Dr. Robert Ballard is one of the best deep-sea explorers. He is best known for his amazing discoveries of old shipwrecks, including the RMS Titanic and the German battleship “Bismarck.” During his long career, he has led more than 120 deep-sea expeditions using the latest technology. He was also one of the first people to use submersibles to go deep into the ocean. Aside from exploring the deep sea, he was the first person to start distance learning courses in the U.S. and around the world with the JASON project. This is an award-winning educational program that reaches out to more than a million science students and deep-sea fans. He has won awards from the Explorers Club and the National Geographic Society, and he was just named president of the Institute of Exploration. Now, he travels with his new explorer ship, the “EN Nautilus,” and spends about five to six months at sea exploring places like the Atlantic Ocean, the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. He is one of the most famous and well-known people in the fields of marine geology and archaeology because of his love of oceans, his ability to write a lot, and his desire to design new technological ships. Keep reading to find out more interesting facts about this person.
Early years and childhood
Robert Ballard was born in Wichita, Kansas, and grew up in San Diego, California, in a neighborhood called Pacific Beach. When he was a young boy, he read a book called “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” which is what made him interested in the sea.
Soon, he became very interested in the ocean, and in 1962, he started working part-time for Andreas Rechnitzer’s Ocean Systems Group. During this time, he worked for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the submersible “Alvin.”
At the University of California, he got an undergraduate degree in both chemistry and geology, which he finished in 1965. He then got his Master of Science in geophysics from the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Geophysics.
In 1967, he started working on a Ph.D. in marine geology at the University of Southern California. His studies were cut short, though, when he was sent to the US Navy as an oceanographer.
Robert Ballard’s Career
In 1969, off the coast of Florida, he did his first professional dive in a submersible as part of an oceanographic expedition set up by Woods Hole. As part of his Ph.D. dissertation, he began making maps of different parts of the ocean. He worked hard for four years at the University of Rhode Island to get his Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics.
In the summer of 1975, he joined the French-American expedition Phere, which was looking for hydrothermal vents over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Around this time, his desire to find the Titanic became his obsession.
While on the French research ship Le Suroit, he started looking for the Titanic’s wreck using the SAR sonar vehicle. But the French ship had to go back, and Ballard and his team had to move quickly to another Woods Hole ship.
In 1982, he told the US Navy about his idea for the “Argo,” a new, technologically advanced underwater robot vehicle that would help him find the Titanic, the best ship ever lost at sea.
The Navy didn’t want to pay for the oceanographer’s trip because they thought it was a lost cause and that finding the Titanic would be very hard. But after some convincing and a promise that he would find two sunken submarines for them, the Navy finally agreed to let him use their money for his discovery.
While he and his team were looking for the sunken submarines, they found out that the pressure of the water caused the submarines to break apart and leave a trail of wreckage.
This made them realize that the same thing would have happened to the Titanic and that the only way to find the ship was to sweep back and forth across the ocean floor using the video feed from ‘Argo’ to look for the debris trail left by the Titanic.
Aside from a few strange things, the ocean floor looked smooth in the early hours of September 1, 1985. As the oddities on the bed grew, crater marks, boilers that had broken off, and pieces of furniture were found. Finally, the hull of the Titanic was found.
He and his team were thrilled to find out that the ship had broken in half and that the stern was in much worse shape than the rest of the ship. His fame was assured, and he didn’t want other people to steal artifacts from the Titanic’s grave site, so he didn’t tell anyone where the ship was buried.
In later dives to the Titanic, he found things, took pictures, and became a legend in the field of deep-sea exploration. After finding the wreck, he and his team went on even more dangerous dives and in 1989 found the German Battleship Bismarck. In the same year, he started a program for learning from afar called the JASON Project.
As part of the non-profit Sea Research Foundation, Inc., he started a group called the Institute for Exploration in 1990. This group focuses on deep-sea archaeology and geology.
In 1993, he looked into the shipwreck of the RMS Lusitania, which was hit by a torpedo and was the sister ship of the Titanic. After this, he went to many other World War II wreck sites in the Pacific. Eventually, he found the wrecks of the Yorktown, JFK’s PT-109, the Britannic, and the washed-out river valleys off the coast of the Black Sea.
At the Graduate School of Oceanography in Rhode Island, he started the Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography in 2003. The next year, he was given a job at the university as an oceanography professor.
Works of note
When he found the Titanic on September 1, 1985, it not only changed ocean archeology for good, but also made it possible for even more advanced technology to be made for use underwater. After the Titanic sank, he was the first person in 73 years to find the famous ship, which had gone down in 1912. The discovery is thought to be one of his best works because it was the first time that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was explored by people.
His masterpiece, “Lost Liners,” which came out in 1997, tells the stories of the beautiful ships and transatlantic liners that sank in the ocean. The book is a first-hand account of Ballard’s experiences and quests, from the RMS Titanic to the Phoenician ships and the Andrea Doria. The book sold more than 14,000 copies in the United States in the first week after it came out.
Awards & Achievements
In 1990, the Academy of Achievement gave him the Golden Plate Award for all the things he had found and done at sea.
In 1994, he was given the Kilby International Award.
In 1996, the US Navy Memorial Foundation gave him the “Lone Sailor Award” for his outstanding service in the Navy and his work in underwater archaeology, which was unmatched at the time.
In 2002, the National Maritime Museum gave him the Caird Medal for his work.
Personal History and Legacies
Ballard married a medical receptionist, Marjorie Jacobsen, in 1966. They had two sons, Todd and Douglas. But in 1990, they got a divorce. Then, in January 1991, he married Barbara Earle. He and Barbara have two children, William and Emily.
Robert Ballard’s son went with him on his trip to find the German battleship, Bismarck, after it sank. Three weeks after the discovery, his 21-year-old son died in a car accident. This was a very sad thing for him.
Estimated Net worth
Robert Ballard is an oceanography professor with a $10 million net worth. Robert Ballard was born in June of 1942 in the city of Wichita, Kansas.
He used to be an officer in the U.S. Navy, and now he teaches at the University of Rhode Island. Ballard is known for his work in underwater archeology, maritime archeology, and shipwreck archeology.
This well-known oceanographer has worked on many deep-sea projects with National Geographic and helped James Cameron make the movie “Titanic.” The wreck of the ship is shown in the first few scenes of the movie. These scenes were filmed with the help of this famous person and his team.