US Navy Names Ship After Retired Commander

A future Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship with the U.S. Navy will be named after University of Rhode Island Professor Robert Ballard. The ship will be named USNS Robert Ballard (T-AGS 67), according to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.

Ballard is a retired U.S. Navy commander and is widely known for the discovery of the final resting place of the R.M.S. Titanic.

“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,” Del Toro said. “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.”

Choosing to name the ship after Ballard follows the tradition of naming survey ships after explorers, oceanographers, and distinguished marine surveyors, according to the Navy.

“Honoring Dr. Ballard’s legacy by name on a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship will inspire those on board to continue to reveal the secrets held within Earth’s ocean as he has throughout his remarkable career,” said Paula Bontempi, dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

Aside from his 1985 discovery of the Titanic, he also led other shipwreck discoveries, including USS Yorktown (CV-5), USS Quincy (CA-39) and President John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. Ballard is also the president and founder of Ocean Exploration Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration of the global ocean, which is an active partner with URI.

Survey ships, like the future USNS Robert Ballard, use multi-beam, wide-angle precision sonar systems, according to URI, and have charted three-fourths of the world’s coastlines, making it easier for navigators to find their way along both well-traveled and not-so-familiar shipping routes.

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