Titanic was cover for military mission The first expedition to go in search of the Titanic was a decoy for the examination of two sunken nuclear submarines.
Oceanographer Bob Ballard has revealed that his successful 1985 expedition to find the Titanic also served as cover for a top-secret mission for the US Government.
Speaking on Good Morning America on 2 June, Ballard revealed that the search for the famous liner covered the tracks of operations to find and examine two nuclear submarines, USS Thresher and USS Scorpion, sunk in the Atlantic in 1963 and 1968 respectively.
Because the US Navy 'didn't want the Soviets to know they were looking for these subs', said Ballard, a search for the Titanic would explain away the build-up of US ships that accompanied operations.
Ballard, only recently freed to talk about the mission, said that the locations of the submarines had never been mapped accurately, and that the Navy struck a deal whereby, once they had been located and examined, it would finance further operations to find the Titanic.
Ballard scanned the North Atlantic seabed, located the subs and, using advanced ROV technology, was able to explore and film the wrecks.
To everyone's relief, the submarines' nuclear materials were stable. 'The key was that both nuclear reactors had turned off. They call it scrambling and control rods had gone down. So it was a good ending,' said Ballard.
He added that, having noted that the wrecks' debris fields were a good mile long, he recognised that locating the Titanic's debris field might well be the first step to locating the wreck itself.
This helped him find the liner during the 12 days in which, having completed work on the submarines, he was able to go in search of the Titanic under the terms of his Navy contract.