Robert Ballard : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

Guess what? Robert Ballard, the guy who discovered the TITANIC on the ocean floor, came to the University of Delaware just the other day and I got to meet him. It was bizarre because I watched him walk around me for twenty minutes and didn't even recognize him. He looks different in a suit than he does in the pictures of him in books about him. Anyway he gave a 45-minute speech which was nothing short of awe-inspiring to those like me who yearn for all the information they can get about the real story. He compared trying to see on the bottom of the ocean to being in a helicopter in the Andes mountains at night in a snowstorm with a flashlight. He further stated that prior to his finding the TITANIC he never received a letter from a child. But shortly after he discovered the wreck he said he received more than 14,000 letters from children desperately wanting to know how they could be like him. In describing his work underwater, he said that in the last 15 years he has travelled no more than 40 miles altogether. He emphasized that he has seen more mud than anyone else on Earth. He was, of course, referring to the mud on the bottom of the ocean. His next big project will involve diving to the bottom of the Black Sea, where he says the lack of oxygen at the bottom should result in the absence of wood bores. This would likely lead to the discovery of ships that are virtually intact. He says the bottom of the Black Sea has never been explored before. For those of you who don't know this, it was Ballard's team which gave the name "tubeworms" to those wierd worm-like creatures that live inside hollow tubes at the bottom of the ocean. He talked about the fact that the only things the underwater creatures don't seem to know how to eat are shoes and boots. He then showed a picture of the famous shoes found at the TITANIC site and went on to say that when he found the Bismarck he also found hundreds of German boots all around the wreck site. Then he mentioned that when he was down at the LUSITANIA site he found a pair of women's shoes next to a pair of baby shoes. After this he discussed his opposition to removing objects from the TITANIC site. During this part of his speech he stated that one of the prime reasons people give for removing objects from the site is to preserve a part of history that is rapidly disintegrating. But Ballard said that the technology already exists to go down and save the TITANIC from disintegrating. He stated that even now we have what it takes to go down and clean the TITANIC's hull, removing the rusticles and other debris, and then to completely repaint the hull. I was rather stunned to hear this and am presently incensed at the notion that if this is true why then has this kind of project not been started. I am wondering if anyone has any information about this? If so please respond. Thanks.

P.S. I also got his autograpgh and a picture of the two of us. It is the most important photo I now have as Ballard is no less than my hero.

-- Ed (, October 16, 1998


Congratulations, Ed! I had an almost similar story when Cameron came to Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), the day after my graduation when I finally said good-bye to any form of grad school. Unlike you, I did not get to talk to the guy or even have a photo. But I was very close to him and I watched his speech. Of course, Ballard had found the Titanic, while Cameron has revived everybody's interest in Titanic's told, untold or fictional stories. But it would be fascinating if the wreck, say at least the bow, could be saved somehow. But the destruction of the hull seems to be very advanced and I don't know how such process of removing the rusticles could be performed down there. And at what cost... In some cases, the metal could just collapse if touched. About the Black Sea project I would be more than excited, as I was born in Romania and did swim many summers in that sea. I'm sure there are many Roman and Greek ships sunk along the coast, maybe also Turkish and modern vessels. Go, Ballard, go!

-- Dan Draghici (, October 16, 1998.

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