Archaeologist, Explorer, Scientist, Professor, Serviceman
Robert Duane Ballard, born on 30 June 1942, is one of America's most renowned and well-known marine explorers alive today. Famous for his discovery of the RMS Titanic in 1985, Ballard is also known around the world for his amazing advances to the archaeological community, having been one of the top contributors to the creation of the Argo, a remotely-operated underwater vehicle. The Argo, under the operation and control of Ballard, would later go on to discover and analyze a variety of famous historical shipwrecks, ranging from the WWII era German battleship Bismarck to the PT-109 motor torpedo boat operated and lost by a young John F. Kennedy. In this presentation, we will look at the life and accomplishments of Robert Ballard, and discuss how he, as a universally-known explorer and scientist, was able to do all of the amazing work that he is still recognized for today.
"So, you know, I think the age of exploration is just beginning, not ending, on our planet." - Robert Ballard
The Argo, developed by Robert Ballard using the Deep Submergence Laboratory of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, is an unmanned undersea camera sled used to study the ocean and conduct scientific research regarding underwater features & artifacts. The sled can reach a depth of 20,000 feet, with 98% of the ocean floor within reach of the Argo. It is equipped with a variety of tools used for scientific research, including a camera array and a side scan sonar. The Argo, operated by Ballard, is famous for its 1985 discovery of the wreck of the RMS Titanic, as well as its discovery of the Bismarck battleship employed by the Germans during WWII.
Other Marine Archaeology Work
- Ballard has discovered and/or analyzed a variety of famous shipwrecks using his Argo camera sled (see below)
- Ballard has founded the Institute of Exploration, specializing in deep-sea geology and archaeology
- Ballard has founded the Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography, located at Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography
- Ballard has conducted a variety of exploratory and scientific explorations & investigations in the Black Sea
- Ballard serves as the Director of the Institute of Archaeological Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography
List of Famous Shipwrecks Discovered or Analyzed by Ballard
- The RMS Titanic (1985)
- The German Battleship Bismarck (1989)
- The RMS Lusitania (1993)
- Various Ships Lost in the Battle of Guadalcanal in WWII (Dates Vary)
- The USS Yorktown (1998)
- The PT-109 Motor Torpedo Boat of John F. Kennedy (2002)
Importance of Work
Dr. Robert Ballard's work is extremely important to the scientific and archaeological communities. The Argo is still used today to explore and conduct scientific research in the ocean, and has proven to be a valuable tool in ocean study and shipwreck discovery & analysis. The shipwrecks discovered by Ballard are also extremely important, as they provide historical and scientific evidence regarding each ship and the cause of its wreck. Furthermore, Ballard's work at the University of Rhode Island means that he can help future generations of marine archaeologists in order to further and advance oceanographic research.
Personal Life, Education, and Military Service
Robert Ballard was born on June 30, 1942 in Wichita, Kansas to parents of British and German heritage. Growing up in San Diego, California, Ballard was interested in underwater exploration since a young age, with his fascination of the ocean and its mysteries leading to his completion of degrees in chemistry and geology at the University of California. Ballard then obtained a graduate degree in geophysics from the University of Hawaii, eventually getting married to his wife soon after his graduation. However, while working on a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, Ballard was called into active duty for the U.S. Army, eventually transferring to the Navy due to his interest in oceanography and underwater exploration. After much of his scientific and exploration career, Ballard retired from the Navy as a Commander in 1995, and today lives in the town of Lyme, Connecticut with his wife Barbra Ballard. Robert has four children.