Current Issue Links
Sunday evening April 15, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, my wife Thelma, youngest
daughter Amber and I had the privilege of attending the third annual Explorers Club West Coast Dinner.
This was a black-tie affair, and I was forced to rent and wear a tux for the third time in my life. The
auspicious event was held at the Bowers Museum in downtown Santa Ana and was really an awards
ceremony to bestow on Emory Kristof the third annual Ralph B White Memorial Award for Oceanographic
Exploration and Conservation of the Seas.
Kristof is a pioneer of the innovative, high-tech underwater photography using robot cameras and
remotely operated vehicles that enabled Robert Ballard to discover the Titanic wreck site in 1985.
It was Kristof’s iconic photos of Titanic that were featured in the pages of the National Geographic, for
which he worked from 1963 until 2001 when he was named a contributing photographer-in-residence.
In keeping with Titanic’s special anniversary, the dinner theme was “A Night To Remember” and our
dinner menu was right off of the ship’s First-Class menu. I will not bore you by going into the delicious details
of our two-course meal that night, but it was a meal my palate will remember.
After dinner we gathered in the museum’s Norma Kershaw Audi-torium where Explorers Club President
Alan Nichols and former recipient Dr. Don Walsh presented Kristof with his well-earned award. Kristof then
gave an excellent acceptance speech illustrated with some of his more famous underwater photographs.
Pointing to a photo that shows where a wall now no longer exists, Kristof said it reminds us that even
now Titanic is rusting away and being absorbed by the ocean. She will not always be there for us to observe
For me the climax of the evening came when famed “Titanic” director James Cameron related intimate
details of his recent history-making dive down to the Challenger Deep at 36,000 feet. Accompanying him in
the cramped pressure sphere of the deep diving research vehicle, Deepsea Challenger, was Explorers Club
Flag #161, which had previously been carried to the top of Mount Everest and which now has been to the
deepest spot on earth,
The Explorers Club decided to retire the flag to be displayed at the club’s New York headquarters, along
with other flags commemorating members’ remarkable adventures.
Cameron said he had been surprised by how many people asked him why he decided to go to the
deepest spot on earth; that night he was glad to be with a group of people who already know the answer.
Aside from the scientific aspects of his foray into the abyss, he has a real explorer’s mindset and feels
compelled to explore where he has never gone before. So deepseated is his explorers curiosity that in the
near future he will take a trip to the moon onboard a Russian modified Soyuz spacecraft — but that’s another
The fitting culmination to this centennial memorial celebration was the tolling of a ship’s bell by Cameron,
his wife actress Suzy Amis Cameron and underwater cinematographer Ralph B. White’s granddaughter Kaia
Few. The bell was tolled 10 times — once for every decade since the disaster — in memory of the 1,500
souls lost on the Titanic.
Cameron tolled the bell twice more for two of his filming friends, Mike de Gruy and Andrew Wight, who
were recently killed in a helicopter crash in Australia. Suzy Amis Cameron tolled the bell once for fellow
actress, the late Gloria Stuart who played the old Rose Dawson in the movie “Titanic.”
After the tolling of the bell for the recently deceased White by his granddaughter, the evening was capped
off by a poignant rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” by Flautist Linda White.
Truly it was a night to remember!
Emory Kristof showing his Ralph B. White Award.
Titantic dinner — a night to remember
Significant anniversary shared with famed director and pioneering photographer
By FREDRICK GARY HARELAND
Special to the News Review
Fredrick Hareland with his daughter Amber and wife Thelma.