SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The man who discovered the shipwreck of the Titanic is weighing in on the underwater search for the missing Malaysian Airliner.
Dr. Robert Ballard is in town to give a lecture for UC-Santa Barbara's Arts and Lectures Program. Ballard is a UCSB graduate and has led more than 100 deep sea expeditions. One of his most famous underwater discoveries was the Titanic. He said, "Ironically, my greatest discovery was hydrothermal vents, but the one the public wants me to say is Titanic, which was really a relocation. But, no the Titanic, clearly in the public eye, was the greatest thing I did. But, for my faculty members at UCSB, the greatest thing I did was the discovery of hydrothermal vents in the Galápagos."
Since Ballard uncovered one of the most legendary shipwrecks of all time, he has a unique view on the long and extensive search in the southern Indian Ocean for missing Flight 370. Ballard said, "Most of the Indian Ocean is completely unmapped. It's one of the most unexplored parts of the worlds oceans. It's in a place we know very little about."
The U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21 is scanning the ocean floor for signs of the jetliner. But, it hasn't found anything of interest yet, likely because the search site is so vast. On Sunday, the search area was expanded. "If you're not looking in the right box you're not going to find it. The Titanic box was 150 square miles and clearly the first box they looked into was not the right box. So, they're going to go back at it. Its just a very slow process and it will take quite some time."
Ballard says he hasn't been called in to help with the search. But, his crew and his ship "E-V Nautilus" are ready to go at any time. Ballard said, "We could be over there in 45 days if we were asked. We've done this in the past. We were called into play when the Syrians shot down a Turkish war plane over Syria. We went in, in 48 hours, found the airplane, brought up the black box, brought up the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot. We know how to do this, but we are are the sidelines right now."
Ballard is getting ready to head back out to sea for more expeditions in June and will be back in Santa Barbara with his ship in November. He says part of his mission is to get more people interested in the ocean. Ballard said, "It scares a lot of people and people are really not interested unfortunately. What we're trying to do is change that. We're bringing the ship into the Pacific Ocean. We're going to use UCSB as one of our downlink sites. We are going to be beaming our expeditions into the marine facility. We're bringing local students from the Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA's and schools to actually come and watch our expedition live."
To watch Ballard's live expeditions or for more information click here