From pleasure cruises to cargo carriers, even the calmest boat trips can end in tragedy. In the aftermath of the world’s most destructive naval catastrophes, loved ones and investigators are often left with unsatisfying answers. Following its acclaimed series AIR DISASTERS, which has uncovered shocking revelations behind aviation calamities for 11 seasons, Smithsonian Channel expands its search for the truth into the world of maritime incidents. New series DISASTERS AT SEA premieres Sunday, January 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.
When men and women lose their lives on ships at sea, what little evidence remains must be examined carefully to explain what went wrong and why. Using interviews, documentary footage and dramatic re-enactments, DISASTERS AT SEA takes viewers aboard ship to witness the human drama of such disasters, then follows the investigation to piece together the causes of some of the most significant maritime incidents of the last 50 years.
In the series premiere, TRAPPED IN TYPHOON ALLEY, the Derbyshire is en route from Canada to Japan carrying nearly 160,000 tons of iron ore when it hits Typhoon Orchid. The ship’s last radio call to shore reports they are going to wait out the storm, but it’s the last time anyone hears from the crew. When they fail to reach their destination, a massive search operation is launched but turns up no debris from the ship and no sign of any survivors. The first report suggests the crew is to blame for the shipwreck, but the families of the dead refuse to believe it and launch an intensive quest for answers. What the investigation uncovers not only clears the crew of blame, it also reveals a shocking problem that continues to put other lives at risk.
Subsequent episodes of DISASTERS AT SEA are:
Premieres Sunday, January 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
The SS Marine Electric sinks in a storm off the coast of Virginia in February 1983, only 30 miles off shore. The Coast Guard turns up a shocking cause for the disaster: Despite passing its inspections, the ship was badly maintained and not seaworthy. In the wake of the accident, inspections of other aging vessels are stepped up, and the Coast Guard also develops its now world famous Coast Guard Swimmer program, which trains rescuers to enter the water to save the lives of survivors who don’t make it onto lifeboats.
FOUR MINUTES TO SURVIVE
Premieres Sunday, January 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
In January 2004, the largest rock discharge carrier in the world, MV Rocknes, capsizes off the coast of Norway. A rescue team works overtime to save trapped sailors in the now upside-down ship. In their search for answers, investigators discover a baffling twist – the Rocknes’ last turn was executed extremely poorly by a very experienced crew.
THE ICE SHIP
Premieres Sunday, February 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
A February 2007 adventure cruise ends in disaster when MV Explorer sinks in Antarctica, stranding 144 passengers and crew in inflatable rafts to face the sub-arctic temperatures of the South Pole. With the ship at the bottom of the ocean, investigators must turn to a surprising source for evidence about what went wrong – the photos and videos taken by the passengers who survived the ordeal.
SHIPWRECKED IN ALASKA
Premieres Sunday, February 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Deadly flooding sinks the Alaska Ranger in March 2008, forcing the crew to abandon ship into the frigid waters off the coast of Alaska. Their retrieval marks the largest cold water rescue in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. Without the ship’s remains to look into, investigators have little to go on until a visit to the sister ship of The Ranger reveals a shocking secret that’s putting other lives at risk.
Premieres Sunday, February 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
When a violent crack tears the MSC Napoli apart in January 2017, the crew is left stranded in the English Channel. Rescuers’ first priority is retrieving the crew and moving the ship away from busy shipping lanes. But as the investigators dig into the cause of the wreck, they discover an alarming design flaw.
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