New National Geographic Special on PBS
Premiering Wednesday, March 30, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings)
WASHINGTON (Feb. 28, 2005)–On May 2, 1982, during the Falklands/Malvinas War, two torpedoes fired from the British nuclear submarine H.M.S. Conqueror struck the Argentine warship A.R.A. General Belgrano, killing hundreds instantly, sinking the cruiser and plunging its remaining crew into the icy seas of the South Atlantic. An epic struggle for survival followed as shell-shocked sailors fought battle wounds, hypothermia and stormy seas to stay alive. National Geographic revisits the attack, and the excruciating hours and days that followed, for an in-depth examination of the power of human survival over the horrors of war in “The Sinking of the Warship Belgrano,” premiering Wednesday, March 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on PBS (check local listings).
This new National Geographic Special offers fresh insights into one of the only major maritime battles of the past 25 years. Through rare interviews and personal reflections from those most closely involved in the conflict, including Admiral Sandy Woodward, commander of the British Task Force at the time of the war, and Capt. Hector Bonzo, the last commander of the Belgrano, “The Sinking of the Warship Belgrano” reveals surprising points-of-view. Dramatic reenactments and powerful archival footage from the conflict re-create the events of the war and recount the amazing days and hours surrounding the Belgrano’s final voyage.
Viewers will see the day-by-day cat-and-mouse maneuvers employed by the Conqueror to shadow and, ultimately, attack the Belgrano. “The submarine was watching me, and I didn’t even know it,” Captain Bonzo said.
National Geographic then joins veteran undersea explorer Curt Newport and his team of experts as they scour the wild and treacherous seas off the tip of Cape Horn for the remains of the Belgrano. Facing some of the same treacherous conditions encountered by the Belgrano’s original crew, Newport and his expedition team soon experience the raw, unadulterated power of the South Atlantic.
The National Geographic film crew joined Newport in February 2003 aboard the research vessel Seacor Lenga. For 10 days the expedition combed the waters of the South Atlantic, known to be some of the most difficult to navigate in the world, enduring gigantic waves, punishing winds, seasickness and more.
Newport is joined on the expedition by several distinguished guests: retired Capt. Pedro Galazi, who was second-in-command aboard the Belgrano; Capt. Carlos Castro Madero, another Argentine survivor of the ship; and Martyn Brown and Kevin Nicholls, British veterans who were on board the Conqueror, in the sonar and torpedo rooms respectively. Viewers will witness the first time since that fateful day in 1982 that sailors from both the Belgrano and the Conqueror have ventured together to the scene of the attack.
Britain and Argentina became embroiled in a bitter territorial dispute over the Falkland Islands, known to the Argentines as the Islas Malvinas, on April 2, 1982, when Argentine troops invaded and occupied the British-controlled islands. Britain responded swiftly, sending a fleet of ships 8000 miles to the South Atlantic to reclaim the islands. On May 2 the British submarine Conqueror torpedoed the Belgrano, sinking the warship. The surviving crew scrambled into life rafts, where they faced extreme ocean swells, strong gusting winds and frigid sea temperatures. In the two days after the attack, rescue ships saved more than 700 men in what has been described as one of the most difficult rescue operations in naval history. Despite a heroic effort, a number of survivors later died of exposure or injuries, bringing the total loss of life to 323 out of the 1,093 on board.
The incident proved to be a turning point in the brief, but intensely waged conflict. Never again did the Argentine fleet venture out to challenge the British Navy. Eventually, the British overwhelmed the Argentine forces, and the 74-day war ended with Argentina’s surrender of the Falklands on June 14, 1982.
“The Sinking of the Warship Belgrano” is produced Amy Doyle. Patrick Prentice is writer and director. John Bredar serves as executive producer.
National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F) is a wholly owned subsidiary of National Geographic Ventures, which also manages National Geographic’s businesses in interactive, online, merchandising, travel expeditions and related businesses. Building on its global reputation for remarkable visuals and compelling stories, NGT&F augments its award-winning documentary productions (124 Emmy Awards and more than 900 other industry awards) with feature films, large-format films and long-form television drama programming. Worldwide, National Geographic’s television programming can be seen on the National Geographic Channel, PBS, home video and DVD, and through international broadcast syndication. The National Geographic Channel is received by more than 230 million households in 27 languages in 151 countries, including the United States. For more information about National Geographic Television & Film, log on to nationalgeographic.com, AOL Keyword: NatGeo.
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