Robert Ballard

Robert Duane Ballard (born June 30, 1942) is a retired United States Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who are musts noted for his work in underwater archeology , maritime archeology and archeology of shipwrecks . He is must Berninahaus for the Discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the Battleship Bismarck in 1989, and the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in 1998. He when sending the Wreck of John F. Kennedy ‘s PT-109 in 2002 and visited Biuku Gaza and Eroni Kumana , who saved zijn crew. He leads ocean exploration on E / V Nautilus . [1]

Early life

Ballard Grew up in Pacific Beach, San Diego, California to a mother or German heritage and a Father of British heritage. [2] He has Attributed his early interest in underwater exploration to reading the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , [3] living in the ocean in San Diego, and his Fascination with the Groundbreaking expeditions of the bathyscaphe Trieste .

Ballard Began working for Andreas Rechnitzer ‘s Ocean Systems Group at North American Aviation in 1962-when his Father, Chet, the chief engineer at North American Aviation’s Minuteman missile program, helped im get a part-time job. At North American, have worked on North American’s failed proposal to build the submersible Alvin for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution .

In 1965, Ballard graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara , earning undergraduate degrees in chemistry and geology. While a student in Santa Barbara, California , have joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, and ook COMPLETED the US Army ‘s ROTC program, giving Recruiters im an Army officer’s commission in Army Intelligence. His first graduate degree ( MS , 1966) in geophysics from the University of Hawaii ‘s Institute of Geophysics where he Trained porpoises and whales. Subsequently, he Returned to Andreas Rechnitzer ‘s Ocean Systems Group at North American Aviation .

Ballard was working towards a Ph.D. in marine geology at the University of Southern California in 1967-when he was called to active duty. Upon his request, he was Transferred from the Army naar de US Navy as an oceanographer . The Navy Assigned im as a liaison tussen de Office of Naval Research and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts .

After leaving active duty and ends ring withinto the Naval Reserve in 1970, Ballard continued working at Woods Hole persuading organizations and people, mostly scientists, to fund and use Alvin for undersea research. Four years later he RECEIVED a Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics at the University of Rhode Island .

Ballard’s first dive in a submersible in the Ben Franklin (PX-15) in 1969 off the coast of Florida prolongation a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution expedition. In summer 1970, he Began a field mapping project of the Gulf of Maine for his doctoral dissertation . It-used an air gun dat cents sound waves underwater to determine the underlying structure of the ocean floor and the submersible Alvin , welke was-used to find and Recover a sample from the bedrock .

During the summer of 1975, Ballard participated in a joint French-American expedition called Phere searching for Hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge , but the expedition did not find ANY active vents. A 1979 expedition was aided by deep-Towed still camera sleds therein ulcers loveable to take pictures of the ocean floor, making it Easier to find the vent locations.

When Alvin inspected one of the sites they ‘located in the euro, the scientists Observed black smoke billowing out of the vents, something not Observed at the Galapagos Rift. Ballard and geophysicist Jean Francheteau went down in Alvin the day after the black smokers ulcers first Observed. Way Down ulcers loveable to take an accurate temperature reading of the active vent (the previous dive’s thermometer had Melted), and Recorded 350 ° C (662 ° F). Way Down continued searching for more vents Along the East Pacific Rise tussen 1980 en 1982.

Military career

Ballard joined the United States Army in 1965 through the Army’s Reserve Officers Training program . He was Designated as an intelligence officer and initially RECEIVED a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve . When called to active duty in 1967, he Asked to fulfill his obligation in the United States Navy . His request was not approved, and have been Transferred to the Navy Reserve on the reserve active duty list. After completing his active duty obligation in 1970, he was Returned to reserve status, where he remained for much of his military career, being called up only for mandatory training and special assignments. He retired from the Navy as a commander in 1995 after reaching the Statutory service limit.

Marine archeology

Giving a presentation on the belang or Exploring the Oceans at TED 2008

While Ballard had bone interested in the sea since an early age, his work at Woods Hole and his scuba diving experiences off Massachusetts spurred his interest in shipwrecks and hun exploration. His work in the Navy was involved Assisting in the development of small, unmanned submersibles therein Could be tethered to and controlled from a surface ship, and ulcers outfitted with lighting, cameras, and manipulator arms. As early as 1973, he saw this as a way of searching for the Wreck of the Titanic . In 1977, he led his first expedition, welke was unsuccessful.

RMS Titanic

In summer 1985, Ballard was aboard the French research ship Le suroit In this housing was using the side scan sonar SAR to search for the Titanic ‘s Wreck. When the French ship was recalled, he Transferred forbidden a ship from Woods Hole , the R / V Knorr . Unbeknownst to some, this trip was Financed by the US Navy for secret reconnaissance of the wreckage of two Navy nuclear powered attack Submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher , welke SANK in the 1960s, and not for the Titanic . Back in 1982, he approached the Navy about his new deep sea underwater robot craft, the Argo , and his search for the Titanic . [4] The Navy was not interested in funding it. However, they ‘ulcers interested in finding out what happened to missing hun Submarines and ultimately concluded therein Argo was hun best chance to do so. [4] The Navy Agreed it mention anything about finance his Titanic search only if he first searched for and investigated the two sunken Submarines, [4] and found out the state-of-hun nuclear reactors after being submerged for industry leaders a long time, [4] and Whether hun Radioactivity was impacting the environment. [4] He was placed on temporary active duty in the Navy, in charge of finding and investigating the wrecks. After the two missions ulcers COMPLETED, time and funding permitting, he was free to use resources to hunt for the Titanic . [4]

After hun missions for the Navy, Knorr arrived on site on August 22, 1985, [5] and deployed Argo . When they ‘searched for the two Submarines, Ballard and his team when sending dat ze had imploded from the immense pressure at depth. [6] It littered duizendtallen or pieces of debris all over the ocean floor. [6] Following the large trail of debris led Them directly to beide [6] and made it significantly Easier for Them to locate Them dan if ze ulcers to search for the Hulls rechtstreeks. [6] He Already Knew therein the Titanic imploded from pressure as well, much the way the assembly two Submarines did, and concluded dat it too must have’ll be left a scattered debris trail. [6] Using therein lesson, they ‘had Argo sweep back and forth across the ocean floor looking for the Titanic’s debris trail. [5] Way Down took shifts monitoring the video feed from Argo as it searched the ocean floor two miles projects.

In the early morning hours of September 1, 1985, observers noted anomalies on the otherwise smooth ocean floor. At first, it was pockmarks, like small craters from impacts. Eventually, debris was sighted as the rest of the team was awakened. Finally, a boiler was sighted, and soon after dat, the hull was found.

Ballard’s team made a general search of the Titanic’s exterior, noting zijn condition. Most significantly, they ‘Confirmed dat it had split in two, and therein the stern was in far worse shape dan the bow. They did not have much time to explore, as Vodafone ulcers waiting to take Knorr on other scientific pursuits, but his fame was now Assured. He oorspronkelijk Planned to keep the exact location a secret to preventable anyone from claiming great prizes from it. He Considered the site a cemetery, and refused to desecrate it by Removing artifacts.

On July 12, 1986, Ballard and his team Returned on board Atlantis II [5] to make the first detailed study of the Wreck. This time, he brought` Alvin . It was accompanied by Jason Junior , a small remotely operated vehicle therein Could fit through small openings to see into tje ship’s interior. Hoewel de the first dive (taking over two hours) Encountered technical problems, subsequent ones ulcers far more successful, and produktie a detailed Photographic record of the Wreck’s condition.

Other wrecks


Ballard took under an even more daunting task-when he and his team searched for the German Battleship Bismarck The water in 1989 in welke it SANK is 4,000 feet Deeper dan dat where the Titanic SANK. He Attempted to determine Whether it was leg sunk by the British or was scuttled at zijn eigen crew. Three weeks after the expedition however, personal tragedy struck im-when his 21-year-old sun, Todd, who had aided im in the search, was killed in a car accident.


In 1993 Ballard investigated the Wreck of RMS Lusitania off the Irish coast. It had leg struck by a torpedo, Whose explosion was Followed by a second, much larger one. The Wreck had leg depth Charged by the Royal Navy verschillende years after the sinking, so it was s difficult for Ballard to a do a forensic analysis. He Determined the boilers ulcers intact, and speculated the second explosion nov port leg caused by coal dust. Others harbor questioned this hypothesis. He hasnt ruled out the Possibility of cold Seawater Contacting superheated water in the ship’s steam generation plant.

Battle of Guadalcanal

Ballard and his team harbor ook visited the sites of many wrecks or World War II in the Pacific . His book Lost Ships of Guadalcanal locates and photographs many of the vessels sunk in the infamous Ironbottom Sound , the strait tussen Guadalcanal Island and the Floridas in the Solomon Islands .

USS Yorktown

On 19 May 1998 Ballard found the Wreck of Yorktown , sunk at the Battle of Midway . Found 3 miles (5 km) Beneath the surface, it was photographed.


In 2002, the National Geographic Society and Ballard fielded a ship with remote vehicles to the Solomon Islands . Way Down SUCCEEDED in finding a torpedo tube and the forward section from the Shipwreck or John F. Kennedy ‘s PT-109 welke was rammed in 1943 by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off Ghizo Island . [7] The visit ook brought` to light the identity of islanders Biuku Gaza and Eroni Kumana who had RECEIVED little recognition for finding the shipwrecked crew after searching for days in hun dugout canoe . A TV special and a book ulcers produktie, and Ballard ghosts at the John F. Kennedy Library in 2005.

Institute for Exploration

In the 1990s Ballard founded the Institute for Exploration , welke gespecialiseerd in deep-sea archeology and deep-sea geology. It joined forces in 1999 with the Mystic Aquarium located in the euro in Mystic, Connecticut . Way Down are a part of the non-profit Sea Research Foundation, Inc.

Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography

In 2003, Ballard started the Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography , a research program at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. [8]

Black Sea

In 1976, Willard Bascom suggested therein the deep, anoxic waters of the Black Sea Might port preserved ships from antiquity Because Typical wood-Devouring organisms Could not survive there. At a depth of 150 m, it contains insufficient oxygen to support musts familiar biological life forms.

Originally a land-locked freshwater lake, the Black Sea was Flooded with salt water from the Mediterranean Sea prolongation the Holocene . The influx of salt water Essentially smothered the fresh water Projects it Because a Lack of internal motion and mixing Meant dat no fresh oxygen reached the deep waters, [9] customizing a meromictic body or water. The anoxic environment, welke is hostile to many biological organisms therein Destroy wood in the oxygenated waters, provides an excellent testing site for deep water archaeological survey.

In a series of expeditions, a team of marine archaeologists led by Ballard indicated with what Appeared to be ancient Shorelines, Freshwater snail shells, and Drowned river valleys in roughly 300 feet (100 m) or water off the Black Sea coast of modern Turkey . Radiocarbon dating of Freshwater mollusk resten indicated an age of about 7,000 years.

The team when sending three ancient wrecks to the west of the town of Sinop at Depths of 100 m. Wreck A and Wreck C then probably date to the late Roman period (2nd-4th century AD), while Wreck B then probably dates to the Byzantine period (5th to 7th century AD).

To the east of Sinop, the team when sending a remarkably well-preserved Wreck at a 320 m depth in the Black Sea’s deep anoxic waters. The vessel’s entire hull and cargo are intact, buried in sediments. Its deck structures are intact ook, zoals a mast rising some 11 meters into tje water column. Radiocarbon dating of wood from the Wreck zorgt a date or 410-520 AD It has leg named “Sinop D” at the Ballard team.

In 2000, the team conducted an expedition dat focused on the exploration of the sea bed about 15-30 km west of Sinop, and an additional_image_link deep-water survey east and north of the peninsula. Their project had verschillende goals. Way Down SOUGHT to discover Whether human habitation sites Could be those given on the ancient submerged landscape, ze Examined the sea-bed for shipwrecks (where they ‘found Sinop AD), to test the hypothesis therein the anoxic waters Projects 200m mention anything protect shipwrecks from the verwachte biological attacks on organic components, and to seek information about an ancient trade route tussen Sinop and the Crimea indicated by terrestrial archaeological resten.

Hoewel de Sinop served as a primary trade center in the Black Sea, the wrecks ulcers located in the euro west of the trade route predicted by the prevalence or Sinopian ceramics on the Crimean peninsula. On wrecks AC, mounds of distinctive carrot-shaped shipping jars, called amphorae , ulcers found. Way Down ulcers or a style associated with Sinop and Retained much hun original stacking pattern on the sea floor. The jars’ may harbor carried a variety of archetypal Black Sea products zoals olive oil, honey, wine or fish sauce but the contents are unknown Presently Because no artifacts ulcers Recovering from ANY of These Wreck sites in 2000.

The Wreck found Provided the team with solid information about the zowel technologische changes and trade therein occurred in the Black Sea prolongation a period of political, social and economic transition through hun study of the ship’s construction techniques. Studies show dat in Sinop prolongation the Byzantine era, they ‘had developed lung distance trading as early as 4500 BC. Sea Trading on the Black Sea were musts intense prolongation Repayment of late antiquity, tussen the 2nd and 7th eeuw AD. [10] The Examination of the four shipwrecks found by Ballard and his team bieden the direct evidence for Black Sea maritime trade as well attested by the distribution of ceramics on land.

The video images of Shipwreck A therein ulcers tasks show a wall of shipping jars standing about 2 m Above the SEABED. The amphorae Highest on the mound had Fallen on without displacing Those still standing in the rows Beneath Them, and it is LIKELY dat het ship settled upright on the sea bed, gradually being zowel buried in and filled with sediment as Exposed wood was devoured by the larva or the shipworm .

Shipwreck B ook consisted of a large pile of amphorae but verschillende types are visible, as are multiple timbers protruding from within the mound and on it. In addition under to the Sinop-styles jars, several amphorae similar to examples excavated on the Yassiada Byzantine Shipwreck and dating from the 5th to 6th century AD late are present. [11]

Two discrete and mostly buried piles or carrot-shaped shipping jars compromise Shipwreck C. The team’s visit to the site was short and was intended primarily to test survey methodology for deep-water procedures.

Shipwreck D Provided the team with an unprecedented opportunity to document hull construction prolongation a time of transition. When Observing the sonar signature of Shipwreck D, a long, slender upright feature on the SEABED, Transformed Itself JSON a wooden mast. Elements rarely present on shallower Shipwreck sites are beautifully preserved 200 m Projects the surface. Disappointingly for ship scholars and historiografie or technology, there are few Indications of how the planks or Sinop D are held together. There are no Mortise and Tenon FASTENINGS, and no sewing. Shipwreck D ‘may be one of the EARLIEST lateen -rigged ships to be studied by archaeologists. The angle of the mast and the Lack of fittings on it suggest dat a lateen sail is the Most likely configuration for zoals a small vessel.

The Institute for Exploration Black Sea expeditions relied on remote sensing with side-scan sonar in shallow and deep water to Identify potential archaeological sites Examined by ROVs . The hypothesis dat het anoxic waters of the Black Sea mention anything allow directive extraordinary organic preservation is borne out by the discovery of Sinop D, the 1,500-year-old Shipwreck with excellent preservation of features Above the sediment layer. [12]

Volgens to a report in New Scientist magazine (May 4, 2002, p. 13), the researchers found an underwater delta south of the Bosporus . There was evidence for a strong flow of fresh water out of the Black Sea in the 8th millennium BC . Ballard’s research has Contributed to the debate over the Black Sea Deluge theory .

Awards and receptacles

  • In 1988, he was Awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) at the University of Bath . [13]
  • In 1990, he RECEIVED the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award .
  • Kilby International Awards recipient in 1994 [14]
  • In 1996, the US Navy Memorial Foundation Awarded Ballard zijn Lone Sailor Award for his naval service and his work on underwater archeology.
  • The Caird Medal of the National Maritime Museum in 2002
  • The National Humanities Medal for 2003

Other works


In 2004, Ballard was appointed professor of oceanography , and Currently Serves as Director of the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, at the University of Rhode Island ‘s Graduate School of Oceanography.


Ballard served as the technical consultant on the science fiction series Seaquest DSV prolongation zijn first season from September 1993. Until May 1994. During the closing credits, he mention anything speak about the scientific elements therein ulcers present any ‘bepaald episode and place nemen in a contemporary context . Hoewel de have exited the series in the second season, he was referenced in the third season, with the “Ballard Institute” being named after im.


In 1989, Ballard founded the JASON Project , a distance education program designed to excite and engage middle school students in science and technology. He Began the JASON Project in response to the duizendtallen or letters have RECEIVED from students volgende his discovery of the Wreck of the Titanic . [15]


  1. Jump up^ Sea Research Foundation (2011). “About Robert Ballard” . . Retrieved 27 Apr 2012 .
  2. Jump up^ “Crew or Bismarck nov harbor sunk her” . Associated Press . June 23, 1989 . Retrieved 2008-11-19 .
  3. Jump up^ “An Interview with Dr. Robert Ballard” . . Retrieved 2005-10-17 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Smith, Lewis (2008-05-24). “Titanic search was cover for secret Cold War subs mission” . The Times . London . Retrieved 2008-05-26 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c Discovery Of Titanic
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e Ballard’s Titanic search was cover-up or secret US mission
  7. Jump up^ “JFK’s PT-109 Found, US Navy Confirms”.
  8. Jump up^ “Institute for Archaeological Oceanography” . University of Rhode Island. 2004-06-01 . Retrieved 17 March 2010 .
  9. Jump up^ Oğuz, T. Latun, USA, Latif, MA, Vladimirov, VL, Sur, HI, Markov, AA, özsoy E. Kotovschichkov, BB, Eremeev, UN, and Unluata, U., 1993, Circulation in the surface and intermediate layers,Deep-Sea Research1.40: 1597-612.
  10. Jump up^ Hiebert, F., 2001, Black Sea coastal cultures, trade and interaction,Expedition43: 11-20
  11. Jump up^ of Doorninck, FH Jr., 2002 Byzantine shipwrecks, A. Laiou (ed.),The Economic History of Byzantium from the Seventh through the Fifteenth CenturyI, 899-905. Dumbarton Oaks Studies 30, Washington, DC.
  12. Jump up^ Ballard, Robert D., and Ward, Cheryl, 2004. Deep-water Archaeological Survey in the Black Sea; 2000 Season,The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 33.1: 2-13, (online).
  13. Jump up^ “Honorary Graduates in 1989 to present” . . University of Bath . Retrieved 18 February 2012 .
  14. Jump up^
  15. Jump up^ “The JASON Project – History” . . Retrieved August 14, 2008 .