Through series like Deadliest Catch and Wicked Tuna, I’ve learned the world’s oceans are definitely not the safest places to work. Heck, the Great Lakes aren’t either, as the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald details. And yet, they serve as an integral lifeline when it comes to getting products around the world.
Discovery’s latest in-house production—Disasters at Sea, on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT—documents nautical accidents and tragedies and tells the stories, including the safety measures implemented to ensure those things don’t happen again.
“We love looking into real jobs and the expertise and mastery behind them,” executive producer Kelly McKeown says. “With our knowledge of Mighty Ships and Mighty Cruise Ships, understanding the world at sea and the skillset you need for the world at sea—and the vessels are like characters themselves—we found that fascinating and we wanted to dig into that world.”
Each of the six hour-hour episodes tells the tale of a maritime disaster through re-enactments and expert testimony from investigators, witnesses, survivors and family members of those lost. McKeown says the stories selected were recent ones, giving the producers the opportunity to speak to those closest to each case and have their voices heard.
The statistics are sobering: three ships go down around the world every month. McKeown wanted to shine a light on the lesser-known incidents for Disasters at Sea and used documents from such organizations as the National Transportation and Safety Board, Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Coast Guard to ensure everything was factually correct. That includes appearances from experts like Christopher Hearn. The Director of the Centre for Marine Simulation at the Marine Institute at Memorial University in Newfoundland is just one of many who describe what happened to these ships and their crews and, perhaps more importantly, why.
“I help them understand what the content the investigations mean and how ships are operated and what goes on onboard,” Hearn says. “From an experiential point of view, I can help craft the story they’re trying to represent. It’s very important that the stories are done right and from a factual perspective.”
Episode 2, broadcast this Tuesday, delves into the loss of the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger, which sank on the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008.
“Sometimes it’s the littlest thing,” McKeown says of the Alaska Ranger situation. “It’s not one big thing that happens, it’s a chain of errors that occurs. It’s a domino of events that affects the final toll.”
Disasters at Sea airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Discovery.
Image courtesy of Bell Media.