Dear Bob an open letter to Robert Ballard


Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Good for PH! He finally threw back at Bob Ballard, his lies and innuendos! Perhaps NG should do some more investigative style reporting the next time they offer Ballard a special!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Would like to see that letter photocopied and distributed at The Good Doctor's appearance this coming Friday. Were I not working late that day, and early the next I'd ponder doing it myself. It says, accurately and lucidly, everything that needed to be said for a very long time, and it was a great start to the day finding it in my mailbox. I've been irritated by his gaseous sanctimony for a very long time, particularly with regards to George Tulloch specifically and salvage in general, and so this was like a breath of fresh air.
 
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Richard Coplen

Guest
I have to say having read that letter I completely agree with Commander Paul-Henri Nargeolet. After watching Ballard's "Return to Titanic" I was sickened by his OTT criticism of those that have dived to the wreck. His commentary was riddled with inaccuracies such as when he described Madeleine Astor as Lady Astor!!! Of all things - that is the most unbelievably ignorant thing to say. As someone who has been "obsessed" with the Titanic wreck you'd think he would have known such a major fact as that. As Commander Nargeolet said Ballard is a geologist and not a wreck-expert. He should stick to what he is best at. As for the recovery of items from the wreck and the "commercial exploitation" of a disaster, well, I haven't made my mind up about that. It's 50:50 in my mind. Ballard may have helped sow my interest in the Titanic but the likes of Tulloch and Cameron have increased that a trillion-fold. They have given the Titanic the respect and adoration that it and those that played a part in its story deserve. I mean where would the likes of this web-site be without the popular interest the likes of Tulloch and Cameron created in this wreck.
Just a thought or two.
Rich.
 

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Bob's managed to make a nice tidy mint for himself, writing books using data obtained using US Navy funds. As for the sale of photos to US and Canadian networks, I'm hoping that a friend of mine is reading this and will provide some more info about the latent greed involved in the 1985 "discovery".
 

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Also, let us not forget the truth about Ballards "complete photographic record" that he alluded to in 1987 in "Discovery of the Titanic". Lets see what he missed:

The boilers in boiler room 2 (albeit very dangerous to navigate down there, but he only made one effort);
The huge hole on the starboard side below the well deck;
The area of the D deck gangway doors on the port side;
The area below the expansion joint on the starboard side;
The forward part of the hull on the port side, foreward of the well deck.
The port and starboard propellors.

Indeed, as Ballard later said, the main excursion around the hull was to simply study the iceberg damage.

By the way, there is an error in PH Nargolet's letter: Ballard did let a couple of Alvin/Navy trainees down to the wreck on one occasion. It was they who found that one of the D deck starboard doors was open.
 
Sep 26, 2009
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I have in my files the August, 1987 issue of Smithsonian magazine with an article by Joy Waldron Murphy entitled "The search for the Titanic is over but now a rush for the 'gold' has begun". On page 65, we read:

"An extraordinary shroud of secrecy surrounded Woods Hole during the spring and summer of 1985. Although the chief sponsor of the American operation was the U.S. Navy, Ballard's spokesman, a high-powered Ontario media-entertainment lawyer named Mike Levine, imposed a complete news blackout. IFREMER thought it had an agreement with Ballard to release jointly any news resulting from their work at sea. But after the Titanic was located, arrangements were made to have a videotape airlifted off the research ship by helicopter. This tape was sold through a private entity in Canada called White Star to CBS-TV. Navy and Woods Hole officials were embarrassed; (Jean-Louis)Michel was enraged."
 
May 12, 2005
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Many thanks to Phil Hind for posting this letter, and to TIS for making it available. It is high time the truth was told "officially" by someone with the credentials that the Commander has. My hat’s off to him for breaking his silence, and exposing Ballard and his fraud.
 
Sep 26, 2009
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Another quote from Joy Waldron Murphy's article about the Titanic in the August, 1987 issue of Smithsonian magazine. On page 62 we read:

"The 44 year-old Ballard, a dynamic and charming scientist who once worked as a porpoise trainer at Sea-life Park in Hawaii, heads up the Deep Submergence Laboratory at Woods Hole. In the late 1970s, he proposed to find and photograph the Titanic using the vessel Alcoa Seaprobe, outfitted with a camera lowered on lengths of drill pipe. His follow-up plan was to descend to the ship in the Alvin, a submersible that had been used in his pioneering geological work. In a camera test off the New England coast, however, the drill pipe broke, effectively putting an end to that idea.
About the same time, Ballard formed a private company called Seaonics International Ltd, with photographer Emory Kristof and several others. In June, 1978, Kristof boarded the Coast Guard cutter Evergreen at St. John's Newfoundland. Destination: 41 degrees 46 minutes north, 50 degrees, 14 minutes west. Just north of the reported sinking site, Kristof deployed his cameras to check out the systems and conditions on the bottom. The resulting pictures indicated that visibility was good for more than 100 feet and that the current was nearly nonexistent."

A Google search for Seaonics International Ltd. and Titanic leads one to the French website on Titanic expeditions that has been linked on this message board before. Taking the paragraph from this website and translating from French to English using Babelfish, we get:

1978, Dr. Robert Ballard created the company Seaonics International Ltd. in collaboration with William (Bill) H. Tantum IV, President/cofounder of Titanic Historical Society. The objective was to seek the wreck and to envisage its exploration. The group included/understood several scientists of foreground and the explorers. The funds necessary to towed submarines creation able to photograph the wreck were however not found and the project failed.

From my own knowledge, the fourth partner in Seaonics International Ltd. was Alan Ravenscroft, film producer.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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http://www.titanicinternationalsociety.org/articles.html will bring you to four further articles containing critical analysis and information in support of Capt. Nargeolet. I , too, applaud the convictions and courage of this man, who better than any other, knew the inner workings of what really happened behind the scenes of the discovery and recovery operations. The importance of this letter to the entire Titanic community, not only Voyage subscribers, was realized, and we are appreciative ET provided a space to share this letter with everyone, everywhere.
 

Eric Paddon

Member
Jun 4, 2002
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All I can say as one who has been shouting the truth about Robert Ballard's deceit for years, starting with his lie about "The crows nest is gone, undoubtedly in the act of getting at the ship's telephone" that remains in print to this day, thank God that P.H. finally stood up to this man who has leeched more money and personal fame off the Titanic than any other individual in the last 20 years and yet has had the nerve to blast salvors as those who were out for personal glory.

In the past, Ballard could always count on his band of yes-men and women in Titanic discussion forums to shield him from all forms of criticism (in particular the late Mr. ESP), but hopefully this letter can be seen as a sign that those days are long numbered and the truth regarding who has done more for the Titanic since 1986 can finally overtake Ballard's endless sea of lies and self-glorification.
 

Tim Brandsoy

Member
Feb 19, 2002
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James, there's a new article on ET, "Dear Bob....An Open letter to Robert Ballard"

Very enlightening!

I knew there was a lot of animosity toward Dr. Ballard and his posturing (grandstanding) on the issues and facts of his dives. But....WOW....I had no idea how far, wide and deep it went.

No wonder the French hate us! It's not the first time an American Dr. stole the credit from a joint French/US project. Dr. Gallo was another megalomaniac in Randy Shilts'1987 "And the Band Played On: People, Politics, and the AIDS Epidemic"

It's not terribly surprising that even a doctor can be subject to greed and avarice when large sums of money and prestige are at stake.
 

John Clifford

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Mar 30, 1997
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I will print out and read P.H. Nargolet's letter tonight, when I get home (right now I'm on my lunch hour at IRS).

Now I wonder how many people at this weekend's THS Event will want to ask Doctor Ballard about the letter and its contents. I'd wager a lunch or dinner on the Queen Mary that Doctor Ballard will need to address some of the statements made by P.H.

I will not be at the THS Event (am saving my vacation time for February's Queen Mary 2 Hawaii trip). If anyone from ET will be in Massachusetts, this weekend, please let us know what the reaction is from Doctor Ballard, both in prepared remarks and from questions raised by attendees.
 
Oct 23, 2004
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I disagree with any attempt to make Robert Ballard out to be a greater villain in the Titanic saga that J. Bruce Ismay. I prefer genuine enlightenment on a subject rather than a lot of useless fireworks. The fact is many people deserve some credit in bringing this 1912 sea disaster to the attention and greater awareness of the general public. Any effort to remove Ballard's name from that list in order for another's personal aggrandizement is simply an idiotic venture. Let's put the focus on something really important-- such as all the people who were overtaken on that night of 14-15 April 1912 and had absolutely no idea of what forces were putting them in harm's way.
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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This has nothing to do with making Ballard a "greater villain in the Titanic saga," nor does it have anything to do with removing his name from any list when it comes to justified accomplishments. This has to do with holding him accountable for his public lies, and public slanders of many good, decent people who have collectively done far more to perpetuate interest in the Titanic since 1987 than Robert Ballard has done. Can you justify Ballard's smear job of George Tulloch with lies about non-existent crows-nest telephones etc. etc.? Or his attempt to minimize the involvement of other members of his 85 team in finding the wreck? Or his inconsistent positions on salvage that he fudges the record on to justify his smear jobs of those who have salvaged the wreck?

My definition of a true "idiotic venture" is that which tries to whitewash Ballard's misdeeds and suggest that telling the truth regarding this man is somehow demeaning the Titanic tragedy. Defend Ballard by saying the factual record supports him (which would be hard to do) but let's dispense with the sideshow argument.
 

John Clifford

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Mar 30, 1997
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quote:

Would like to see that letter photocopied and distributed at The Good Doctor's appearance this coming Friday.
In my own opinion, I would be extremely careful about doing such a thing. It's one thing to show it to people when not in an assembly area, such as talking to people in private locations.

However, walking around and handing copies out before Doctor Ballard's speech could lead to any materials being confiscated, as well as one being asked to leave the Castle of Knights and/or the THS Headquarters.

I am certain that people will have their own thoughts and ideas about the Nargolet letter; it is best to raise the issue in a question-and-answer period, but do it politely and tactfully.
People tend to dislike the person who disrupts a meeting, needlessly.

The above comments and statements made are my own, and not sanctioned or approved by Phil.​
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Actually Dr. Ballard has been sent this material, so it would come as no surprise to him. I expect, if asked, he will say, "No Comment".
 
Sep 26, 2009
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In an earlier post I quoted from Joy Waldron Murphy's article in the 1987 Smithsonian magazine about Emory Kristof going to the Titanic's official sinking location to take photos of the bottom with his "boomerang" camera. Two other individuals were with him on the Evergreen. Also, Ralph White was with Ballard on both the French and the American legs of the expedition. From the Canadian Titanic Society's biography of Ralph White:

1978: Cameraman for the National Geographic Photographic team of Emory Kristof and Al Chandler that first deployed a 12,500 foot Deep Ocean Imaging & Lighting Systems from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter "EVERGREEN" over the purported sinking site of the TITANIC, 41 degrees 46 min­utes north, 50 degrees 14 minutes west.

1985: Cameraman for the four man American Team of Dr. Robert Ballard, Emory Kristof, and Billy Lang, from Woodshole to begin phase one (the sonar search) for the R.M.S. TITANIC aboard the EFREMER Research Vessel "LE SUROIT" utilizing the French "S.A.R." Side Scan Sonar System.

Cameraman for the phase two (Electronic Imaging Search) aboard the Woodshole Research Vessel "KNORR", which found the wreck of the TITANIC on September 1, 1985 utilizing the towed vehicles "Jason & ARGO".
 
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Jeffrey Beaudry

Guest
I honestly did not know about all of this with Bob Ballard. One thing that I did notice that seemed odd though:

"When you were in a junkyard looking at the Lusitania’s propeller, you were sad, and I am, too. Then you said you would understand and agree to the propeller’s recovery if it was for a museum. Are Lusitania artifacts good for exhibition but Titanic’s artifacts are not? Are they not both “historic” wrecks?"

The difference between the the artifacts is that the propeller was in a junkyard. If I was Ballard, I would've saved the propeller.

Also, what exactly is happening this weekend? I live in Massachusetts.
 

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