If you are interested in maritime archeology and the archeology of shipwrecks, you have certainly heard the name of Robert Ballard, the scientist who explored so many major diving sites on wrecks and came back from these explorations with so much important scientific data.
The Bismarck, the Lusitania and the Titanic – these are the wrecks the name of which will be forever linked to the name of Robert Ballard. He discovered the remains of what was perhaps the world’s most famous ship, the Titanic, in September, 1985. The trip that ended with the discovery was originally financed by the U.S. Navy for finding two nuclear attack submarines – Ballard got the go-ahead to search for the famous ocean liner only after he had successfully completed the search for the submarines. In 1989, Ballard undertook another mission: the search for the long-sunken German battleship, the Bismarck. The quest was followed in 1993 by the investigation of the wreck of the Lusitania to perform a forensic analysis of the causes that led to the sinking of the ship.
Robert Ballard continued his activity as a deep sea explorer: in 1998 he found the U.S.S. Yorktown, a ship sunk during the Battle of Midway and he conducted several expeditions on the Black Sea and on the Mediterranean, into the deep, anoxic waters. The theory that gave birth to the idea of exploring wrecks so deep in the waters was that environments with very little oxygen preserve objects in their original condition because the life forms that thrive on oxygen are not there – if the expedition could find a way to dive so deep into the sea, they would be able to find very old ships, maybe even ships that sank thousands of years ago.
In the 1990’s Ballard founded an Institute for Exploration specializing in deep-sea genealogy and archeology and, in 2003, he started a research program called Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island where he still works as a professor. George Ballard is one of the most important specialists of the deep waters – his discoveries of the world’s most famous wrecks rank him among the true explorers of modern times, while his in-depth knowledge of the most modern technologies used in deep sea explorations such as sonars and robots are fortunately passed on to newer generations by means of his teaching activity.