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The real secret behind search for Titanic

world Updated: May 26, 2008 00:20 IST

PTI
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The search for the wreckage of the Titanic was actually a Cold War cover story for a secret mission to find the remains of two nuclear submarines, the oceanographer who located the luxury liner has revealed.

Dr Bob Ballard, who led a team in 1985 that found the wreckage of the ship 73 years after it sank in the Atlantic, has claimed that he had to find and inspect the remains of the two submarines in a top secret mission for the US Navy before he was allowed to locate the Titanic.

“I couldn’t tell anybody. There was a lot of pressure on me. It was a secret mission. I felt it was a fair exchange for getting a chance to look for the Titanic.

“We handed the data to the experts. They never told us what they concluded our job was to collect the data. I can only talk about it now because it has been declassified,” The Sunday Telegraph quoted Ballard as saying.

When USS Thresher and USS Scorpion nuclear submarines sank during the 1960s, more than 200 men lost their lives and suspicions were raised that at least one of them, Scorpion, had been sunk by the erstwhile USSR.

In 1982, Ballard approached the US Navy for funding to search for the Titanic with a robotic submarine craft that he had developed.

He was told that the military were not prepared to spend large sums of money on locating the liner, but they did want to know what had happened to the submarines. Officials were anxious to find out how the nuclear reactors had fared after being under water for so long.

The oceanographer was given funding to embark on two expeditions, one to find the wreck of Thresher in 1984 off the eastern coast of the US, and another to find Scorpion in the eastern Atlantic.

It was only once these missions were completed that Ballard claimed to have located the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, which sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg with the loss of 1,500 lives.