Secret Search


Apr 8, 2008
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Viewed a recent broadcast of "Inside Edition" Where Dr Ballard was reported to have stated that Titanic wasn't the main priority of the 1985 search but that he was on a secret mission for the U. S. Navy to find the wrecks of the USS Scorpion and Thresher. I seem to remember that both wrecks had been found and photographed by 1985?

[Moderator's Note: This thread, originally placed in the "General Titanica » General Memorabilia" subtopic has been moved to this subtopic addressing the various expeditions to the wreck. MAB]
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I seem to remember that both wrecks had been found and photographed by 1985? <<

They had been, but not as well. I'm afraid the secret mission thing is a bit melodramatic since the general particulars of this story has been known for years. All that's happened is that the details have been released as to what the expedition was up to. Finding the wrecks wasn't the issue. Assessing their condition and whether or not the reactors posed an environmental threat was.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>And there ARE rumors that the Titanic was found by the Navy accidentally with sonar in the late 70s.<<

There are always rumours. This one might have a grain of truth buried in it somewhere though I'm a bit skeptical of it. A lot of what was done even back then would be still be highly classified information. Read that to mean Top Secret/Special Compartmented Information which is about as closely held as it gets.

Still, they spent a lot of time looking for the ship where it wasn't, and the place where she turned out to be was checked almost as an afterthought. If Dr. Ballard had that information, he may have been skeptical of it and not without good reason. Sonar would only tell you that something is there without telling you what it is. Even the best Cold war technology had it's limits.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Our storied Cold Warriors may well have stumbled onto a different wreck as well. Don't forget how "safe" it was from 1939 to 1945 on that stretch of the ocean. (Thank you very much Admiral Doenitz.) Plenty of candidates out there and not all of them small.

In any event, Sam makes a good point about discovery. Any fool can switch on the sonar and say "something is there" but it takes a deliberate effort to actually look for, find, and positively identify something for what it is while understanding the signifigence of what they were doing. That's what seperates Ballard's team from the rest of the pack.
 
Feb 23, 2007
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Having met Dr. Ballard a few years ago, the impression I got was that the Titanic was a tool to gain support for and test out his deep sea research equipment. It was a high visibility target whereas his other projects while being highly important to the scientific world and perhaps militarily important weren't getting the support needed. Just my impression. He gave a talk in Akron and didn't even want to talk about the Titanic. He brushed off questions during the talk and only met with my father and I as a courtesy afterwards because of my Grandfather being a survivor. Again this was the impression he left with me. for what it is worth.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Dr. Ballard may not have been free to discuss all the down to the nitty gritty details back then. Classified missions are funny that way. Even when you can finally mention some of the general details, you're not free to go into the specifics.

While the expeditions to the graves of the Thresher and Scorpion have been known for several years now, the full story has not, and it's not as if Dr. Ballard may not have wanted to talk about that.

He just couldn't.
 
Feb 23, 2007
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Michael,
I understand about classified information having held several security clearances when I was in the Navy. My point was he did not want to talk about anything Titanic. When asked even the most generalized questions about what he felt when he found it and those type of questions he hurriedly brushed them aside to talk about his other deep sea exploration missions. He gave quite detailed information about the technical aspects of the equipment used as well as locations ships and anything else you could imagine. He just did not want to talk about the Titanic. It really was ironic because the information and advertisements done to promote the talk made a big deal of his discovering of the Titanic and left the impression with most that that would be a main topic. Perhaps it was not his intention. But like I said it is only my opinion from my personal observation.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Invoking Occam's Razor here: Sounds to me like Dr. Ballard is tired or the subject. I can see how this would happen. The discovery may have made his name a household word, but when it's all anybody ever asks you about for the next 23 years and you've moved on to other things...hell, I'd get bored with it too.
 
Feb 23, 2007
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Quite possible Michael It was probably 10 years ago I'm thinking but I could be wrong. Unfortunately if you are the man who discovered it and they advertise it that way you really must expect to be asked about it whether you like it or not. It could have been that he was having a bad day also. I could see where you could get worn down with any topic.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I could see where you could get worn down with any topic.<<

And you may have some personal experience with that when people take an interest in your own reletive. There have to be times when you find yourself wishing they would just let it go.
 

Bill Willard

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I'm going to be alone on this thread I think, but what has Ballard done SINCE Titanic? Had he moved on, past Titanic and Bismarck, he would be asked about ALL of his work. Instead, he comes back with National Geographic TO Titanic, and he should expect that to be a topic of discussion in major proportions throughout his life.

After Titanic, he made news making statements and comments about Titanic. HE led the press efforts. Even lately Ballard makes claims that puts the Titanic community in an uproar. If HE wants the people to drop it, he should drop it also.

Ballard made headlines in every newspaper throughout the civilized world when he found Titanic. Did he think the public would say thank you and forget about it? He's made a lucrative career off just the one find. He would be little known had he not found Titanic, and furthermore probably wouldn't have been able to find the Bismarck. He earned the right to be where he is; he should enjoy it and use it to better himself and the world (which he has done - underwater archaeology has grown in leaps and bounds since he discovered Titanic).

Just my 4 cents (inflation hits us all).
 
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Jeff Kelley

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You have a good point, but I think it might be slightly unfair to Ballard. He has done quite a bit of underwater research since TITANIC - research that has not made in into a coffee table book or onto a National Geographic television special, or at least not to the extent of the TITANIC find.

I do agree, though, that he could be a bit less unwilling to be identified with the find that made him famous. At times he does remind me of actors who made it big with one show but then don't want to be associated with that character in the minds of fans.

I still give him the benefit of the doubt, since he did not grab some souvenirs from the TITANIC (as I almost certainly would have been tempted to do if I were in his shoes). If he were in it for fame and fortune I think he would have done some "harvesting" when he discovered the ship. I do think it was a high-profile springboard for other expeditions, but the achievement stands on it's own merit.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>but what has Ballard done SINCE Titanic?<<

Quite a bit in terms of looking for and finding wrecks. The Yorktown, what was left of the Kaga, the DKM Bismarck, expeditions to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the wrecks of Iron Bottom Sound, and what was most likely what was left of the PT-109, some work with the Lusitania...he's hardly been inactive.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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In addition to what Mike stated, Dr. Ballard has also been involved with discovering the 11 warships that made up the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, during World War II. He is also heavily involved with the JASON Project, as he is it's chairman.
 
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Matt Pereira

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Michael, I have seen a video on youtube that is talking about Bob Ballard and it goes into detail about the whole searching for the thresher and the scorpion subs but he elaborated to check on the nuke torpedo's as he said in one and to see if the soviets were rummaging around there cause it was still the cold war in the 80`s and that the search for the Titanic was a cover story. I just personally see Bob now a days as someone that just doesnt want anything to remain of the Titanic for future generations to be able to see. He went on complaining like a baby in the first part about human interaction is destorying the Titanic but funny because I thought the Titanic was rotting away on her own if people go explore her or not.

But besides that I find it kinda strange that he is now coming out saying that the Titanic was a cover story.

I do know he did do alot but in regards of Titanic I dont think he has did much personally.

I have to make this update to it, I got to the last portion of the tv recording on youtube and Ballard actually said that when Titanic Inc pulled the mast head light from the foremast that they knocked the Crows nest off and crushed the mast down. Why is he making up lies? I remember Cameron in Ghosts of the Abyss in 2001 the mast was straight across then In 2003 i belive it was Parks website had pictures dated 2003 that showed the forward mast collasped even more. Not to mention first ballard said in the video that he wants to see all the artifacts remain on the ocean floor where they belong then near the end of the show he stated that hes ok with them removing specific items but not all. I didnt know there was a grey area when it comes to pro salvage/anti salvage.

Either way I will stop venting on Ballard.
 
Apr 3, 2005
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I'm actually surprised that the mast and crow's nest held up as long as they did. Didn't james cameron seem to think that the remains of the crow's nest were possibly found nearby? Or was that Parks?
As for the 2 subs, i think that they needed to ascertain the condition of the wreckage to make sure it wouldn't be causing any problems. I thought the Titanic search was more of a test of the new RoV's and imaging equipment more than anything else actually. Finding Titanic was just the icing on the cake imho.
 
Jan 29, 2001
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After 1 Sept. '85 Dr. Ballard also was on a fruitless expedtion to find a Japanese mini-sub which violated Pearl Harbor, only to be sunk by a U.S. Navy vessel. The sub was located by another individual at a later date.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
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Matt Pereira

Guest
Richard well from what Bob said in the video he said that he first entered one of the subs and checked out what he said the "nuclear torpedos" and then he rushed over to find the Titanic which was a perfect cover story to keep the communist russians from knowing what the US navy was really doing. But that doesnt bother me what bothers me is his lack of knowledge of the Titanic and the fact of blaiming people that shouldnt have been blaimed. He blaimed the same people (Titanic Inc) that removed the mast head light off the mast head for crumpling the foremast down in its current condition but yet in Ghost of the Abyss from 2001 you see the mast is just like it was in Jim`s Titanic 1997 and that the mast only recently collasped down around 2003.

That is what bothers me is that he said that and then he went on to say that the engineers all stayed below deck but I was reading an article on here that was saying other wise.
 

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