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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Paint the Titanic

Does anybody know if Ballard has gotten anywhere with his plans to paint the Titanic? Back in 2005 he was promoting an effort to preserve the most famous of all shipwrecks as a museum. He wanted to stem the corrosive action of the ship's deep sea grave by adding an anti-fouling cover to the skin of the vessel. According to interviews with the renowned oceanographer from Kansas City, he had planned to experiment with smaller sunken wrecks. Meanwhile, I have heard nothing further about his efforts, except that a few days ago I was reminded of the plan when someone on an archeology mailing list mentioned it in regards to legal ownership of underwater sites.

My ambivalence here is twofold: (1) The Titanic is a precious grave site fated to dissolve into history and, (2) Anti-fouling pain is a pollutant. If you dumped a 55 gallon drum of it overboard and someone in authority saw you do it chances are you would be fined or imprisoned or both. Obviously, Ballard is thinking he might be able to devise a system whereby a protective coating is applied without harm to the ocean. I can think of a lot of reasons why coming up with a way to do this would be of great benefit to industry and the environment, but I have mixed feelings about doing it on the Titanic, or for that matter, any other shipwreck.


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