He was the Project Manager and chief forensic analyst in the team of Naval Architects who investigated and analysed the Titanic wreckage. The results of the findings were featured in a National Geographic special, while he co-authored and illustrated the book, "Exploring The Deep: The Titanic Expeditions" with James Cameron.
Graduating in Naval Science from the United States Naval Academy, Parks has had a dynamic multidisciplinary career all along. Currently, he works as the Systems Engineering Manager at Moog Inc.
In this interview with Learn Ship Design, we get a glimpse of the challenges faced in the expedition and similar marine forensic projects and the secret behind his success in multidisciplinary efforts.
It You were an integral part of the research outcome of Titanic’s so called Achilles Heel. In reference to that, how would you describe the structural problems Titanic had ?
I don’t find that the Olympic-class ships had any significant structural weaknesses. When I first started studying Titanic, the fact that she broke apart during the sinking seemed to suggest that there might have been some sort of structural weakness somewhere. But after years of study of both the Titanic and Britannic wreck sites, where we could, for the first time, look at the wrecks from an architectural perspective, we increasingly found evidence that the design of that class of ship was actually quite robust. Britannic’s structure has not noticeably sagged despite her lying on her side (where the loads are different than the structure was originally designed to support) and the fact that Titanic’s mid section broke into large chunks (with decks still supported by large uptakes) demonstrate that the H&W engineers took measures to mitigate potential problems in their up-scaling of previous designs. Added to this was Olympic’s maintenance record until her end of life…she required no more, and maybe even less, re-work to her structure than her peers in order to keep her in service.