Locating The Titanic
Robert Ballard and his French partner, Jean-Louis Michel, huddled over the maps and charts before them. Lifeboats We know that the Carpathia picked up the lifeboats right about here. The Titanic must be north of that point. If we start there and work north, were bound to find her. Robert exclaimed. Robert Ballard, leader of the American exploration, was teamed with Jean-Louis Michel, leader of the French efforts, to conquer the formidable task of locating the sunken Titanic and bring back pictures for the waiting world to see. They were aboard the Woods Hole research ship Knorr, and were manning the first full-scale search for the wreck.
Their joint efforts began on
board the French ship Le Suroit, and they used Jean-Louis brand-new SAR system.
Jean-Louis and his expert
French team had done their best but after six weeks they still hadnt found any sign
of the Titanic. It was now up to the American half of the expedition. After six weeks of
vigorous searching, they had found nothing. With five weeks remaining, the dream of
finding the Titanic was turning out to be a constant fight against time and nature. They
French and American expedition teams transferred from the French ship Le Suroit to the
American ship Knorr. The Knorr was equipped with Argo
Out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, half way through their expedition, they were plotting a new strategy to help search for the Titanic. Because of the time constraints, Robert Ballard instituted a new search plan. He knew that when things fall in deep water, the tend to drift and scatter by ocean currents, which results in a long trail of debris. To save time and effort, he decided to concentrate efforts on looking for the debris field. Since Argo was equipped with cameras, instead of sonar, Robert hoped that it would be easier to spot the debris and then track it to the source.
Towing Argo was a delicate balancing act. If the Knorr went too fast, Argo would lift too high off the bottom for its cameras to see anything. If the ships speed was too slow, Argo might crash to the bottom. Keeping a tight balance between Knorr and Argo was an extremely tough and tiring job.
There was only five days left to go. Suddenly the ocean seemed huge, and our doubts began to grow described Robert. In a last effort, they decided to check out a tiny portion of ocean bottom, ten miles away, that Jean-Louis and his SAR sonar system had missed because of strong currents.
Just after midnight, on September 1, 1985, they spotted something. Within a blink of an eye everyone on the night patrol was wide-awake and anxious to see what they found. The crew cheered yelling Bingo and Yeah. As everyone watched closely, all sorts of man-made objects flew by the screen. Then a huge-round circular object appeared. Jean-Louis quickly checked in some of his books and was astonished to find a picture of one of Titanics unique boilers that matched the screen completely. Robert Ballard jumped out of his bunk and ran to the control room as soon as he heard the news. They replayed the tape and no one said anything. Robert looked over at Jean-Louis and the look in his eyes said everything - the Titanic had been found.
They began to make their first sweep with Argo. As Argo passed over the main hull of the Titanic, Robert ordered them to lower Argo to 16 feet. He was determined to get many clear pictures to show the world. A faint outline of Titanics hull became clearer and clearer on the screen as they got closer. All of a sudden the boat deck of the ship leaped into view and the crew got the first clear view of the Titanic.
As the news of their discovery spread throughout the ship, more and more people gathered in the control room. Someone pointed out that it was almost two in the morning, ironically close to the exact hour of Titanics sinking. All of a sudden the room became silent. The emotions that filled each crewmember at that moment were virtually synonymous with Robert Ballards, who thought: Here at the bottom of the ocean lay not only the graveyard of a great ship, but of more than 1,500 people who had gone down with her. And we were the very first people in seventy-three years to come to this spot to pay our respects. Images from the night of the disaster - a story I now knew by heart - flashed through my mind. Out on the stern of the Knorr, people had started to gather for a few moments of silence in memory of those who had died on the Titanic. They then raised the Harland & Wolff flag, the emblem of the great liner, to half-mast. The little memorial service last about ten minutes before Robert said, Thank you all. Now lets get back to work.