Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hail Britannic! 2.0

Shipwrecked 'Titanic 2' Could Become Divers' Paradise Theme Park
A Greek diving club owner says it is his dream to set up the commercial venture

The story is about the wreck of RMS Titanic's younger sister ship, HMHS Britannic.

Five years ago, I wrote a post about Britannic on my old blog (see after the jump). That post now has over 17,000 page views and is my second most-cited post. I like to think it's because I pointed out some similarities between Jacques Cousteau's documentary about Britannic and James Cameron's movie script for Titanic for the first time. But really, I think it was just people clicking on the gorgeous graphic which I cannot now even attribute correctly.

In any case, you can now re-watch Cousteau's original documentary here.


Hail Britannic!

It's pretty cool when you realize that the germ of something became something bigger.

I watched Calypso's Search for the Britannic, an episode from The Jacques Cousteau Odyssey. The feature dates from 1977 and tells the story of Cousteau's successful 1975 search for the sunken ship Britannic off the coast of Greece.

HMHS Britannic was built during that brief window of time between the sinking of her older sister Titanic and the First World War. She was launched without fanfare. One disgruntled ship worker said of her: "They just built her and threw her out there."

Britannic was fitted-out with all the features intended to avoid her older sister's fate: double-hulls; water-tight bulkheads which rose to B deck, and of course there were ample lifeboats. Intended to replace Titanic as a luxury trans-Atlantic liner, HMHS Britannic was instead pressed into service as a hospital ship and was sunk by a submerged mine just two years after her launch in 1914.

The remarkable thing about the old TV episode is how it foreshadowed James Cameron's Titanic. Cousteau located one of her few remaining survivors, Sheila Mitchell (then 86 years old), flew her to the Calypso hovered over the wreck, plied her memories of the sinking and then took her down in a submersible to see the wreck -- one last time -- just like fictional character Rose Dawson in Titanic. I seriously wonder whether Cameron watched or was inspired by this 1977 televised episode.

I also couldn't help but marvel at the man Cousteau himself. At age 65, he dons helium-oxygen-filled scuba tanks and freely descends to over 300 feet to explore the wreck--for 9 minutes. The hour long episode (available on Netflix) is as much a lessen on deep-sea scuba diving as it is on the Britannic. Growing up, Cousteau was a hero in our family, no doubt due to my dad's love of scuba diving which I wrote about here.

[added: a cool website on the HMHS Britannic: link]


chickelit said...

Britannic went down nose first so fast that her still-spinning propeller blades chopped survivors to pieces.

edutcher said...

That's why the Navy tells people get off fast and get as far away as possible.

PS I remember the instance of a Diversity Hire at Annapolis who stuck at the rail. Anyone else would have been washed out. There were a lot of old salts from both World Wars who remembered Chiefs standing by the rail in such instances with a .45, ready to shoot anybody who did that.

PPS IIRC many of the people killed by the blades were incapable of getting out of the way, being already incapacitated.

Trooper York said...

Great post Chickie.

Trooper York said...

On the stupid reality show "Below Deck" they recently had a situation where these two drunk tourists fell off a banana boat towing them and the idiot behind the wheel of the main boat almost ran them over.

Boats are very dangerous. Especailly small boats. I used to be on the water every weekend in the summer int the 1960's and 1970's and we saw a bunch of accidents. People are just so over confident about running a boat. Tragedies waiting to happen.

William said...

I have an idea for tv series, kind of a cross between Titanic and Love Boat. I'd call the series Lusitania. Every week a different couple of star crossed lovers would meet and fall in love. Then the boat gets torpedoed. Sometimes, they survive and sometimes they drown. Sometimes one, sometime both. Lots of dramatic possibilities and career opportunities for beloved, aging stars. Who wouldn't want to see Madonna turning blue in the icy waters of the North Atlantic?