Titanic discovered before 1985


Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Hi all,
This may sounds strange, but maybe someone has more information on this.

Sometime between 1994 and 1996, I was a member of the Titanic mailing list. Another patron of the list was called Anderson. He was a goldmine of information on the Titanic and was only forced to unsubscribe when some juvenile idiot decided to mailbomb him after he was less than complimentary abut Dr.Ballard's egocentricity.

Anyway, that sets the scene. One of the many posts that this guy wrote was about the discovery of the Titanic before WHOI/IFREMER's 1985 expedition. According to Anderson, some years before, a group of people, probably US Navy were doing some experiments with a sonar in the wreck site area when they found a large ship in two pieces sitting on the ocean floor. Anderson would also be told by Bill Tantum's widow that Bill had been shown an image of the Titanic's stern many years before the Ballard find. The story is that a camera package was lowered into the sea and managed to get just one picture before breaking down.

Now, this does sound preposteruous I know, but maybe others have heard similar stories?

Best wishes

Paul
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I've heard some variations of this and I wouldn't say "Impossible." The variation I heard involved deep ocean surveys which identifed the metallic mass of the ship. Whether any of this is actually true, I have no idea. If some part of it is and it involved the military, the information is probably buried in one of those secret files marked SUICIDE BEFOR READING or something equally blunt.
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Unfortunately, "I Heard" is not exactly renowned as a source that can be trusted.
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Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Agreed! It certainly is intriguing.

I often wonder what happened to Mr.Anderson (I can't remember his first name!)...its as if he vanished off the face of the planet.
 
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Nicolas Roughol

Guest
Well, it may not be impossible after all. But if indeed such a thing happened, I wonder why it didn't make the news at the time. I mean, even if she had been found by US Navy years before Ballard did, no matter how much secrecy usually surrounds every army around the globe, don't you think that she would have made the news then?
 

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Well, it does depend on what the militia were doing in the area.... and believe me, the military can, and do keep secrets indefinitely.

An interesting tale... maybe Bill Tantum's widow (if she's still alive) can provide any more details?
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Paul, I think the person you're refering to is Steve Anderson, who I think I've seen out here at ET the last few months. I recall something similar from the mailing list at that time.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>But if indeed such a thing happened, I wonder why it didn't make the news at the time.<<

Because this effort...if it happened...would have been considered sensitive information to be closely held. The sensors required to pull this off would have to be pretty sensitive and this is not the sort of information you want an enemy state to have that has several thousand nuclear weapons pointed at your country.

As the circle of people who would have been privvy to the details would have been kept as small as possible because of need-to-know, the list of suspects to check out had it been leaked would have been fairly narrow. As the consequences of leaking this would have been a nice long stay in prison, would you have taken the chance?
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Just a little food for thought there.
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Dec 4, 2000
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One of the super-secret operations of the cold war was the mapping of wrecks on the bottom of the Atlantic. This was done to prevent Soviet submarines from using those wrecks as hiding places from U.S. and British sonar. Much of the information thus collected is just now becoming public.

The probability that Dr. Ballard had access to then-Classified information is rather high. I have heard stories that the coordinates used for the final, successful search were slipped to him from the British. It is doubtful that anyone had documented evidence that this wreckage was in fact Titanic. Proving what was down there required going down and looking.

Ballard went down and looked. For that, he gets the title of "finder of the Titanic." To my way of thinking, he did find the ship and bring it back to life. That he had help with the ship's coordinates takes nothing away from his efforts. After all, somebody else made the film on which those breathtaking images were recorded. Somebody else made the diving equipment. Somebody else sewed Dr. Ballard's signature ball cap. So what? He was the man who got there first.

-- David G. Brown
 

Nick Rose

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Feb 4, 2006
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"Anderson would also be told by Bill Tantum's widow that Bill had been shown an image of the Titanic's stern many years before the Ballard find."

If this picture exists, where is it and is it avalable to the public?(if its millitary, maybee not)its kinda weird that the navy didnt go back for a second look. and if the story is true, look what they missed out on, being the "heros" who found the worlds greatest liner.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>(if its millitary, maybee not)its kinda weird that the navy didnt go back for a second look.<<

Not really. The Navy had other priorities at the time, and the DSVs available to them were extremely few in number and needed for other projects. The first consideration would be identifying anomolies that submarines could use to hide their presence. Going to see exactly what it was would have been the sort of thing put on the backburner if they would take an interest at all.
 

Steve Smith

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Don't forget that the majority of Ballard's expedition WAS a military exercise - the filming of Thresher (or was it Scorpion?) While not exactly top secret, that element of it certainly wasn't picked up by the media.

Personally I'd of thought that if Ballard DID have credible evidence of a wreck site he'd have started the search in that area, rather than waiting til his search time was all but up.
Surely even the most fervent anti-Ballardista wouldn't accuse him of arranging things like that to maximise the drama...

Having said that, am I wrong or do I vaguely remember Ballard once admitting that there HAD been a report of a wreck at the location where Titanic was eventually located...a report from a certain Jack Grimm?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Perhaps splitting hairs here, but the expedition was not a military exercise, it was an expedition that was funded by the military. Rather a different animal.

The interest in this case was the USS Scorpion which sank off the Azores, and which they wanted to use to test the equipment they had which they used to locate and photograph the wreck(s). There was and remains an ongoing concern with the Scorpion and some other sunken subs over the condition of the wreck because these were nuclear powered vessels. Not surprisingly, the military wants to keep tabs on the wrecks in case something happens that could...among other things...compromise the reactors.

We take quite a bit of what was used for granted now, but back in 1985, this was cutting edge technology.
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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***The first consideration would be identifying anomolies that submarines could use to hide their presence.***

But, Michael, conventional submarines used for warfare don't go down that deep, do they? What would be the point in mapping wrecks at a depth no hostile submarine could reach?

By the way, Steve, in "Discovery of the Titanic" Ballard writes that Grimm had "tricked" them by providing a list of phony sonar targets, none of which checked out. Maybe he's said something different since then?

Jim
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>But, Michael, conventional submarines used for warfare don't go down that deep, do they?<<

No they don't

>> What would be the point in mapping wrecks at a depth no hostile submarine could reach?<<

The point would be identifying any possible source of distortion in the Earth's magnetic field that could hide the presence of a submarine. 53,000 tons of steel lying on the bottom would tend to distort things a tad. Perhaps not much, but worthwhile for a sub driver who doesn't want to be found if it's just enough to confuse a sub hunter's sensors. These guys look for any possible advantage and if they get one, you can be certain they're going to exploit it.

Especially if it keeps them from eating a torpedo for breakfast. (Rumour has it that this can really ruin your day!)
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Michael,
do you know when NATO and Russian navies started planting listening devices on the seabed, and at what depth they operate? It might be useful to put them by known wrecks which could be used for camouflage. I'm only interested because I live by a Defence Research Agency and they listen there, and my friend works there. He doesn't say much, obviously, except that they are all worried about sonar and whales, and that they 'listened' to the Kursk episode, about which he only said that it was very grim indeed.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Funny you should ask. I was reading about that, but can't remember exactly when it started. The idea wasn't a new one dating back to the thirties, it wasn't until the late 50's when anybody got around to making it happen. This link can tell you a bit more about that.

The SOSUS network was a series of underwater hydrophone arrays set up in strategic choke points that Soviet submarines would have had to transit in order to reach the open ocean, such as the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap going out to the Atlantic. The Russians were hardly unaware of it, or the general location of the hydrophones. This was one of the reasons why they used the Arctic Ice Cap as a stamping ground for some of their ballistic missile submarines. Since they wouldn't cross the SOSUS network in the first place, nobody would know where they were. Wrecks were not used to camouflage any of them and there would really have been any need as there are few submersibles which have windows to do any seeing with.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Michael,
thanks for the link - interesting.
No, I didn't mean that the wrecks could camouflage the hydrophones - they're quite small (the hydrophones). I meant that if you thought that an enemy might use the wrecks themselves, it would make sense to have a hydrophone nearby to listen.
Doesn't explain the Scorpion, at such a depth, but the military tends to think to the future, doesn't it?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Actually, the hydrophone arrays used for the SOSUS net were rather large. I saw a photo that was released to the public several years ago which depicted one being lowered into position. The diver who was standing on the thing looked decidedly small.

I don't think that an enemy sub could use any deep ocean wreck to physically hide itself...only the distortion in the local magnetic field caused by the iron to mask it's presence. I can't really speak to the matter of the Scorpion, although the wreck photos I've seen would tend to indicate some sort of accident involving one of the torpedos.

Some links on the ship can be found below.
http://www.txoilgas.com/589.html
http://www.txoilgas.com/589-court.html

The Google.com search engine results starts at http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=USS+Scorpion
 

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