Secret Titanic mission

Bob Ballard has revealed that he went in search of the Titanic only after being required to find the wrecks of two Cold War nuclear submarines.

Coincidentally, I was browing wikis only yesterday about the very same subject. On spotting a Dutch submarine (Walrus) in Cork, I looked it up, which led me to other submarines, like the latest Virginia class US subs, then on to a story about the Thresher and Scorpion and theories surrounding their loss.

One of the stories relates to K-129, which is rumoured to have attempted a nuclear strike on Pearl Harbour in 1968. The story went that the Scorpion was sunk by another Russian sub in retaliation for the Swordfish sinking the K-129 before it could launch its attack.

It also led me to the interesting anecdote of the falling H-bomb in, Palomares, Spain in 1966. The fisherman, Simó Orts, who saw where the bomb dropped into the sea, claimed salvage rights.

It is customary maritime law that the person who identifies the location of a ship to be salved has the right to a salvage award if that identification leads to a successful recovery. The amount is nominal, usually 1 or 2 percent, sometimes a bit more, of the intrinsic value to the owner of the thing salved. But the thing salved off Palomares was a hydrogen bomb, the same bomb valued by no less an authority than the Secretary of Defense at $2 billion—each percent of which is, of course, $20 million.

The Air Force settled out of court for an undisclosed sum

As we say in Cork, how bad.