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    Friday, January 27, 2023

    Navy to name new survey ship after Bob Ballard of Lyme

    Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced Wednesday that the Navy will name a future Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship after Titanic discoverer Bob Ballard of Lyme.

    Del Toro also designated Ballard’s wife, Barbara Earle Ballard, as the sponsor of the the USNS Robert Ballard.

    “I am humbled to have the U.S. Navy’s oceanographic ship, USNS Robert Ballard (T-AGS 67) as a namesake. As a 17-year-old, in 1959, I went on my very first oceanographic cruise, and very early in my oceanographic career, the U.S. Navy placed a central role and continues to do so to this day,” said the 80-year-old Ballard in the Navy’s announcement. “It is indeed an honor to know that the USNS Robert Ballard will continue to explore the oceans long after I am gone.”

    The 329-foot long Pathfinder class vessels are operated by the Military Sealift Command. The Navy said the naming of the ship after Ballard follows its tradition of naming survey ships after explorers, oceanographers and distinguished marine surveyors.

    “Dr. Ballard’s career, explorations, research and focus on teaching the next generation of oceanographers is remarkable, and I am pleased to name T-AGS 67 in his honor,” said Del Toro in the announcement. “One of my enduring priorities is building a culture of warfighting excellence, and that includes lifelong learning amongst DoN personnel. The name Robert Ballard displayed across the stern of this ship will serve as an inspiration to all who see it while highlighting the results of commitment to education and exploration.”

    Ballard, a retired Navy commander, formerly led the Institute for Exploration at Mystic Aquarium and is the founder and president of the Ocean Exploration Trust, which he runs from an office on the campus of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London.

    Over the course of his long career, Ballard has located modern wrecks such as John F. Kennedy's PT-109, the Lusitania and the USS Yorktown as well as ancient ones that plied trade routes in the Black Seas. He has searched for Amelia Earhart's plane, discovered strange lifeforms in the deep ocean and made groundbreaking discoveries involving the geology and chemistry of the ocean. He's also developed ocean exploration vehicles as well as a system in which scientists and students around the globe can participate in his expeditions in real time.

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