Tag Archives: Robert Ballard

Titanic Cross Sells at Auction;Ballard Ends Search for Amelia Earhart

BBC News is reporting that the wood cross made from Titanic wood was sold for £10,000 ($12,969). The cross was made by Samuel Smith, one of the crew of the SS Minia that went out to retrieve bodies from Titanic.  It was expected to fetch £12,000. The name of the purchaser was not released.

Source: Titanic Wreckage Cross Sells For £10k At Auction (BBC, 19 Oct 2019)

US stamp honoring Amelia Earhart (1963)
Public Domain

LiveScience is reporting the famed explorer Robert Ballard has ended his search for Amelia Earhart’s plane in the coral reefs of Nikumaroro.

The team mapped the island with sonar and a floating surface vehicle — and they employed remotely operated vehicles to explore the deeper crevices of the underwater mountain that Nikumaroro is a part of. The team even searched 4 nautical miles out and came up with nothing remotely linked to Earhart. They did, however, find a bunch of rocks that were the same size and shape as the supposed landing gear from the photo, according to the Times.

One expert consulted for the article was not surprised given the plane’s composition and that so much time has passed.  There have been many theories about what happened to Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot Fred Noonan. Most have concluded the plane must have crashed in that area but evidence has been scant but it is the most promising. Bones found in a Tarawa museum are being checked and a temporary campsite found on Nikumaroro is being tested for DNA.

National Geographic funded the expedition and will release a documentary on it.

Source: The Man Who Found the Titanic Just Ended His Search for Amelia Earhart’s Lost Plane (Livescience.com, 17 Oct 2019)

Who was amelia earhart and why is ballard looking for her?

Famed explorer Robert Ballard is now looking for evidence that will determine what finally happened to Amelia Earhart who disappeared in July 1937. She was a famed aviator of her day one of the rare female aviators in a male dominated area. She achieved a lot putting her on par with another famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.

It has been an enduring mystery to find out what happened to her. Many claims over the years have been made–some fanciful and others grounded in logic–but nothing has yet been found to prove what happened to her. Ballard sees this as another challenge to perhaps correct history much like what he did with Titanic. Below is a re-posting of a write up I did on Amelia Earhart. Hopefully he does find something definitive so we can at last know what happened back in 1937.

A few days ago the 80th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance went by without much notice in the press. There was some obligatory mentions in This Day In History write-ups and a mention of a possible finding of her plane. So who was Amelia Earhart and why was she important?

Amelia Earhart circa 1928
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress digital ID# cph.3a22092)

On 20 May 1932, five years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo nonstop flight from the U.S. to France, Amelia Earhart set out to be the first female aviator to accomplish the same feat. Unlike Lindbergh, Earhart was already well known before this flight. She gained fame in 1928 as part of a three person crew to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane. On that trip, she kept the plane’s log. Early on 20 May 1932, her Lockheed Vega 5B took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. She intended to replicate Lindbergh’s flight but encountered strong northerly winds, mechanical problems, and icy conditions. Instead of landing in France, she landed in a pasture at Culmore(north of Derry)in Northern Ireland. When asked by a farmhand how far she had flown, she famously said “From America.”

Her feat received international acclaim. She received the Distinguished Flying Cross in the U.S., Cross of Honor of the Legion of Honor from France, and the Gold Medal from the National Geographic Society. Her fame allowed her develop friendships with many important and influential people such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Earhart would continue to make solo flights and set records. Sadly her next most famous mission would forever be shrouded in mystery. In 1937 she attempted–along with copilot Frederick Noonan–to fly around the world. On 2 Jul 1937, her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the South Pacific. Despite extensive searching by the U.S.Navy and Coast Guard, no trace of the plane or its pilots were ever found. The search was called off on 19 July.

Earhart was declared legally dead on 5 Jul 1939 so that her estate could pay bills. Since then numerous theories as to what happened have been put forth. Many believe her plane either crashed and sank or that they landed on an island and perished awaiting rescue. Some intriguing evidence recovered in 2012 off Nikumaroro might be from their plane which supports the crash and sank hypothesis. More speculative theories have her being a spy for FDR or being captured and executed (along with Noonan)by the Japanese on Saipan (the area checked for the pilots bodies revealed nothing). A 1970 book claiming she had survived, moved to New Jersey, and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam. There really was an Irene Bolam who had been a banker in New York in the 1940’s. She sued the publisher and obtained an out-of-court settlement. The book was taken off the market. National Geographic debunked it in 2006 on Undiscovered History.

Catching up on Titanic news

Time to catch up on some Titanic news! Here are some news articles you might be in interested. If you see a news article you think should be noticed here, drop us a line at editor@titanicnewschannel.com

Former Harland & Wolff building in Bootle, Dock Road (18 Feb 2007)
Image: Nigel Cox / Bootle: Harland & Wolff Works building, Dock Road / CC BY-SA 2.0The Little-Known Titanic Secrets About This Hidden Merseyside Building (Echo, 29 Dec 2018)

The Little-Known Titanic Secrets About This Hidden Merseyside Building (Echo, 29 Dec 2018)

The only sign of its illustrious past is the giant Harland & Wolff sign on the outside of the building. But unknown to many, this Bootle site – passed by hundreds of HGV drivers a week on their way to the Port of Liverpool complex – could have links to the ill-fated luxury ocean liner, RMS Titanic. The White Star Line-owned ship, built at Harland & Wolff’s main Belfast production yard and registered in Liverpool, tragically sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg on April 15, 1912. Although there is little detailed information about Harland & Wolff’s Liverpool site, it is hought by some that engine parts for the Titanic could have been made there when it was used as a foundry at the turn of the last century.
https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/little-known-titanic-secrets-hidden-15542852

The Titanic: 13 Things The Movie Got Wrong (12 They Got Right)(The Travel, 25 Dec 2018)
Fortunately for Cameron and his team, the movie went on to be the highest grossing film of all time at the time of its release, breaking just about every single box office record in existence up until that point. It connected with audiences on a scale that few films do, becoming a cinematic sensation through its action-packed ship journey and an epic love story between the two main characters, Jack and Rose, played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Here are thirteen things the movie Titanic got wrong and twelve it actually got right.
https://www.thetravel.com/things-the-titanic-movie-got-right-wrong-right/

Harland & Wolff: Shipbuilder An Enduring Chapter Of Belfast Story For More Than 150 Years (Belfast Telegraph, 21 Dec 2018)
The Harland & Wolff shipyard was founded in Belfast in 1862 by Edward James Harland and Gustav Wilhelm Wolff. At its peak in the early 20th century – its workforce hit around 35,000 in the 1930s Harland & Wolff and its Belfast yard was one of the biggest shipbuilders in the world and a beacon of manufacturing prowess. Now the famous Drawing Offices where the plans for the liner were refined is the home of the Titanic Hotel within the Titanic Quarter.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/northern-ireland/harland-wolff-shipbuilder-an-enduring-chapter-of-belfast-story-for-more-than-150-years-37646075.html

My Titanic job…ship with 40,000 Lego bricks (Daily Express, 21 Dec 2018)
Master builder Keith Morton is feeling shipshape after spending almost two years constructing a replica of the Titanic using 40,000 Lego bricks. The 65-year-old has painstakingly placed every brick into the 10ft model of the passenger liner.
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1062392/titanic-lego-model-Keith-Morton

The Discovery Of The Titanic Wreck Was a Front For a Secret U.S. Military Mission (Govexe.com, 18 Dec 2018)
While it is true that a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found the Titanic, what was not reported at the time were the conditions put in place by the U.S. Navy—or their involvement with the mission at all. Ballard was not exclusively a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist, but also a U.S. Navy Commander. The navy would fund the mission, CNN reported, but only if Ballard first explored the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion, two American nuclear subs that had sunk about 20 years prior.
https://www.govexec.com/management/2018/12/discovery-titanic-wreck-was-front-secret-us-military-mission/153629/

You Can Visit The Wreck Of Titanic At The Bottom Of The Atlantic Ocean In 2019 (Lonely Planet, 18 Dec 2018)
Plans are in motion to bring people to visit the wreck of RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 2019 as part of six 11-day missions to explore the wreck. Taking part in the Titanic Survey Expedition, which is open to scientists and ‘citizen explorers,’ will cost US$105,129 (£83,537), which is the equivalent of what a first class ticket on Titanic’s maiden voyage would cost now.
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/news/2018/12/18/visit-wreck-titanic/

The Replica Ship Titanic II Will Now Set Sail In 2022 (Business Insider, 12 Dec 18) There are many stories out there about the upcoming Titanic II (dubbed by me as Palmer 2.0). We went down this road before. We had lots of press releases, gala events, stories of various suppliers etc. And then it hit the wall. Palmer could not get funding, the shipyard was quiet. Once again they are cranking up the press releases and the media are eating it up. Remember when suddenly out of the blue news articles were pushing Titanic II a couple of years ago by simply regurgitating old news? Well it has that feel again. Any way, here is the article about what Palmer 2.0 will look like etc.
https://www.businessinsider.com/titanic-ll-compare-to-the-original-2018-11

To close out this Saturday, here are two Christmas comedy music for your enjoyment. Happy Saturday.

Premier Exhibitions Update:U.K.’s National Maritime Museum Bids For Titanic Artifacts

Image: Public Domain (NOAA)

The National Geographic reports that last Friday (29 June 2018) the U.K.’s National Museum and National Museums of Northern Ireland have filed papers with the bankruptcy court pledging to raise $19.2 million to buy Premier Exhibitions and the Titanic Exhibition. Both museums would co-own the artifacts and display them in Belfast. The non-Titanic part of Premier would be acquired by another exhibition firm called Running Subway. It is also reported that the CEO of Running Subway is on the Creditors Committee and that Premier’s creditors support the bid. A rival bid by existing shareholders is offering $17.5 million at the moment. Another proposal from the equity holders calls for splitting up the artifacts and selling them at auction.

The National Maritime Museum is pledging to conserve the artifacts and has the facilities to do it. They are worried that history would end up in private hands and possibly disappear. Famed explorer and one of the two men that can claim to have found RMS Titanic (the other was Jean-Louis Michel of Ifremer also aboard Knorr at the time), Bob Ballard, is a supporter. Certainly this adds a new complexity to the upcoming hearing on July 25 where the proposals will be considered by the court. If they can raise the money, they might be able to pull it off. Then again there are a lot of competing interests and lots of jockeying going on behind the scenes. Also the lawsuit against former officers could have an impact as well though hard to say at this point.

Another fascinating wrinkle in this story. Stay tuned, this is going to be interesting.

Source: Titanic Artifacts Caught in International Tug-of-War (National Geographic, 2 Jul 2018)


Titanic News: Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Update, More Details On How Titanic Was Found

Premier Exhibitions Update-On May 25, 2018 the Bankruptcy Court granted the Equity Committee legal standing to pursue claims against current and former officers and directors of Premier Exhibitions. In short it means they have the ability to demand they pay damages to help reduce the outstanding debts of the company. Since they have retained counsel, it means they expect it will result in litigation to determine whether they are liable and if so, how much they will have to pay.
View original document here.
View materials on the case here.

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

New Details on Secret Navy Mission Where Titanic Was Found-Some years ago it was revealed Titanic was discovered as part of a secret Navy mission that Ballard was on. He was sent on a mission to try to find out how two U.S. nuclear submarines had sunk. Using new submersible technology Ballard found those wrecks and the approximate location of Titanic. The National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. reveals more of the details of that secret mission. “Titanic: The Untold Story” delves into the many details that have not been publicly revealed until now.

In 1985, Ballard’s mission was to dive to depths of 9,800 feet using a towed camera system called Argo to find and document the imploded remains of the Scorpion. The objective of the mission was to locate the submarine’s nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons and to gain evidence to help determine what led to her loss. After concluding his successful investigations of the Scorpion, Ballard used the final 12 days of his expedition to discover the RMS Titanic at a depth of 12,540 feet. The following year, while the public was enthralled and distracted by the discovery of the Titanic, Ballard returned on a second classified mission to the Thresher and Scorpion.

Visitors will view artifacts, materials and photographs from the U.S. Navy Archives, and see the submersible Alvin that dived to Titanic. They will also see a variety of Titanic related artifacts from the National Archives and movie memorabilia from 20th Century Fox.

Information about museum hours of operation and tickets can be found at https://www.nationalgeographic.org/dc/.


Sunday Titanic News

1.Underwater Explorer Has A Deep Respect For Leadership(Lethbridge Herald, 4 Mar 18)
Ballard is one of the featured guests at this year’s Greatness in Leadership conference taking place in March.He is best known for finding the RMS Titanic in 1985, while on a secret navy mission to investigate two sunken nuclear submarines. “I was a naval officer doing something else, and needed a cover,” he said from his headquarters in Connecticut “I must say, the Pentagon was pissed when I made the discovery. I apologized and said I’d never do it again.” In May, Ballard will hit the open sea to work with Ocean Networks Canada. He and his crew are assisting with efforts to provide improvements to a tsunami early warning system by investigating the Juan de Fuca plate, a tectonic plate subducting under the West Coast.

2.WSU Engineering Students Helping Remap The Titanic (King5.com,1 Mar 2018)
Since Titanic was discovered in 1985, there have been dozens of voyages to the wreckage from government agencies and scientists. But the last time a tourist laid eyes on it was 2005, and the last scientific expedition was in 2010. Technology has also changed a lot in eight years. This time, their five-person sub named Titan will be armed with 4K cameras and a special laser to bring back the best images ever seen. “We can tell within millimeters what the hull is like and create a 3D image of it which we will use in our virtual reality presentation of the wreck,” said Rush.

Public Domain( John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia)

3.US Museum Labelling Titanic A Failure Blasted By Belfast Councillor(Belfast Telegraph, 27 Feb 18)
The Museum of Failure in Los Angeles is dedicated to displaying 100 items which are rated in terms of innovation and design before being subjected to the museum’s ‘Fail-O-Meter’. The Harland & Wolff-built luxury liner was deemed unsinkable by its designers but tragically sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912 with the loss of more than 1,500 lives. However, Councillor Sonia Copeland, who represents the Titanic District Electoral Area in east Belfast, said the inclusion of the ill-fated cruise liner in the exhibition is completely inappropriate. “I think it’s disgusting. The Titanic hit an iceberg. That wasn’t a failure of the shipbuilders – it was a failure of nature, so to speak,” she said.

4.Medals Of War Hero Who May Have Unwittingly Helped Sink Titanic Go Up For Auction(Belfast Telegraph, 27 Feb 2018)
A special set of medals owned by a Titanic crew member whose memory loss may have sparked the liner’s tragic demise is set to go under the hammer. Crew member David Blair was a selfless man who once plunged into the sea to save a life and received an OBE – but he may have unwittingly caused the catastrophic sinking of the famous ship in 1912. That’s because Second Officer Blair was taken off the Titanic at the last minute – and accidentally held on to the key to a locker containing the crow’s nest binoculars. Titanic survivor Fred Fleet told the official inquiry into the tragedy that if they had the binoculars they would have seen the iceberg that took the ship to its watery grave sooner.


Recent Titanic News: Ballard Talks and Scientist Reveals Major Movie Plot Hole

Image: Public Domain (NOAA)

1. Robert Ballard, part of the team that discovered Titanic, recently gave a lecture at Jacksonville University. Addressing 150 marine biology students he noted that he was inspired by the fictional Captain Nemo. While Titanic made him famous, he noted:

“I have done 150 expeditions and when I look back on what were the most important ones, it was not finding the Titanic,” Ballard said. “It was finding amazing systems in our ocean that we did not know were there; going to look for ‘A’ and finding something more important.”

That is certainly someone dedicated to building scientific knowledge.
Source:Finding Titanic made Ballard famous but reach goes deeper (Florida Times-Union,10 Oct 2017)

The Sad Parting
From Story of the Wreck of the Titanic;Marshall Everett);1912
Artist Unknown
Public Domain

2. When noted scientists get involved in silly controversies over fictional movies, I usually shake my head. On the other hand Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out a major plot hole over Jack Dawson’s demise.

“Whether or not he could’ve been successful, I would’ve tried more than once. You try once. ‘Oh, this is not gonna work. I will just freeze to death in the water.’ No, excuse me. No!

Okay Dr. Tyson.
Source:Scientist points out huge Titanic film plot hole that fans missed completely (Mirror.co.uk,10 Oct 2017)


Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Update

This and other Titanic artifacts could be yours! Appraised value is $240 million. All genuine offers considered. Contact Brent Williams at Lincoln International, bwilliams@lincolninternational.com , telephone (212) 257-7750 or Premier’s financial advisors, Marshall Glade, GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group LLC, mglade@glassratner.com , telephone (404) 835-8844.

The story thus far: Premier Exhibitions, which owns RMS Titanic Inc, has filed for bankruptcy. A decision has been reached to sell the Titanic collection (the artifacts and intellectual property). One problem is the Titanic salvage award limits how those artifacts can be sold: as one collection. Past attempts to sell have failed because the price is too high. And now our story resumes….

Could a famous Hollywood director put together the money needed to buy the collection? The U.K. Daily Mail reports that James Cameron has begun a “secret” rescue mission to bring the Titanic artifacts to the U.K. He has apparently teamed up with Robert Ballard, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Royal Geographical Society to accomplish this. The figure being reported is £165 million.

Details of this “secret” mission were revealed at a court hearing last week by Ballard. Of course nothing is final and it is the very early stages. I doubt they will be the only party that will be interested. The Chinese would like to add it to their theme park and have money to spend as well. And there are investors in Dubai who also would not mind having the Titanic collection there as well that will draw in tourists. ave Vermillion, spokesman for RMS Titanic Inc, confirmed they have interest from all over the world.

Hopefully this time they will actually sell it to someone who will properly conserve it. The bidding war, if that is what it becomes, ought to be fascinating.

Source: Save the treasures of the Titanic! Director James Cameron launches top-secret £165m bid to rescue artefacts after shipwreck’s ‘owners’ are declared bankrupt (Daily Mail,1 Jul 2017)


Vessel That Helped Find Titanic Says Goodbye And Heads To Mexico

R/V Knorr at the WHOI dock in Woods Hole, MA 2012 Public Domain (Wikipedia)
R/V Knorr at the WHOI dock in Woods Hole, MA 2012
Public Domain (Wikipedia)

RV Knorr, made famous by being the Woods Hole vessel that had the researchers that found Titanic aboard, is heading to Mexico. The ship was a mainstay of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution since it was delivered to them in 1970. And logged close to a million miles in its long history with Woods Hole. The ship was officially decommissioned in 2014 and its replacement, the RV Neil Armstrong, will take its place. The ship will now serve in the Mexican Navy though it is unclear what her duties will be.

Source: Ship Used to Find Titanic Headed to Mexican Navy (ABC News from AP,13 Mar 2016)

Titanic News: Anniversary of finding, Titanic II tickets, and Titanic Whistles

1. Titanic II Ticket Demand Expected To Increase
Cruise Ship News speculates that now the project is back on, that demand for tickets will begin again. “One thing we do know though, and that is the fact there will now be renewed demand for Titanic 2 ticket prices. Details of Titanic II tickets had already been shared, but not their prices. We do know that there will be first, second and third class like the original liner, and some people have been offering up to £640,000($987,216USD) so they can be the first to experience life aboard the Titanic 2.” They might want to wait until construction actually begins before offering substantial sums of money. There is still a lot of doubt this will get built.
Source: Titanic 2 Ticket Demand Renewed Following Latest Launch News(14 Sep 2015,Cruise Ship News)

2. Titanic Whistles Heard For The First Time Since 1912 At Luxor Titanic Exhibition
Back in 1912 recording media was very primitive so we have no idea what Titanic’s whistles sounded like. Now we have a pretty good idea. A set of Titanic’s whistles were recovered in 1993,cleaned and then X-rayed. The whistles are believed to been on the first funnel and could be used one last time. In 1999 using high-pressured air, the whistle tones were recorded. The whistle sound, two separate blasts of about eight seconds each, are heard by visitors to the Titanic exhibition at Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. A replica set of the whistles is on display as well (the original is at the Huntington Park, California exhibition).
Source:Whistles Give Voice To Tragedy At Luxor Titanic Exhibition(13 Sep 2015,Las Vegas Review Journal)

3. 30 Years!
On September 1, 1985, a joint expedition of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and French National Institute of Oceanography (IFREMER) located Titanic just a little after 1am. Lying over 12,400 feet down, it was a major success for Robert Ballard (WHOI) and Jean Louis Michel of IFREMER to finally locate the wreck. Using a new approach of using a deep towed sonar and video camera system, they were looking for debris rather than just one large object. They found the debris field and followed it to the wreck. It was a major achievement for both and brought worldwide attention. It answered some questions and raised more. Titanic did not sink in one piece but in two. Further explorations would learn there was no large gash but perhaps punctures caused by the iceberg grazing against it. The subsequent salvage would touch off a firestorm between Titanic historians and enthusiasts, a debate that still lingers to this day.
Source: 1985 Discovery of RMS Titanic(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)