JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The University of Southern Mississippi is about to embark on a new adventure in association with the Ocean Exploration Trust to see what is in the Gulf of Mexico.
Representatives traveled to the State Capitol on Tuesday to meet with the Governor Tate Reeves and legislators to let them in on what’s about to happen.
The person heading up the project nationally is Dr. Robert Ballard. He is the researcher who first discovered the RMS Titanic in 1985 and the battleship Bismark in 1989. Ballard is excited to get his feet wet in the Gulf.
“We’re literally doing the second Lewis and Clark expedition. We own more land under the ocean than any other nation on earth and yet we have better maps of Mars than half the United States of America. And we want to change that. And working with the University of Southern Mississippi and their base of operations in Gulfport is critical to this enterprise,” explained Ballard.
USM’s contribution to this effort is the research vessel, the Dr. Robert R. Mason. Dr. Mason was a Gulf Coast physician who organized wade-ins on Mississippi beaches during the 1960’s. The vessel was made possible through BP Oil Spill settlement funds that were awarded to USM. The keel for the ship will be laid next month.