Bob Ballard, former Downey High School football player, Class of 1960.

Downey Unified is continuously proud of all our alumni and the incredible achievements that they each attain once graduating from our district. There are many who have achieved great feats both professionally and personally; however, we would like to recognize one of our Downey High School alumnus for his recent recognition and professional achievement.

Robert “Bob” Ballard, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, graduated from Downey High School in 1960 and was honored in 1999 as an inaugural member of the Downey High School Hall of Fame for his many accomplishments, including the discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents in 1977 and for finding the Titanic’s wreckage at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 1985. Among his many other significant discoveries, he is credited with finding the Nazi warship Bismarck, Aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown and JFK’s PT-109.

As a prominent figure in the world of Marine research, he has participated in numerous major TV specials and educational programs, including his very own the JASON Project, a distance learning program that reached 12M school children.

This past December, Dr. Ballard was honored by the US Navy for his various ocean exploration achievements as they formally announced that a future Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship would be named USNS Robert Ballard (T-AGS 67) in his honor!

As noted in the Navy Public Affairs’ release, published shortly after this announcement, Dr. Ballard shared, “I am humbled to have the U.S. Navy’s oceanographic ship, USNS Robert Ballard (T-AGS 67) as a namesake. As a 17-year-old, in 1959, I went on my very first oceanographic cruise, and very early in my oceanographic career, the U.S. Navy placed a central role and continues to do so to this day. It is indeed an honor to know that the USNS Robert Ballard will continue to explore the oceans long after I am gone.”

In 2021, Dr. Ballard released his book, Into the Deep: A Memoir From the Man Who Found Titanic, published by National Geographic. This book looks back on his life and shares insights into his famous exploits and unveils a major new discovery on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Titanic find.

Read more about Dr. Ballard and the US Army’s naming of T-AGS 67 here.

The moment of discovery of the Titanic, September 1, 1985

If you’re interested in learning more about our former Viking’s journey and mission locating the Titanic’s famous last resting place, watch the YouTube video here of Dr. Ballard speaking at the University of Rhode Island, filmed to commemorates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

*All photos are those featured in, Into the Deep: A Memoir From the Man Who Found Titanic