The Incredible Story That Led To The Discovery Of The Titanic

The Incredible Story That Led To The Discovery Of The Titanic

For the first time, a man reveals to the general public the amazing story of the Titanic's discovery. A story that includes the army, the Soviet Union and a pair of nuclear submarines.

Who would have thought that the discovery of Titanic had a story worthy of a spy novel? In 1985, oceanographer Robert Ballard and his team unearth the wreck of the legendary liner, aboard the French research vessel Le Suroît. What the researcher did not have the right to reveal at the time was that this mission was funded by the US military... and served as a cover to deceive the Soviet Union.

A top secret mission

In the 1960s, the US Navy lost two nuclear attack submarines: USS Thresher and USS Scorpion. The first sank in 1963 during tests, with 129 crew members on board. The second, took with it no less than 99 people to the bottom in 1968, for reasons that have still not been discovered. In 1982, the scientist Robert Ballard presented the Navy his underwater robot Argo, with which he expected to go searching for the Titanic.

The army then offered him an agreement. They would finance the expedition planned by Ballard and his team, but they would first have to fulfill a top secret mission: to find the two lost submarines, to estimate the state of their nuclear reactors and the amount of radioactivity potentially released into the environment. All of this, of course, without attracting the attention of the Russians.

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73 years after the sinking

Thanks to the side-scan sonar that equipped the research vessel and the Argo's video equipment, the researchers managed to locate the wrecks of the submarines, which imploded under the influence of oceanic pressure. The many debris scattered around the shipwreck sites greatly facilitated their discovery, and Ballard and his team started using what they had learned as they searched for the Titanic.

Eight days later, the ship was found by Le Suroît. Irregularities lining the ocean floor attracted the attention of the researchers and soon the monitor of the Argo came back with the image of a boiler, near the hull of the Titanic. More than 73 years after the sinking, which took away with it nearly 1500 passengers, the Titanic could finally reveal its secrets.

• Abbie Marshall
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