How A Top-Secret Naval Mission Led To The Discovery Of The Titanic

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– The mission that discovered the Titanic was facilitated by a top-secret Navy project.

Claiming the lives of more than 1,500 of its passengers, the sinking of the Titanic is perhaps the most well-known maritime disaster. After hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage, the ocean liner sank to a depth of over 12,000 feet. There it sat for the next 73 years, an unseen reminder of the cost of human error. In 1985, famed oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard managed to discover the wreck, but he wouldn’t have managed to do so if it weren’t for a covert Navy expedition.

In 1982, Ballard asked the United States Navy to fund his search for the RMS Titanic. At the time, he had developed a robotic submarine that attracted the Navy’s interest, so they managed to strike a deal. The Navy would fund two secret ventures aimed at discovering the wrecks of the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion, two nuclear submarines that went missing in 1963, respectively 1968, and Ballard would be in charge of the operations.

The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. Her loss at sea in the North Atlantic during deep-diving tests approximately 220 miles east of Boston, Massachusetts, on 10 April 1963 was a watershed event for the U.S. Navy, leading to the implementation of a rigorous submarine safety program known as SUBSAFE. Judging by the 129 crew members and shipyard personnel who were killed in the incident, historic context and significance, the sinking of Thresher was then, and remains today, the world’s worst submarine disaster. This was the first U.S. nuclear submarine lost at sea.

USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Skipjack-class nuclear submarine of the United States Navy and the sixth vessel of the U.S. Navy to carry that name. Scorpion was lost on 22 May 1968, with 99 crewmen dying in the incident. The USS Scorpion is one of two nuclear submarines the U.S. Navy has lost, the other being USS Thresher.[3] It was one of four mysterious submarine disappearances in 1968; the others being the Israeli submarine INS Dakar, the French submarine Minerve (S647) and the Soviet submarine K-129.

If Dr. Ballard managed to find and map the two wrecks, he could use the remainder of the Navy capital to go looking for the Titanic.

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