Tag Archives: Robert Ballard

Saturday News & Musings

1. Robert Ballard has begun his 2014 Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico Exploration. He and his crew will research marine ecosystems and tectonic activity over the next four months. People can view the progress and other details at www.nautiluslive.org.
Source: US Titanic Discoverer Embarks On New Mission(13 June 2014,New Vision)

2. The Titanic Honour and Glory exhibition has opened at Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery in Scotland. According to Evening Times:
Visitors to the free exhibition will get to see an assortment of items from the liner’s passengers and crew, including some of the beautiful china dinner plates used to serve meals aboard the stricken ship. Also on show will be the nameplate from one of Titanic’s lifeboats which collectively saved 706 of the 2,223 passengers.There are also rare examples of tributes made in the aftermath of the sinking, including Titanic relief fund cheques which were given to help support the families of those who were lost.

Admission is free. For information about the museum, click here.
Source:Titanic Exhibition Opens(13 June 2014, Evening Times)

3. The tragedy of the sunken South Korean ferry is an opportunity to revisit better ways to save lives at sea. Clive Schofield notes that with more cruise ships going into areas not traveled before for adventure cruising(and given the fact many who are on cruise ships are older people), the need for better approach is at hand. He suggests liferafts over lifeboats since the former deploys much faster (in minutes when time is crucial). Also passengers need to be marshaled on deck quickly rather than remain below and possibly die (and divers possibly dying getting to them).
Source:Another Titanic Change Is Needed To Save More Lives At Sea(10 June 2014,The Conversation)

*Summer is nearly here and most schools are finished for the year. When I was a kid, my mother had to devise ways to keep us from hanging around the house. That meant day camps, athletics, and swimming aside from whatever chores we had to do. I have no doubt she would have confiscated smart phones, computer games, and locked out the computer had we had them back them. Oh and the television would be embargoed as well.

*Being kind of a fan of railroads, I like occasionally to play computer simulation games. I tried a demo for one called Rails (Belight Software). It is based on a game called Short Rails from a long time ago. Essentially you run a short line railroad and have to handle the assorted issues of routing trains etc. But the new version is not so good. Track layout is restricted, stations appear randomly, and the assorted challenges make it more frustrating than enjoyable. I ended up trashing the program wishing I had not spent the money. A lesson learned is to pay attention to demos more carefully otherwise you end with something you could have avoided.

*Hell’s Kitchen is, I think, a joke on the entire food competition shows. You have serious ones out there but this one strikes me as more of a trip for Gordon Ramsay then anything else. I mean who wants to spend weeks under his exacting drill sergeant routine to get a job that, if accurate, never quite materializes? You get the title of winning Hell’s Kitchen that season but the promised job does not quite come out that way. Some lesser positions than promised, take cash payouts because they cannot assume the job, or once their contract is up leave. I am certain that in the contract they sign it says you may get the position but it is up to the needs and decision of Gordon Ramsay. And Ramsay admits some of the participants on the show are there to be filler, just there to cause tension and issues to see if the real chefs can be found. And to be honest, I would rather eat the food of most Masterchef contestants and winners than some of those who claim to be cooks on Hells Kitchen.

A U.S. Army Air Forces North American B-25B Mitchell bomber takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) during the "Doolittle Raid". Image:Public Domain(National Archives and Records Administration,ARC Identifier 520603)
A U.S. Army Air Forces North American B-25B Mitchell bomber takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) during the “Doolittle Raid”.
Image:Public Domain(National Archives and Records Administration,ARC Identifier 520603)

*In April 1942 there was a daring raid on Japan called the Doolittle Raid. B-25’s took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet and bombed industrial sites in Japan. Because they had to take off earlier than expected due to a Japanese craft sighted nearby, they barely had enough fuel to land in China. Some were captured by the Japanese and killed, and some others were imprisoned until freed by American soldiers. A few ended up in Russia (neutral territory since they were not at war with Japan at the time) and interned. They were relocated near to the Iranian border where they were helped to escape over the border into British hands and ultimately back to the U.S. Others who crashed in China were helped by locals and partisans fighting against the Japanese and ultimately would be returned home. Lt. Colonel Doolittle, who had thought the raid was a failure and expected to be court martialed upon return, learned it had boosted morale and widely acclaimed back home. One of its participants, a young Army Air Corps pilot named Ted Lawson, returned home with an amputated leg. He would stay with the Army Air Corps and be promoted to Captain and later Major before retiring in 1945. Lawson wrote a book called Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo which the famous 1944 movie is based on. None of the men involved thought they were heroes but striking a blow to the Japanese for what they did to Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. Wars are not often determined by the largest battles but sometimes the best shots that down the road lead to a more secure victory than thought possible.

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Titanic Musings

Millvina Dean, British Titanic Society Titanic Convention, Hilton Hotel, Southampton, U.K. 1999 Photo:Stephen Daniels
Millvina Dean, British Titanic Society Titanic Convention, Hilton Hotel, Southampton, U.K. 1999
Photo:Stephen Daniels

1. How do you commemorate the passing of the last Titanic survivor? Skydiving, of course, according to Express & Echo. They report that two sisters, relatives of Milvina Dean, have pledged to do a charity skydive on the fifth anniversary of her death. Christina and Laura Squire (20 and 17 years old respectively) along with two friends plan to take the 15,000 feet plunge for cancer research. According to the news report, they were inspired to do the jump because family members and friends have battled the disease. As for their great aunt, Christina Squire says “We knew her as our Great Aunty. She lived such an amazing life and had so many stories to tell. We always had a chair next to the phone for when she called!” The skydive will take place on 31 May 2014.
Source:Last Titanic Survivor’s Devon Relatives To Do Charity Skydive To Mark 5th Anniversary Of Her Death(15 May 2014,Express & Echo)

2. Robert Ballard’s recent explorations of the Caribbean will be in an upcoming National Geographic Wild special Caribbean’s Deadly Underworld with Bob Ballard on 18 May. According to Mother Nature Network, Ballard says the Caribbean plate is active on four of its boundaries with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions capable of creating tsunamis. “ It is not a question of if these violent behaviors of the earth are going to occur but when and where,” says Ballard, noting that “the potential impact can vary as it has in the past in Haiti, for example, resulting in a tremendous loss of life and property.”
Source:Titanic Explorer Investigates The ‘Caribbean’s Deadly Underworld’
(16 Fri 2014,Mother Nature Network)

Godzilla Statue, Tokyo Photo:Wikiodaiba(Wikipedia)
Godzilla Statue, Tokyo

3. Godzilla is back and bigger than before say many reviews. But Netflix has put up many of the original Godzilla movies on its streaming side. So I spent the morning watching the original 1956 movie but it is the American not the Japanese version. The big difference between the two is the addition of Raymond Burr (later to become famous as Perry Mason) and how the movie unfolds the story. The original version has a different plot point (anti nuclear testing) while the American version was more of the monster movie (although it is suggested nuclear tests were responsible for its resurrection) The reason was to make it more marketable for U.S. audiences that may not want to watch an all Japanese movie. Burr’s character provides the narration for the movie (and thus avoiding lots of subtitles translating the Japanese to English). I have not seen this movie in a long time. I think the last time was years ago when Bob Wilkens had the old Creature Features show on a local station (that show long since gone).

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up. Sure today we can do the special effects much better than back then. And it was a guy in a zipped up suit walking around. But the story was good and the destruction that Godzilla causes (pretty much leveling Tokyo) is done in a spectacular matter. And they make it clear Godzilla was no childs plaything but caused death and destruction in its path. And not just that it could level buildings with its atomic breath. I had forgotten the fact the creature is radioactive so anything it comes into contact gets contaminated like groundwater and people. The American version may not be as anti-nuke as the original but it makes clear Godzilla did not get its radioactivity from nature. And it of course opened the possibility other creatures might be out there as well (like another Godzilla perhaps?). So if you want to see the movie that started it all, either watch it at Netflix or you can purchase the dvd from Amazon that has both the U.S. and Japanese version on it. [Editor’s note: The original Godzilla (Gojira) movie was 1954 but the second American version (Godzilla! King of the Monsters)with Raymond Burr was 1956. According to Wikipedia, the 1956 movie “combined the original Japanese footage of Godzilla with new American-made footage of Raymond Burr as an American reporter covering the monster’s activities who would explain the action for an English-speaking audience with minimal dubbing.”]

4. I happen to watch court television. It usually is entertaining and sometimes informative. Small claims courts handle those cases too small for a regular court (usually for cases under $10,000 though states often cap lower around $5,000) and usually cases that deal with issues like car sales, loss of property, loans, tenant issues, evictions, and traffic accidents to name a few. It is a interesting assortment of cases that flow into these lesser courts and a long time ago the creators of The People’s Court picked up on it and turned into interesting television. Today you have a wide variety to choose from and different judges. Each one is different because of the format and how the judges review the cases. In these cases there are no juries and no lawyers either (unless one of the people involved is a lawyer). Unlike a real small claims court case there is almost no appeal because legally it is a binding arbitration since both parties give up that right to have it settled in this forum.

I tend to gravitate between The People’s Court, Judge Alex, and Judge Judy. All three have their own styles. Judge Judy is the most severe of all three. She wastes no time, cuts to the chase, and will not hesitate to tell your testimony is balderdash. Judge Alex tends to be a just a bit more relaxed (each case on his show is about 24 minutes and is the whole show), while People’s Court manages three or four in a hour and Judge Judy usually two (s0metimes three if one is dismissed right away). You get some cases at times that are  head scratchers. Like the one just recently on People’s Court.

A fellow buys a dump truck planning to use it for a new hauling business. But rather than right away heading off to DMV to register, he waits a year. He has all kinds of reasons for Judge Milian, who is grilling him why it took so long to do this and learn the title was defective. You see when you buy something, especially a car, one absolute requirement is the seller has clear title. Does not matter whether the car is new or used, sold by dealer or by private party. The title has to be clear. In this case the seller’s name did not match the name on the title. The seller says he bought it from a guy who is now deceased. Now had this been learned right away, normally a judge would cancel the sale, return the money, and the seller gets the car back. But this was peculiar because the plaintiff sat on it for a year and knew the title had a different name from that of the seller.

So on one hand you had a seller who knowingly sold a car with a defective title and a buyer who had to have seen it but failed to do anything about it for a year. And during that year that dump truck sat around somewhere. So now the guy wants to sell it but cannot since the title is defective. Leaving the judge with a thorny problem. A seller who wanted to pass on a problem and an idiot who sat on the problem for a year. So she decides to hold her judgment back and asks the seller to fix the problem and awards no money to the plaintiff. And she was going to bang her gavel on it but before she did explained to the plaintiff why he got nothing. She goes through the reasons including her disbelief that the truck was unused during that time. Then the guy decides to pop off by talking back to her about some local rules or something. She slams down the title on her desk, rules for the defendant, and tells the plaintiff to solve the problem on his own. So he walks out as he came in, with a vehicle he cannot register nor sell unless the seller can fix it (which he says will try to do probably to avoid the state coming after him for fraud). I suspect though there will be a dump truck found somewhere with long expired registration, tagged and towed, and eventually sold for scrap by the tow company.

Judge Judy would have laughed at his story and told him “You’re a fool!” and then dismissed his case.

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National Geographic Friday:Ballard’s Secret Mission

It has been a source of speculation that Titanic was located during the Cold War by the British Royal Navy or the United States Navy. Much of it has never been proven however Robert Ballard did locate Titanic as part of a plan to locate two sunken nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy. And here is that story. Ballard’s Secret Mission by National Geographic.


Sunday Titanic News: Ballard is Honored, Titanic Tech To Help Missing Plane Search, And Titanic Wireless Operator Postcard Goes Up For Auction


1. Robert Ballard has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences according to University of Rhode Island(URI). Ballard is a oceanography professor at URI and founder of Ocean Exploration Trust. He is among 204 chosen in 2014 for American Academy. Induction ceremony will take place in October at the Cambridge, Mass., headquarters.
Source: Famed Ocean Explorer Ballard, Who Discovered Titanic Wreck, Elected Member Of American Academy(23 April 2014,Star Tribune)

Operators aboard ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy’s Bluefin-21 into position for deployment, April 14, 2014, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Photo:Public Domain (U.S. Navy ID 140414-N-OV358-036)
Operators aboard ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy’s Bluefin-21 into position for deployment, April 14, 2014, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Photo:Public Domain (U.S. Navy ID 140414-N-OV358-036)

2. Sky News reports that a sonar tracking system similar to what was used to locate Titanic may be used in the hunt for the missing Malaysian flight MH370. Bluefin 21, an autonomous underwater vehicle, has done 80% of the work so far but has a limitation of 4500 meters. So they plan to deploy a side-scan sonar device that will go deeper. The U.S. Navy Orion-towed search systems is available and offers real-time date unlike Bluefin 21. Also the REMUS 6000 autonomous underwater vehicle is being considered for use as well.
Source: Titanic Boost In Search For MH370(23 April 2014, Sky News)

Jack George Phillips, Titanic Wireless Operator Photo: Public Domain
Jack George Phillips, Titanic Wireless Operator
Photo: Public Domain

3. A postcard sent by Titanic wireless operator Jack Phillips will be auctioned off in the United States disappointing historians who want it brought back to England. The postcard, bearing the image of Titanic, was sent on 6 April 1914 to his sister Elsie reads: “Thanks very much for your letter. Having glorious weather, went to Cowes yesterday. Will write later before we sail.” Alison Pattison of the Godalming Museum says:”The story of Jack Phillips is one which gains a lot of interest locally and of course if money was no object we would be absolutely delighted to have it here in Godalming. However, we simply don’t have the budget for things like this, so purchases have to be made using grants, or more usually we receive items donated from collectors.”
Source: Titanic Hero’s Postcard ‘Should Be Returned To Godalming(25 April 2014,Get Surrey)

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Titanic News: Ballard To Speak At Museum, Titanic Memorial Garden in Cobh, Southampton Cemetery Walk, and Malaysia Airliner Possibly Deeper Than Titanic

1. The Marine Museum in Fall River will have a fund raiser that will feature a Titanic themed buffet followed by a presentation by Robert Ballard, co-discoverer of Titanic. The event will take place on 2 May and costs $125 for members, $150 for non-members, and is limited to 200 people. Tickets can be purchased by calling 508-674-3533 or at the Marine Museum in Fall River, MA.
Source:Titanic Discoverer Ballard To Speak At Museum (7 April 2014,The Herald News)

2.Titanic Memorial Garden To Open In Cobh(7 April 2014,Irish Examiner)
A special memorial garden is to be opened in the Titanic’s last port of call to commemorate the 123 people who boarded tenders onto the ill-fated liner. At 3pm this Friday, the memorial garden will be officially opened in Cobh, Co Cork — 102 years to the day after the Titanic anchored in the harbour. “The focal point of the garden is a glass memorial wall overlooking the final anchorage of Titanic onto which the names of the 123 passengers that boarded her in what was then known as at Queenstown are inscribed,” Hendrick Verwey, chairman of Cobh Tourism, said.

3. Southampton Cemetery Walks Will Remember Loss Of Titanic(8 April 2014,Daily Echo)
A series of walks will be held in Southampton to remember the loss of the Titanic. Friends of the Southampton Old Cemetery will be holding the walks this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, starting from the main gates at the end of Cemetery Road. Walkers will be guided around graves with family inscriptions relating to the loss of the White Star Line vessel.

4. Malaysia Airliner: ‘Best Lead Yet’ As Possible Black Box Signal Is Picked Up Deeper Than The Titanic(7 April 2014, Mirror Online)
Salvage teams hunting for the plane’s black box devices have picked up signals from 14,764 feet below the surface of the southern Indian Ocean. So-called “pings” have been detected 1,650km off the coast of Perth, Australia, at a depth of 4,500m. When the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on 14th April 1912 it finally rested 12,500ft beneath the Atlantic ocean. The depth will pose difficulties for salvage teams using the latest state of the art technology to locate the black boxes. There is little wonder as to why the area in the southern Indian Ocean is called the “loneliest place on earth”. One of the devices being used to try and fix the point of location of the two black boxes, the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, is the Bluefin 21. The 21 foot long robotic underwater vehicle which has a depth limit of 14,763 ft (4,500M) meaning it will be pushed to the very limit of its capabilities.

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Bob Ballard Weighs In On Missing Passenger Jet


Update 5 April 2014-The Irish Times reported on 21 Mar 2014 Bob Ballard’s additional comments while he was in Belfast to speak. The newspaper reports:

Dr Ballard also worked for 30 years with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. It located the Air France Flight 447 plane which crashed in the Atlantic in 2009 with the loss of 228 passengers and crew. “When you have lost something the first question that is asked is where did you lose it? You can’t do anything until you can narrow the search and right now the search area is getting bigger not smaller,” he said.

The possible location appeared to be “changing oceans” from day to day, he added. What was vital was to localise the search area and to do that before the batteries on the craft’s black boxes ran out of power. “They have 30 days from when the plane went down. That’s when the clock started,” he said. Dr Ballard, who delivered a lecture at the Titanic centre yesterday evening, agreed that there were almost elements of the Mary Celeste mystery to the case.

Bob Ballard, who co-founded Titanic in 1985, was recently asked about finding debris from the missing jetliner. According to turnto10.com he opined:

“If you know anything about the circulation of the current this time of year in that area, it’s counterclockwise. And so it makes sense that the debris would be to the east and south of the impact site,” Ballard said.

The speculation now is that the plane did not crash but was hijacked.

Source: Titanic Discoverer Weighs In On Missing Jetliner(13 Mar 2014, turnto10.com)


Friday Titanic Newswrap

1. Hartley Violin Update
Wallace Hartley's ViolinWallace Hartley’s violin will make one last public display before its date with auctioneer Henry Aldridge & Son on 19 Oct. The violin will be going to his hometown (Dewsbury, UK) and on display for one day only on Monday, October 14 in the town hall. A vintage tea room with period music will be setup as well.
Source: Wallace Hartley’s Titanic Violin To Return Home To Dewsbury(1 Oct 2013, Dewsbury Reporter)

2. Rory Golden, who has been on two dives to Titanic, will be giving two talks at the former Harland & Wolff Drawing Office about his experiences diving to Titanic. The first one is scheduled for 17 Oct and the second on 18 Oct. The second talk will include Ralph White, the cameraman who captured the first images of the ship. Full details are available at Titanic Belfast.
Source: Up Close And Personal With Titanic, By The Irishman Who Has Dived The Wreck Twice(2 Oct 2013, Belfast Telegraph)


3. Robert Ballard has begun an expedition to investigate major faults and underwater volcanoes in the northern and eastern Caribbean reports The Associated Press. Ballard is overseeing 31 scientists who hope the information they collect will help when natural disasters strike. Remote controlled vehicles will be used to explore the faults and underwater formations.
Source:Titanic Discoverer To Explore Caribbean Faults, Volcanoes(3 Oct 2013, WTVQ)

Saturday Titanic Newswrap

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

1.Titanic II Update: Model testing for Titanic II will begin next month at Hamburg Ship Model Basin in Germany. According to Marinelink: “A 9.3m wooden model of Titanic II will be put through resistance and powering tests in a 300m long tank at HSVA’s Hamburg facilities in mid-September.”
Source:Titanic II Model Tank Testing To Be In Germany(23 Aug 2013,Marinelink.com)

2. Famed underwater explorer Robert Ballard is exploring the Cayman Trough, the deepest part of the Caribbean reports AP.  The trough is at least  25,000 feet deep and the scientists aboard Nautilus hope organisms collected will help understand how life evolves on other worlds According to the news report, they have “captured a dumbo octopus, named for its two ear-like fins; a sea cucumber with an unidentified appendage; and various invertebrates living around hydrothermal vents that can reach temperatures of more than 400 Celsius (752 Fahrenheit).” They are also studying underwater earthslides to determine frequency and magnitude that causes tsunamis.The Nautilus is scheduled to return to port in September to avoid hurricanes and then heads to Puerto Rico in October.
Source:Explorer Who Discovered Titanic Wreck Now Investigating Deepest Trough In Caribbean Sea(22 Aug 2013,AP)

3. Here is a sneak peek of Titanic’s Final Mystery to be shown on Smithsonian Channel.


Sunday Titanic News

Happy Sunday
Happy Sunday

1.Update on recovered Titanic plaque
A long lost memorial plaque to Titanic musicians that was found in a scrapyard in Naples, Florida has been rededicated at Titanic The Experience this past Thursday and is on display. Doug Turner, who bought the plaque for $138, discovered it had been commissioned in 1912 by Musical Mutual Protective Union and had been in the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. It then disappeared and all attempts to locate it were unsuccessful. Apparently it ended in at the scrapyard through a construction worker who sold it to them while heading down to Miami.

The plaque has a sculpting of a muse, lyre, a small iceberg, and the first four musical bars of Nearer My God To Thee. All eight musicians who perished are listed. It will be on display at Titanic Experience for six months.

Source: Titanic Experience Rededicates Musicians Plaque Honoring Those On Doomed Ship(15 Aug 2013,Orlando Sentinel)

2. Lucky 16-Year Old Joins Ballard On Week Long Expedition
C.B.Wren, a 16-year old sophomore at Augusta Preparatory Day School, was chosen by National Eagle Scout Association to represent the Boy Scouts aboard Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus. Wren joins other students and educators for the week long exploration of Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Source: Augusta Prep Student On Expedition With Titanic Discoverer(15 Aug 2013,Augusta Chronicle)

3. Okay you have heard the joke “the fish was this big….” but this one is likely for real according to the Huffington Post. Marco Liebenow was fishing off the coast of Norway where he caught a 515 pound halibut in July. 515 pounds is a lot of fish and you just cannot reel it in like a normal fish. It had to be dragged back to harbor alongside the schooner. The current world record is 459 pounds for a Pacific halibut caught in 1996 in Alaska. The International Game Fishing Association will have to officially determine it’s a record holder. So what do you do with a 515 halibut? That is a lot of fish and chips!
Source:515-Pound Halibut Caught By Marco Leibenow Near Norway May Be World Record(17 Aug 2013, Huffington Post)

Real Science:New Robot Advances Underwater Research

With all the talk of Titanic II lately, it is forgotten there are still important things being done to advance underwater exploration. Like at the University of Delaware where they are testing a small Remotely Operated Vehicle. According to The Review,the ROV “has a front camera, a frontward high definition camera, a rear camera and sonar capabilities and is controlled by a joystick, which moves it to the front, back and side to side, while other buttons control the angle of the machine and cameras. The robot requires additional work for the sonar software and incoming data collection, as he says other people are required for such operations.”

And yes there is a Titanic connection of sorts (aside from the obvious ROV use). This ROV will be used in July to locate shipwrecks off Cape Henlopen in Delaware and then head off to the Aegean near Turkey to work with Robert Ballard.

Source: New Robot Advances Underwater Research (4 Mar 2013,The Review)