Named for the futuristic submarine vessel in Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” Ballard’s Nautilus wanders the paths of the sea with an on-board team of technicians and researchers, and linked to other experts in facilities around the world, exploring underwater geology, recording unknown life forms, and locating famed wrecks of ships from bygone eras.
Best of all, it all shows up online as it happens.Dr. Robert Ballard and team investigate a 500-foot anomaly on the bottom of the ocean. (Screengrab of Nautiluslive.org)
This morning, Monday, July 7, 2014, word came through that they were about to send the remote-operated-vehicles Argus and Hercules to investigate a 500-foot (152-meter) anomaly picked up by sonar months earlier by an oil survey in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I can’t wait,” Ballard said over the feed. “I’m like a kid.”
It could be a ship.
It could be a rock.
Time will tell, and you can be there when it does. Watch at nautiluslive.org and be part of the discovery.
Exploration lasting more than an hour revealed that the 500-foot mystery object is in fact a shipwreck. Emerging from the darkness, first scattered debris, then the telltale silhouette of a hull told the crew that this was certainly no rocky outcropping. Pulling from his extensive experience examining wrecks, Ballard directed the rovers to examine painted markings, huge platforms built on a superstructure, and other key features to aid in the identification of the ship’s purpose and time period.
Lack of deterioration and coral growth combined with the presence of a satellite dish made it clear the wreck had met its fate not too long ago.
Structures and identifying markers were used by the team and international online viewers to deduce that the wreck is that of the USS Peterson (DD-969), a destroyer commissioned in the 1970s and active till the early 2000s. Visit nautiluslive.org for more details, photos, and a highlight video!