The man who located the wreck of the Titanic has revealed that the discovery was a cover-up for the real mission of inspecting the wrecks of two Cold War nuclear submarines.
When Bob Ballard led a team that pinpointed the wreckage of the liner in 1985, he had already completed his main task of finding out what happened to USS Thresher and USS Scorpion.
Both of the U.S. Navy vessels sank during the 1960s, killing more than 200 men and giving rise to fears that at least one of them, Scorpion, had been sunk by the Soviet Union.
Ballard, an oceanographer, has admitted that he located and inspected the wrecks for the U.S. Navy in top secret missions before he was allowed to search for the Titanic.
A robotic underwater craft, which Ballard developed in the early 1980s, mapped the submarine wreck sites. Then, he was able to use it to crisscross the North Atlantic seabed to pinpoint the final resting place of the luxury liner. He had only 12 days to do so.
Ballard said what he had seen during the inspection of the submarine wrecks gave him the idea of finding a trail of debris that would lead to the main sections of the Titanic. Thresher, had imploded deep beneath the surface and had broken up into thousands of pieces and Scorpion was almost as completely destroyed.
“It was as though it had been put through a shredding machine," Ballard said. "There was a long debris trail.”
Ballard's mission for the U.S. Navy took place in 1982. The Titanic sunk in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, killing 1,500 people.
“I couldn’t tell anybody,” he said. “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.