BY TIM HEDGLEY, TRAVEL EDITOR
DR Robert Ballard, the ocean explorer who discovered Titanic in 1985, opened a new Ocean Exploration Centre (OEC) today at Titanic Belfast.
Former US Navy Officer Ballard, who found RMS Titanic 73 years after its tragic maiden voyage, cut the ribbon on the state-of-the-art OEC which is the first installment of the visitor attraction’s investment programme, coming almost two years after Belfast’s iconic tourist attraction first opened.
The new OEC at Titanic Belfast boasts technology unique to the venue, bringing valuable insights to the undersea world and its mysteries to visitors and education groups of all ages.
It will also offer exciting live interactions with Dr. Ballard’s exploration vessel E/V Nautilus as it explores the world’s oceans, as well as an exclusive link with Dr. Ballard’s Inner Space Centre in Rhode Island, USA.
Dr Robert Ballard said: “It is an honour for me to open for me to open this fantastic ocean exploration centre which is full of fun and educational exhibits. It adds to the visitor experience at Titanic Belfast, and adds to the legacy of Titanic. Indeed, it is a product of Titanic’s legacy; that great ship continues to educate us to this day and will continue to inspire our learning.
“I’m excited about linking up through live interactions with the OEC at Titanic Belfast from my exploration vessel E/V Nautilus – it makes it all the more worthwhile to know that at the other end young people and the young at heart will be learning about the oceans and its wonders.”
The new OEC at Titanic Belfast is supported by the Titanic Foundation Limited.
Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation Limited, said: “Extensive research has been invested into the content in the new Ocean Exploration Centre at Titanic Belfast, and the experience it will offer visitors. It’s an exciting and important addition which will leave visitors appreciative of Belfast’s remarkable ship-building history, and of the waters that surround us.
“Titanic Belfast welcomes the exciting challenge to inspire and inform as it tells the enduring story of RMS Titanic, and we are very confident the new OEC will more than meet that challenge.”
Titanic Belfast is an iconic six-floor building featuring nine interpretive and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as the City and people which made her. It is the World’s Largest Titanic exhibition.
The building houses temporary exhibits, a banqueting suite, education and community facilities, catering and retail space, and a basement car park. Visitors learn about the construction of RMS Titanic and the wide and rich story of Northern Ireland’s industrial and maritime heritage.
Supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, Titanic Belfast is a unique public/private partnership funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Ltd. It is operated by Titanic Belfast Ltd and owned by the Titanic Foundation Ltd.