Almost immediately after the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912, attempts were made to recover the bodies of those who had gone down with the ship and the wreckage. However, limited diving technology at the time prevented the reality of the situation from becoming a more than seven decades old.
According to The New York Times, the debris was discovered on September 1, 1985, during a collaborative expedition led by Robert Ballard, an American oceanographer and Navy officer, and Jean-Louis Michel, a French oceanographer. This happened 38 years ago today.
The USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher, the remains of two atomic submarines, were on a covert operation to search for something entirely unrelated to the Titanic initially, but the plunge.
However, it was not disclosed to the public until 2008 when Ballard unveiled the true purpose of the expedition to National Geographic.
“The Navy is finally talking about it,” Ballard informed National Geographic in 2008.
In 1982, Ballard initially met with the US Navy to obtain financial support for a novel form of underwater technology that would enable him to locate the Titanic. The Navy agreed to fund the project, but on the condition that it would also be utilized for exploring the submerged submarines. According to the United States Naval Institute, the USS Thresher sank in April 1963, while the USS Scorpion met the same fate five years later, in May 1968. These two nuclear submarines remain the Navy’s sole losses.
Once they verified if the Soviet Union had any involvement in their sinking and located the submarines, the Navy authorized Ballard to explore for the Titanic if there was any remaining time in the mission.
Ronald Thunman, who was serving as the deputy chief of naval operations for submarine warfare, informed National Geographic that there was no evidence suggesting the presence of an external weapon responsible for the sinking of the ship.
The ship had a hunch that Ballard was able to find the Titanic using a trail of debris, splitting it in two. Ballard left the mission with 12 days remaining.
“That’s what saved our behinds,” Ballard remarked to National Geographic. “It turned out to be true.”
Ballard stated that the Navy was anxious that individuals would realize the true reason behind their extensive search of the ocean floor.
Ballard stated, “The Navy did not anticipate my discovery of the Titanic, and thus when it occurred, they became extremely anxious due to the media attention.” “However, individuals were so fixated on the myth surrounding the Titanic that they failed to make the connections.”
23 years later, Ballard revealed the truth regarding his expedition. In his publication “The Uncovering of the Titanic,” he additionally detailed his encounter discovering the vessel.