ot the wreck site. I don't know if our friends in the US got it, but here in the UK, we had a few hours worth of documentaries before the "main show". The first, which I am sitting through, seems to be a hybrid of a 1995 Channel 4 (UK) show and new interviews. In it, Bollard says that he changed his mind (pro-artefact recovery) when Ken Marshall saw pictures of the shoes, which I didn't know about before.
Bollard also says that he considers archaelogy necessary when nothing is known about the ship, stating that we know lots about the two sister ships, which is a valid point I suppose....

Comments anyone?

Paul
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Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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Ballard is not telling the truth (again).

He was adopting the "take no artifacts period" position in all of his television interviews from the wreck site and after he immediately returned. The pattern of his opinions are one of consistency from day one before the TV cameras, and that strange deviation in favor of salvage before Congress which he has never directly addressed.

As for saying that artifacts from a sister ship tell all we need to know that is just ridiculous. Artifacts from the Olympic can never have the same value to history for the simple reason that they are not from the Titanic and thus are not part of a famous event in history. They might as well be replicas made for Cameron's movie in terms of providing a connection to the event that artifacts in a museum setting are supposed to do. But even absent that, we have already discovered that the two ships were not as identical in every last detail as we thought and Ballard is doing nothing more than engaging in the "chronological snobbery" argument that attempts to place value on artifacts relevance to history by the age criteria, which in every history graduate course is a criteria you are taught to disregard on day one.
 
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Dec 2, 2000
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>>Bollard also says that he considers archaelogy necessary when nothing is known about the ship, stating that we know lots about the two sister ships, which is a valid point I suppose.... <<

It is? I can't say as I agree with that one. How much has been learned about the ship that was forgotten by history just by going down and taking a look? Quite a bit if Ken Marschall's Report is any indication, and if Ghosts of the Abyss does anything, it tells us that we don't quite know what we think we do.

I wonder what else could be learned if, for example, as much of the wireless rig as possible were to be brought to the surface and restored?
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>I wonder what else could be learned if, for example, as much of the wireless rig as possible were to be brought to the surface and restored?<<

The question is: Can it be, Michael? The thing has been down there so long and has deteriorated to a point that any such restoration would be fruitless. Furthermore, there may not even be enough left of it to ascertain reliable information, depending on what information we'd be looking for. I know that Parks has said a lot about this, but I'm curious as to what he'd think about retrieving the entire Wireless mechanism (or what little is left of it).

Another point to consider is the safety factor. This is inside the ship (albeit on the boat deck and near an opening). How easy and safe would such an extraction be from the Marconi room? What kind of damage can potentially be caused? Those decks are not the most stable any more, and the necessary pressure required to remove the Wireless, when applied to the deck or the remaining walls, could spell: CRUNCH!...

By the way, have any boots been found in the Marconi room? I'm curious about Bride's story...
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The question is: Can it be, Michael? The thing has been down there so long and has deteriorated to a point that any such restoration would be fruitless.<<

I'm not so sure about that. Parks has expressed a conterary opinion and I'll stand aside so he can speak to that if he so chooses. He's the one who mentioned that it would be possible to restore that rig to operating condition. While I'm willing to conceed that he could be mistaken on that point, I've had dealings with him on and off list that span nearly five years and if he's convinced that something is do-able, you better believe he has a damned good reason for it.

>>Furthermore, there may not even be enough left of it to ascertain reliable information, depending on what information we'd be looking for.<<

Pick up a copy of Ghosts Of The Abyss. There was enough left that they were able to develop information that was lost even from the historical records of the Marconi Corperation. As to the safety factor, I'm all too aware of it. If there's any chance that this rig can in fact be recovered...regardless of whether a restoration is possible, it's going to have to be done soon. The condition of the ship is not getting better.
 

Thomas Balle

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i think it's important that we get as much as possible recovered from the ship or filmed down in the ship. it's very important that they keep doing dives and search through the ship. and, as someone already said, the two ships (titanic and olympic) were not as identical as we thought before we started exploring the ship. just watch the ghosts of the abyss dvd.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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I have both the book and the DVD. I've read the book and viewed the DVD. Very enlightening.

I've talked with Parks through email as well (plan on resuming those emails as soon as I can). Very interesting discussion. I have a lot of faith in his assessments. I was just posing points of consideration. I don't remember whether or not he had mentioned them, as I haven't had a chance to see that as of yet.

Still, it would be great to see the Wireless raised after all those years. I wonder where it would be kept. As for restoring it, that would be great also. I'm wondering if it could still function when restored. Hmmm.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Still, it would be great to see the Wireless raised after all those years.<<

As would I. It would be even better if restoration to operating condition would be possible. Unfortunately, the hazards you pointed to are all too real. Wreck diving is not for amatures or the faint hearted.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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I hope much of the Marconi Room equipment is recovered- but by whom?
RMS Titanic Inc's future is embroiled in constant litigation, so they are not a particularly stable entity......
Much of the Marconi room equipment appears so fragile it would crumble at the slightest touch....


Regards


Tarn Stephanos
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I wasn't aware of this conversation until someone pointed it out to me. The title doesn't really indicate that a wireless telegraph discussion is going on in here. I thought instead that it was about bitts and bollards and the like...

Here's a random thought...is it just me or does the actor cast as Lightoller in Cameron's "Titanic" resemble Dr. Ballard?

Never mind...just a stray thought from a tired mind.

Regarding the wireless apparatus...I have spoken with Marconi historians, wireless telegraph artefact collectors, museum conservationists and fellow members of the Antique Wireless Association about what remains in Titanic's wreck. We all share the opinion that if the motor-generator set and disc discharger could somehow be pulled intact from the wreck, it could be restored to operating condition. I'm not sure if the condensers, transformer and choking coils would survive recovery, but they are not required to generate the original spark (an alternate power source could provide the raw power for the spark in their stead). Likewise, the switchboards and regulators could be replicated by more modern electronics and still not alter the character of the spark that the original disc discharger would create. What you really need to bring back MGY's distinctive voice is her motor-generator set and disc discharger.

The problem is how to recover such heavy objects from inside the wreck? Luckily, the apparatus is on the Boat Deck, so there's just a disintegrating thin steel deck and the panelled false ceiling in the way. There's no other way to bring that heavy machinery to the surface (ever wonder how they brought Cal's safe to the surface in Cameron's "Titanic"?...I have) but to remove the overhead. Now, who's willing to do that?

I am. At least I will be after one more trip inside the Silent Room to complete the documentation of the interior. Only problem is, NOAA (in their role as enforcer of the new protection treaty) would never allow such an operation. RMST is not allowed to remove such an artefact from the wreck...their recovery operations are confined largely to the debris field. The other option would be to wait for the overhead to collapse (if it hasn't already since the IFE and RMST expeditions last year) and then hope that the apparatus is still accessible and an argument could be made that the recovery of the apparatus is of more historical importance than leaving it where it lies.

You know, there's an intact Multiple Tuner lying right in the Britannic wreck where divers could just pick it up and bring it back with them. Wouldn't you like to see that? There's nothing remaining in Titanic's Marconi Room but the charging switchboard and that's just not as sexy as a Tuner.

There's no boots visible in the Marconi Room. The room is nothing but a flat, almost-featureless space. The water forced back through the Officers' Quarters did a good job of destroying the room, and being located between the steel walls of the Officers' W.C. and the Elevator Machinery Room didn't help. There's no heap of debris that once was the operators' desk and all the receiving apparatus...all that was thrown out the aft wall, down the athwartships corridor and into Stateroom Z and out to the Grand Entrance area. If there once was a stoker's body there, it was carried away with the rest of the room's contents.

Right now, we have to content ourselves with documenting the interior as thoroughly as possible before the fragile OQ complex completely collapses and we can document no more. Think of the Gymnasium, and you'll know what I mean.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The other option would be to wait for the overhead to collapse (if it hasn't already since the IFE and RMST expeditions last year) and then hope that the apparatus is still accessible and an argument could be made that the recovery of the apparatus is of more historical importance than leaving it where it lies.<<

And therein lies the rub. When the overhead goes, it's just as likely that it'll take everything else in that space along with it. About that multiple tuner on the Britannic, is it the same as the one used on the Titanic's rig?
 
May 9, 2001
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Parks, isn't the motor-generator set the largest, heaviest component inside the silent room? And isn't it bolted to the floor? (Maybe I'm thinking of the alternator. I need to review your work in 'Ghosts' to refresh my understanding of the different apperatus.) But, strictly from a salvage standpoint, how could this component be removed without damage to the item? Is there an ROV capable of carrying a cutting torch down with it that would function at that depth, and in such a tight space?

I'm just curious of how 'surgical' a recovery like this would be, or how 'sloppy' it could become if not done carefully. I'm sure these questions are similar to the questions that will be asked by any governing authority.
Thanks.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Michael,

The Multiple Tuner sitting inside the Britannic wreck is identical to Titanic's. I just finished a side-by-side visual comparison for the lead diver from the 2003 expedition for use in a Technical Diving conference being held in Australia in a couple of weeks. You can overlay Titanic's tuner with the dive footage from Britannic and see an exact match. I'm doing the same comparision for him with an engine-order telegraph at the moment.

Yuri,

Yes, the M-G set is the heaviest object and bolted to the floor. I didn't say it would be easy. The motor, alternator and disc discharger are mounted on a common bedplate, so all three would have be lifted as one. The bedplate itself is completely buried in the sediment. But there's the silver lining to the dark cloud...the bedplate is the only thing that must be cut from the deck and will help to stabilise the other components during recovery. And maybe the holddown bolts are corroded enough that the entire assembly could be lifted without cutting the deck. However, none of this can be accomplished without removing the overhead first.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>However, none of this can be accomplished without removing the overhead first.<<

And the question that goes begging here is can it be done safely? My bet is if it's ever attempted, it's going to take some really brave crews in manned submersibles to do the job. I don't know of an ROV anywhere designed for this sort of thing.
 

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Going back to the original point: on the A&E documentary, Ballard said that while he was at the wreck site in 1985, he and Jean Louis Michel were so moved they vowed not to desecrate (or whatever word they used) the wreck. Obviously not the truth, but Michel is very quite on this matter.

Are there any other instances of Bollard not telling the truth, other than his 1985 Senate testimony?

Cheers

Paul
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May 9, 2001
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Like him or not, it seems poor form to continue to mock the man by intentionally misspelling his name online. It's Ballard. Not Bollard.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Yuri's right on target. ET's reputation as a whole suffers every time its members engage in pointless personal asides. I have been surprised to find that there are many more who are familiar with what is said here than you would suspect by the active rolls. This is a public meeting place...we should behave ourselves as if we were talking face to face.

Michael, as it stands right now, no entity is authorised to remove the Silent Room overhead, even if the technical challenges could be overcome. The new protection treaty, even though still unsigned by the US, is observed by NOAA. NOAA, in turn, ensures that other entities (IFE, RMST, Earthship) abide by the spirit of the treaty. In effect, the bow section is to be respected, not disassembled. It would take quite a bit to make a case for cutting into the wreck, even a disintegrating section of superstructure. If the legal road were clear, and the demand enough was great, then the technical aspects of removing the Marconi M-G set could be solved.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Yuri's right on target.<<

I agree. Whether we realize it or not, this site and the forum have a reputation that's internationally recognized and for that reason, we can count on being under a microscope. I realize that there are a lot of people who have reason to differ with and dislike Dr. Ballard but let's deal with the issues in controversy rather then engage in pointless ad hominums.
 

Paul Lee

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Yuri,
I am deliberately spelling his name wrong!

Besides the original point of this article was on Ballard's changing attitude over the years. Its been hijacked by the (admittedly interesting) "recover the Marconi" thread.

Paul
 

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