Titanic’s Nuclear Secrets
of “Titanic” in the title here is just a savvy marketing ploy. No, there
were no nuclear warheads hidden deep in the Titanic’s bulkhead. And no,
it wasn’t powered by a top secret nuclear reactor. Instead this National
Geographic branded doco follows renowned undersea explorer and ex-Navy
officer Robert Ballard in the period just before he discovered
Titanic in the mid-eighties.
Searching for Titanic was Ballard’s pet project. He convinced the Navy
to fund his search under the condition that he must, in secret, search
for the wrecks of lost nuclear attack submarines, the USS Scorpion and
the USS Thresher. The Thresher was lost in a deep-diving test in 1963
after an incomplete refurbishment. The reasons behind the Scorpions’
disappearance are more nebulous. Did it suffer a catastrophic hull
failure? Did a torpedo run hot (arm while still inside the ship)? Or was
it sunk by the Russians in retaliation for their lost K-129 submarine?
blurb claims it’s something “ripped from the pages of a Cold War spy
thriller,” but while the more dramatic theories about the Scorpions’
sinking are interesting (see
Hands Down: The True Story of the Soviet Attack on the USS Scorpion,
Sewell and Jerome Preisler for one version),
Ballad’s finds are more prosaic.
this is a decent, if unremarkable documentary that features
re-enactments, archival footage and interviews with Ballard and military
personnel. More interesting and less slight, is the “bonus feature”
entitled, Ghosts of the Black Sea. It is, by itself, a 50-minute
documentary about Ballad’s more recent expeditions in the Black Sea,
where he and his team found remarkably well preserved examples of
Byzantine era shipping vessels. It’s simply amazing that these wooden
ships have survived upto 1500 years in the pristine, life-devoid seabed;
there’s even the possibility that one day human remains maybe found in
these unique, oxygen-devoid waters.
Ballad, left, on board a vessel in the Black Sea
features are unremarkably presented in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby
Digital 2.0. The picture is sharp and unblemished, the stereo sound is
apart from a few trailers for other National Geographic releases: “My
“Mega Structures,” and “Britain’s Greatest Machines,” which is presented
by Red Dwarf’s Chris Barrie.