It was a British ship, sunk by a German submarine, in Irish waters. More than 95 years later, the death toll of the great passenger liner, RMS Lusitania, still staggers—1,198 men, women, children … all civilians, all innocent.  And even though fewer than 10% of the victims were U.S. citizens, this was a seminal moment for the United States, as crucial to the country’s historical destiny as Pearl Harbor and 9/11. It can be convincingly argued that the sinking of the Lusitania ultimately brought it into World War One and put the United States on the path to superpower status.

Yet, for all its importance, the fate of the Lusitania remains mired in controversy. Now, an American businessman named Gregg Bemis is launching a new expedition to explore the ship’s wreckage. His goal—to answer some of the questions that have sparked decades of intense debate and controversy. What was the cause of a massive second explosion that rocked the Lusitania, seconds after the torpedo hit? Was the ship carrying a secret cache of war munitions, making it a legitimate target? Or had Germany committed an unprecedented act of mass terrorism?

Answering these questions will be an massive undertaking, requiring the latest in undersea technology. The wreckage lies in 300 feet of water, a depth that tests the limits of even the most skilled technical divers. Thus, the exploration will depend on a two-man submersible and a one atmospheric deep water diving rig known as a Newt Suit. Using a high-pressure water jet technique, the expedition team plans to gain entry to the ship’s hull, by cutting a 2‘ x 2‘ hole in the outer skin of the vessel. The use of pole cameras and a small, camera-equipped ROV (Remote Operated Vehicles) known as the Video Ray will allow for an unprecedented exploration of the interior of the Lusitania, an area that has not been accessed since the day the ship went down.

In an effort to understand (and perhaps even explain) the source of the second explosion, scientists from the Energetic Materials Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have agreed to assist in the investigation. They have created both practical demonstrations and computer simulations to illustrate the 4 primary theories regarding the mysterious blast—an illicit shipment of gun cotton (a material used in World War I munitions), an accidental ignition of coal dust or aluminum powder and a boiler/steamline rupture.

Along with the dive expedition footage and the explosive tests, this special presentation utilizes a wealth of archival footage, stills, blueprints and posters of the Lusitania in its heyday when it was known as the “Greyhound of the Seas“. In addition, state of the art 3-D graphics bring the ship alive, helping the audience understand the how’s and why’s of its sinking. The end result is a remarkable expedition into the depths of the Irish Sea, and through the shadows of history … an amazing journey that may finally reveal the Dark Secrets of the Lusitania. 

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Don’t miss Dark Secrets of the Lusitania tonight, August 31st, at 9P et/pt.

Comments

  1. Curtiss Pool
    September 1, 2012, 9:30 pm

    I was hoping this show might be a little different than the previous shows I have seen on exploring underwater wrecks but, lo and behold, another expedition from the Keystone Cops, millions of dollars worth of equipment and they cant get the job done!

    This exploration was predictable from the start; the absolute minimum time required to get the job done; the most modern, most expensive up to date equipment, always failing; bad weather conditions always coming up, and ALWAYS on a critical dive; very little footage of the actual wreck, but a whole lot of footage of prepping the subs, prepping the divers, showing things going wrong from the start, showing the frustration of the crews, etc, etc, etc.

    The only saving grace to this “documentary” were the experiments shown at the end of the show to see what possibly could have sunk the Lusitania. But again, no conclusions drawn and nothing proven, how predictable!

    In the end, the only conclusion drawn; A complete lack of evidence to prove anything you’ve just spent two hours trying to prove.

    You really need to start coming up with some original stories for these underwater explorations, otherwise they are all predictable from the start, nothing gained, nothing proven.

    I only have myself to blame for watching these types of shows though, if anything had been proven it would have appeared in the news long before this documentary would have been finished.

    What a waste of time!

  2. Charles Tryer
    Birmingham AL
    September 8, 2012, 3:23 pm

    It was my great misfortune to see only the last minute of this.
    When will it show again? “Last Voyage of the Lusitania” (Robert Ballard) was stunning–absolutely fascinating.

  3. Eric
    November 5, 2012, 6:28 am

    I also agree that this was another expediton of 40% fluff, 50% useless bs, and 10% new/interesting factual data.

    The 10% was the tests to see some plausable theories.

    However even in this there was some bias again.
    The test of gun cotton showed the most promice (and evidence against the british government official story) but was found lacking by the “experts” due to some reports of passengers on “sounds” indicating a boiler rupture.

    Which is laughable given that their own tests showed that the boiler theory was deemed impossible.

    If you are going to fill the “mechanical and weather problems” that always seem to be “unforseen” (sorry IMO complete and utter B S) why did you not dove into known abet unpleasent (to the british) facts.

    Example they denied for decades they were even carrying “legal” ammuntion and “unfused” shells.

    Or that germany warned they would sink vessels carrying any munitions or war material?

    Or the continued unchallenged fact that around the 50-60’s the british navy dropped close to 100 depth charges (explosives) on the wreck.

    Please Natgo you normally have some great shows but this is more liking to some of the “reality documentaries” on your rival stations. Which mostly are wastes of valuable viewing time/dvr space.

    Lastly can you do a show on why lately most (but not all) sea expeditions lately claim months of planning, use “latest technology”, use the best personal but seem to be executed on site by moe, larry and curly?

  4. Anynonymous user
    Fort Smith, AR
    December 14, 2012, 1:39 pm

    We studied this in my social studies class and my individual teacher revealed more information than the video…you guys are professionals! Leave an observer hanging. Was the attack due to the transportation of secret ammunition or an unprecedented act of mass terrorism committed by Germany? I’m 13 and I know the fundamentals of a good show!