Disasters at Sea (2018) s01e04 Episode Script

The Ice Ship

NARRATOR: A mysterious leak on a cruise ship MAN: I saw how quickly my cabin was filling up.
NARRATOR: Leaves passengers and crew CAPTAIN: Damn it! NARRATOR: Scrambling to survive in Antarctica.
MAN: Things have gone from really bad to really worse.
CAPTAIN: I need that power back on now! NARRATOR: It's a race against time.
MAN: You're helpless at that point.
CAPTAIN: Abandon ship, abandon ship.
WOMAN: We assumed that the ship was about to flip over.
MA: I did think I was gonna die.
NARRATOR: And 154 people are at the mercy of a deadly sea.
WOMAN: My feeling was very much this, this is it, we can go together.
MAN: The passengers had less than two hours to live.
MAN: Abandon ship! WOMAN: Ah! MAN: Go! [RADIO CHATTER] NARRATOR: It's early evening near the bottom of the world.
The passenger ship MV explorer is 11 days into an 18-day trip.
But this is no luxury voyage.
The 240-foot vessel is on an adventure cruise heading for the continent of Antarctica.
91 tourists on the Liberian-flagged explorer have paid up to 16,000 U.
dollars A small price perhaps for what promises to be the adventure of a lifetime.
Eli Charne has come from California.
ELI CHARNE: I had wanted to go to Antarctica for years, but I didn't know that it was something that it was possible for regular people to do.
I thought just, like, scientists could do that.
NARRATOR: Doreen Horwood Hails from Kent in England.
DOREEN HORWOOD: The explorer was a really lovely ship.
She was small and comfortable, and as soon as you got on the ship you felt completely at home, and it was just the most amazing ship I've ever been on.
NARRATOR: The MV explorer was built for polar sightseeing.
It's an ice-class vessel outfitted with a double bottom to provide extra protection against floating ice that might puncture the hull.
It allows the explorer to venture where few cruise ships can go.
HORWOOD: Because explorer was so close to the water, you felt so much a part of the earth around you, really.
And you just look and you're just, wow, well, that is just the most amazing thing I've ever seen.
And this is why I've come.
NARRATOR: But for the crew, sailing here is risky business.
Weather conditions can change quickly, bringing storms and rough seas.
Vast ice fields can close in around the ship and force it to a standstill, or worse, tear through the hull.
Chris Hearn is a master mariner and an expert in ice navigation.
CHRIS HEARN: The other thing about the antarctic, of course, is that it's not only the ice, it's the remoteness of the location.
The inability to access search and rescue or response resources.
Because if you do run into trouble, you are on your own until somebody gets to help you, and that may be quite some time.
NARRATOR: To avoid disaster, the bridge team must be constantly on the lookout, ready to respond to a sudden emergency.
BENGT WIMAN: How's it looking this evening? HELMSMAN: So far, so good, sir.
NARRATOR: Captain bengt wiman is the master on this trip.
He has more than 25 years' experience sailing the icy waters of the Baltic sea, off the coast of Sweden.
WIMAN: Never get tired of that sight.
NARRATOR: Peter Svensson was the chief officer and second in command.
PETER SVENSSON: Explorer, she always went to the places where none other cruise ships went to.
And that's why I actually wanted to go into this kind of business because you, you see things and learn a lot.
NARRATOR: This time, the expedition is tracing the route sailed by early 20th century explorer Ernest Shackleton.
His ship, the endurance, became trapped, forcing his expedition to survive on antarctic ice for nearly 15 months, when they were finally able to find open water and escape in lifeboats.
The voyage began in Argentina, with stops at the Falklands and South Georgia island.
But for many, tomorrow promises to be the highlight of the trip A landing on the antarctic peninsula itself.
For Georgie Hale and her husband Clive, the trip is bittersweet.
HALE: My husband was diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer.
And we made a very conscious decision at that point that we were going to use every minute we'd got and pack it full of as many things as we could.
The antarctic peninsula was our goal.
NARRATOR: To get there, the crew must run a gauntlet of icy waters.
SVENSSON: Here's the latest ice reports.
NARRATOR: Detailed ice reports and radar help the bridge crew avoid areas too frozen for navigation, while still charting a course that gives passengers a good show.
HEARN: You want to know how much more ice is there, is there more ice just over the horizon? I'm seeing what's in front of me.
You're always watching out, your radars are on, the officers on the bridge are watching out continuously, there's a lookout watching out, because sometimes you can't see what's in the water, it's totally dark.
NARRATOR: The Captain has a problem.
WIMAN: I don't think we'll get them all the way to the antarctic peninsula.
Not with this ice.
NARRATOR: It's disappointing, but Captain wiman comes up with a promising alternative.
WIMAN: It looks like penguin island will work.
SVENSSON: That's not a bad option at all.
There's a lot to see there, sir.
WIMAN: Better tell the passengers.
NARRATOR: Penguin island is a good plan B.
It's close to the antarctic peninsula, and has plenty of wildlife.
[LAUGHTER] WOMAN: Thanks! Here's to you, you, and you.
WIMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, a bit of an update for you guys.
CHARNE: The Captain gave us a briefing that evening, and we were gonna be going through heavy sea ice, and so he was just giving us a warning about that.
WIMAN: So you should expect some noise.
Nothing to worry about.
I recommend earplugs.
That's it.
Thank you, everyone.
HORWOOD: Noise? Ha ha! Maybe it will drown out my husband! [LAUGHTER] NARRATOR: Later that evening, passenger Doreen Horwood pays a visit to the bridge.
HORWOOD: Hi there.
Am I okay in here? HELMSMAN: Good evening, come on in.
I've got a spot for you right here.
HORWOOD: Thanks.
HELMSMAN: Steady on this course.
NARRATOR: She's taking advantage of the explorer's open-bridge policy.
HEARN: For the passenger, it's very exciting, because they got to feel a little bit more involved in the operation and see what's going on.
What are the crew involved in? What are the officers doing? You know, how are they making a decision? NARRATOR: As Doreen looks on, the ship begins encountering more and more ice.
HELMSMAN: I think we need the searchlights now.
We're coming into an ice field.
Reducing speed.
[CLICK] I'm going to call the Captain.
NARRATOR: The crew has strict instructions to call the Captain if they enter an ice field.
HELMSMAN: Captain, we're coming into some ice.
Would you like to come up now? SVENSSON: We try to avoid ice as much as possible.
But you can't avoid all of it.
Mostly Captain was driving, he had the most experience with it.
WIMAN: Alright, I have the con.
HELMSMAN: You have the con, Captain.
WIMAN: It looks like we're heading into some first-year ice.
NARRATOR: First-year ice has had up to a year to thicken and harden.
The ship can handle it.
It's what the Captain can't see that concerns him.
HEARN: Your main concern about the type of ice you might encounter.
The dangerous, small pieces of really hard glacial ice, that compacted ice that's like concrete.
You might be stuck in amongst some glacial ice that's hidden.
WIMAN: Bring her five degrees to port, please.
HEARN: You pick an area where the ice seems to be the loosest.
And this is where you will maneuver in slowly.
WIMAN: Keep her steady on this course for now.
NARRATOR: They'll have to cross nine miles of ice to reach open water again.
While her husband rests below, passenger Georgie Hale watches their progress from the deck.
GEORGIE HALE: My god, this captain's earning his money tonight.
I'd got my video camera, because I was filming this incredible creaking and groaning sound as the ice opens.
It was absolutely marvelous.
I've panned the camera behind me, and you could see solid ice.
It was almost impossible to believe that you'd come through it.
NARRATOR: As they plow through the ice field, the noise in the lower decks is deafening.
CHARNE: I wanted to do what I could to get some sleep.
So for the first time on the trip, I put on some earplugs to try to make sure I'd be ready for the next day.
NARRATOR: On the bridge, Doreen watches the Captain make his way through the ice.
HORWOOD: As I was standing back, just taking some photographs, it was making quite a lot of noise, there was quite a lot of scraping.
NARRATOR: Progress is slow.
HEARN: You want to just slowly alter course, let the vessel work with the ice.
NARRATOR: Two hours later, they're finally approaching open water.
WIMAN: We're nearly through.
Try to keep steady.
[CREAKING] HALE: You could see the black of clear water.
And I very much had the impression that the Captain was thinking, right, let's bang our way through this last bit of ice and then we're into clear water.
It's absolutely incredible, the way he's done it, yeah, he's really going for it, this guy.
NARRATOR: Below in his cabin, Eli Charne can't sleep.
CHARNE: You'd get this, this scraping, knocking as the ice ran along the side of the ship, and you could actually feel the vibrations as it went scraping, bumping along.
[SCRAPING] NARRATOR: Then something odd happens.
CHARNE: My fingers were in this little gap between the head of the bed and, and the wall of the cabin, and the wall of the cabin flexed, and it started pinching my fingers, and it started to hurt.
And I go to turn on my reading light, which was right there at the head of my cabin, and I touch it, and it's wet.
And I put my hand against the wall, and there's water coursing down the wall, running over my fingers, ice-cold water.
NARRATOR: Eli leaps out of bed into a frigid pool of water.
CHARNE: Turn on the light, turn on the light! NARRATOR: The cabin floor is flooded and the water is rising.
CHARNE: What do we do? NARRATOR: On the MV explorer, passenger Eli Charne's cabin is filling with freezing water.
CHARNE: So at the moment I'm thinking, what do we need to do? When we first got on the ship, they had a briefing where they talked about lifeboats, and they warned us that there was an emergency button in the room and to make sure not to press it by accident.
I'm thinking, oh, now's the time to use the emergency button.
So I reach over and I start pushing it.
[DING] NARRATOR: Above, the bridge crew spots the alarm.
HELMSMAN: We've got a passenger alarm, Captain.
[DING] WIMAN: Yeah, someone probably hit it by accident again.
This is the Captain.
Please go to the 300 level, see what's setting off that alarm.
[DING] NARRATOR: Arriving below, the crewmen discover they've got a full-blown emergency on their hands.
CHARNE: Uh, I think the water's coming in from behind that wall.
SEAMAN: Captain! CHARNE: It was filling up very quickly, and I was freezing, I was shivering, and I had to get out of there.
You know, there wasn't time to think about being scared.
SEAMAN: Captain.
WIMAN: Go ahead.
SEAMAN: There's a lot of water in here, sir.
WIMAN: Taste it.
SEAMAN: Sir? WIMAN: Tell me if it's salt water.
HEARN: If it's freshwater, okay, maybe we knocked a pipe loose.
That's okay, we can deal with that.
It's an inconvenience.
But if you can taste salt water on the inside of your ship, you've got a hole.
SEAMAN: Yeah, yeah, it's salt water, sir.
WIMAN: Copy.
Damage control team to deck 3.
This is not a drill.
All passengers please assemble in the penguin lounge in warm clothing and life jackets.
HALE: At the time that the announcement went out, there was no indication of what had gone wrong at all.
We just headed for the muster station.
Everybody was there quite quickly.
And it wasn't until we got there and met up with one of the passengers who had raised the alarm that we knew what was happening.
HORWOOD: What happened? You're wet! CHARNE: Well, my entire cabin is flooded.
The ship could be sinking.
HORWOOD: What? CLIVE HALE: Flooded? What do you mean flooded? CHARNE: When I saw how quickly my cabin was filling up and how quickly it was overtaking that deck of the ship, I was sure the ship was going to sink.
NARRATOR: Chief officer Peter Svensson is sent to help deal with the crisis below.
SEAMAN: We got a real problem here.
The water's coming in really fast.
We checked the bottom seals.
I don't know if it's coming from SVENSSON: Quiet for a second.
I'm trying to hear where it's coming from.
HEARN: If you've got water on your ship, it's very serious.
You want to know where it's coming from and how soon can you stop it.
SEAMAN: Have you got it? SVENSSON: It's behind the paneling somewhere.
We're gonna have to open it up.
We got to get these pumps going first.
SEAMAN: Okay, okay.
SVENSSON: Let's move.
I think the water at that time was just above my knee.
That's alarming, and I promise you it was cold water, because I think the water temp was minus 1.
5 degrees at that moment.
NARRATOR: Three decks above in the lounge, most of the passengers have no idea how serious the problem is.
NARRATOR: In Eli's cabin, Svensson and the crew are desperately hunting for the source of the leak.
SVENSSON: You need to use some real force to get through that wall.
I need that axe.
Okay, stand back.
We had to use axes and anything we can get that's hard to get this wall off, to see where, if we can find where the leakage is coming from.
HEARN: They're tearing out paneling, they're tearing out bunks, and all the while, cold antarctic salt water is coming into the cabin.
SVENSSON: We had one guy actually sticking in his hand to feel, to see, and he actually found the hole.
Get enough insulation out.
You feel it? SEAMAN: Yeah, I think I got it.
It's about the size of my fist.
NARRATOR: There's no time to lose.
They need to plug the hole any way they can.
SVENSSON: Stuff it in.
HEARN: So what they do then is they manage to jam pillows down into the space and then use a tensioning bar to push the plywood against the hole.
SVENSSON: It's like trying to, uh, yeah, put the pressure to a wound to stop the bleed, so this is the same thing here.
NARRATOR: It's a makeshift solution.
But it allows the pumps to do their work.
The water level begins to drop.
SVENSSON: So we were working at this, we were winning the battle.
Okay, we're in the clear.
We will sort this out.
WIMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention? NARRATOR: The Captain briefs the passengers on the situation.
WIMAN: We are taking on water.
HALE: How much water? WIMAN: But, but we are using our pumps to deal with it.
We will update you again later.
Thank you.
MAN: Open the bar! HORWOOD: Okay.
Open the [LAUGHS] Maybe we need a drink.
HALE: He explained to us that they had pumped the water out, the water level was going down.
There was no sense of panic.
The more enterprising amongst us were trying to get them to open the bar.
We didn't get very far with that one.
NARRATOR: But things aboard the explorer aren't nearly as good as they seem.
The ship has started listing to starboard.
Peter Svensson's instincts tell him something is still very wrong.
SVENSSON: This amount of water from that small little hole is a little bit much.
So, I just started thinking that it may be some other holes somewhere else.
Damn it.
NARRATOR: A quick check confirms Svensson's worst fears Three more cabins are flooding.
SVENSSON: I need to talk to the Captain now! HEARN: So water is now rising.
They've got every pump that they have on board trying to pump water out of that space.
They can't seem to keep ahead of it.
And this is a critical point.
SVENSSON: The water's coming in faster than we can pump it out.
There's nothing that we can do.
[ALARM RINGING] There's nothing that we can do.
Things have gone from really bad to, to really worse.
NARRATOR: Aboard the cruise ship MV explorer, icy seawater is gushing in through a hole in the hull, and the ship is listing dangerously to starboard.
SVENSSON: The water is coming in faster than we can pump it out.
There's nothing that we can do.
WIMAN: Understood.
NARRATOR: The Captain knows if the list gets much worse, it will just be a matter of time before they capsize and sink into the freezing antarctic ocean.
Out of options, he makes one of the toughest calls a Captain can make.
[ALARM BEEPING] WIMAN: Abandon ship, abandon ship, abandon ship.
All passengers report to your assigned lifeboat stations.
CHARNE: What?! HALE: What?! WIMAN: Abandon ship! Abandon ship! HALE: Abandon ship, abandon ship, abandon ship.
That was a heart-stopping moment.
HORWOOD: Things were really becoming chaotic by this time, and people realized this ship was really going down, and we needed to be off the ship.
NARRATOR: Then it gets worse.
WIMAN: Damn it! Zero the throttle.
HELMSMAN: Zero throttle.
NARRATOR: The explorer has lost power, and it's drifting back into the ice field.
Without the engine, the ship can't maneuver to a safe area to lower the lifeboats.
HEARN: You can't lower a lifeboat into ice, you will beat up the lifeboat and you can endanger the people in the lifeboat itself.
The pack ice could crush the boats.
NARRATOR: The power went out when the seawater flooded in.
It drained into the engine room a deck below, and shorted out the pump that sends fuel to the generator.
Chief engineer Jerzy Pawlowski, who's been with the ship for eight years, scrambles to come up with a fix.
JERZY PAWLOWSKI: I need that hose.
HEARN: So, when you lose power, your ship is black, there's no light, there's no means to do anything.
So you're helpless at that point.
NARRATOR: It's a life-and-death race against time in the dark.
WIMAN: Engine room, I need that power back on now! PAWLOWSKI: Yeah, I'm working on it.
Come on! NARRATOR: Pawlowski comes up with an ingenious solution.
He Jerry-rigs a manual fuel pump that bypasses the broken one.
HEARN: He's rigged up a siphon.
It was a very clever way of making sure fuel was continuously going to the generators.
In fact, it was a critical thing.
[ENGINE WHIRRING] NARRATOR: It works! WIMAN: Yes! Great work, chief.
NARRATOR: The Captain can now maneuver the ship to a safe location to lower the lifeboats.
WIMAN: Full power ahead.
HELMSMAN: Full power ahead.
WIMAN: Okay, we're getting through it.
Zero the throttle.
HELMSMAN: Zero throttle.
WIMAN: Let's get everyone into the lifeboats now.
NARRATOR: With a distress signal transmitting, the Captain leaves the bridge, and all 154 passengers and crew abandon ship.
MAN: Don't push.
Don't CHARNE: People are rushing, streaming out the back, they're streaming out the doors.
HALE: We hadn't been told why we were abandoning ship.
We assumed that the ship was about to flip over, we were still attached to the side of it, and that was very scary.
NARRATOR: The lifeboats release.
They are now stranded 25 miles from land, being tossed and sprayed by frigid antarctic waters.
Rescue, if it comes at all, is many hours away.
HALE: My feeling was very much this, this is it, we can go together.
My husband, on the other hand, who had been given 12 months to live some six years before wasn't having any of that.
He knew perfectly well what was going on in my head.
Every time I tried to put my head on the life-jacket and go to sleep, which is what I wanted to do, he woke me up, he stood in front of me, he protected me from the elements, and he generally was absolutely convinced that we were going to survive.
NARRATOR: Georgie Hale captures video of the ordeal.
HALE: It's very, very difficult to describe.
You lose all sense of place and time.
If anybody had told me we'd been in the lifeboats for 12 hours, I'd have believed them; If they told me we'd been in the lifeboats for an hour, I probably would have believed that.
It was very cold, we were tired, we were wet.
Um, certainly quite a lot of us were seasick.
CHARNE: Water's swamping onto the boat, we're getting sea spray on us.
It rains a little bit while we're out there.
It was freezing cold.
I did think I was gonna die.
HORWOOD: But then, just as you were sort of really sort of getting to the point of nobody's ever gonna come, on the horizon there was a light, which of course everybody said, "ah! There's a light on the horizon!" SVENSSON: It was such a good feeling.
Then I knew they are not far away.
I knew, because they were on the horizon, it would still take two, three hours, but I know they're close.
NARRATOR: It's the Nordnorge, the first of two vessels to respond to the explorer's distress call.
After five terrifying hours adrift in lifeboats, everyone is taken safely aboard.
Just hours later, a fierce antarctic storm breaks over the area.
FORD: The passengers had less than two hours to live.
In my estimation, it is very likely if that Nordnorge had been delayed, it would have been certain death for all of them.
HORWOOD: Once you were safe, that's when you realized how close to death you were.
NARRATOR: On November 23, 2007, 15 hours after Eli Charne first raised the alarm, the explorer disappears into the Southern ocean.
The question now is why? INVESTIGATOR: Here's the info I got from the ship's owners.
FORD: Thanks.
NARRATOR: Bob Ford is a former national transportation safety board investigator working for the Liberian ship registry.
Since the explorer was a Liberian vessel, it will be up to him to solve the case.
He knows he's facing a big challenge.
FORD: All I know is it's a smaller passenger ship that's on, involved with going to Antarctica, going into ice fields.
It had hit an iceberg or an ice field and was flooding.
That's all I knew at 6:00 in the morning.
NARRATOR: The explorer is an ice-class vessel that has traveled safely through polar waters more than 200 times.
What could have gone wrong? FORD: When investigations kick off, and this one was no different, I don't, I don't assume anything.
I don't accept any facts that I hear, I don't accept anything.
I just say, "let's wait and see what happens.
" NARRATOR: Ford's top priority is to talk to the crew, especially the Captain.
FORD: Captain, tell me everything you could remember about the night of the accident.
WIMAN: We were going through ice, nice and easy, nothing out of the ordinary.
Bring her five degrees to port, please.
NARRATOR: The Captain tells Ford he was making his way through a field of first-year ice, and there was no sign of trouble.
HEARN: Year-old ice is still ice, and it's still to be treated with, respectfully, and it can be a hazard to the ship.
You can damage your propellers, damage your rudders, get caught in it.
But a ship designed to operate in ice and ice-strengthened can handle first-year ice, you can maneuver your way through.
WIMAN: I don't understand it.
It makes no sense.
The ship's built for this kind of stuff.
NARRATOR: He doesn't know what set off the disastrous flooding that forced them to abandon ship.
FORD: He just said he was very surprised by it, just, I don't even believe it, I don't understand why this happened, I don't understand how this could happen.
This ship is designed to go in ice, and the ice wasn't that thick.
The question is, what happened from the time they entered the ice field until the time the flooding was reported? That's the question.
NARRATOR: There's another mystery.
Why couldn't a fist-sized hole be repaired to save the ship? HEARN: A fist-sized hole, you know, it's a hole, it's something water's gonna come through, but again, that in and of itself does not mean we've lost the ship.
WIMAN: Let's get everyone into the lifeboats now! NARRATOR: Ford won't have much to go on.
In their haste to evacuate, the crew left the voyage data recorder behind.
FORD: The voyage data recorder, commonly more referred to as the VDR, will record the speed of the vessel, it will record rudder commands.
And to me, the critical aspect of it would be the audio recordings in the wheelhouse.
NARRATOR: Without it, Ford will need to rely on eyewitness accounts.
FORD: I'm gonna want to talk to as many passengers as possible.
FORD: The accident investigations are like Jigsaw puzzles, you got to get the pieces.
And the passengers were critical pieces to this investigation.
[CLICK] NARRATOR: Investigator Bob Ford has little hard evidence to discover why the MV explorer sank.
But he does have something few investigations ever have: Dozens of photos taken by passengers as events unfolded.
INVESTIGATOR: Bob, take a look at these.
FORD: Wow.
INVESTIGATOR: [LAUGHS] Timestamped, no less.
NARRATOR: Some are stamped with the exact time they were taken, allowing Ford to begin adding crucial details to his timeline of the disaster.
FORD: So, just after midnight, evidence when the flooding is reported, they're deep in the ice fields.
When Doreen told me she had photos, I was like, wow, this is just too good to be true.
HORWOOD: Am I okay in here? HELMSMAN: Come on in.
I've got a spot for you right here.
HORWOOD: Thanks.
NARRATOR: To Ford's excitement, Doreen Horwood not only took a lot of pictures, she was actually on the bridge when the disaster began.
He hopes she'll be able to shed some light on what went wrong.
FORD: Just tell me what happened.
HORWOOD: Well, I was up on the bridge, taking some photos.
WIMAN: Keep her steady on this course for now.
NARRATOR: Doreen tells Ford she was enjoying herself at first.
But as the ship moved deeper into the ice field, she grew more and more uneasy.
WIMAN: Steady her up.
SEAMAN: Steady as she goes, sir.
WIMAN: Looking good.
HORWOOD: We were going faster, and the ice seemed thicker.
I think it was just a natural question Mark over your head, you know, this didn't quite feel right.
NARRATOR: Then the ship came to a sudden stop.
HALE: Wow! [GASPS] FORD: Doreen said it came to a hard stop, it almost knocked her down.
The vessel came to a full stop? HORWOOD: I almost fell.
HELMSMAN: How do you want to proceed, Captain? NARRATOR: Like a human data recorder, Doreen recalls the sequence of events in uncanny detail.
FORD: Full stop.
NARRATOR: She even tells Ford what the Captain did to get the ship moving again.
HORWOOD: He was looking through his binoculars, and he was talking about how you maneuver through ice to one person.
WIMAN: Okay, we're gonna take another run at it.
Slow astern.
HELMSMAN: Slow astern.
FORD: Doreen, when she was on the bridge, said after they made impact, the ship came to a stop.
He walked up to the helmsman and said, "this is how you break through ice.
You go astern and ahead, and back and forth until you basically break through.
" NARRATOR: The Captain is hoping to use the pitching motion of the ship's bow to smash down on the ice and break it, allowing the vessel to move forward.
WIMAN: Full ahead, please.
HELMSMAN: Full ahead.
NARRATOR: It's a technique he's used many times before in his two decades at sea.
WIMAN: We don't have far to go now, we're almost through it.
HORWOOD: All the time I was on the bridge, the Captain, he was saying, "if you can't get through the first time, then you have to go back and, and sort of charge it again.
" DREW MCNEILL: It's called ramming the ice.
So, and ramming the ice is exactly what it, what it is.
You are, you are going at full power and pushing your way through a difficult ice situation.
NARRATOR: Ford also interviews the passenger who first reported the flooding, Eli Charne.
FORD: Show me where the flooding was.
CHARNE: It was all through here, at least four cabins.
INVESTIGATOR: On the starboard side? CHARNE: Yeah, I, I knew right then we were gonna sink.
NARRATOR: The flooding clearly spread quickly to multiple cabins; Hardly what you'd expect from a fist-sized hole.
FORD: They all started flooding together, which told me the fist-sized hole theory was gone, that's out, and it sounded like a slice, a slice right down the side of the hull.
CHARNE: Turn on the light! Turn on the light! NARRATOR: The timing is significant.
Doreen says Eli's alarm went off right after the Captain moved back and forth in the ice.
It's a critical lead.
HEARN: The passenger watching that ship, you know, at speed, seemingly wanting to smash and bang off these large floes, she was quite right to be concerned, because the explorer wasn't an icebreaker.
It was never even in her design.
She was a vessel capable of operating in ice, but very carefully so.
NARRATOR: The explorer had a double bottom.
But its single layer of side hull plating was vulnerable in heavy ice.
The investigators scour the captain's records.
They need to know why a mariner with more than 25 years' experience would perform such a dangerous maneuver.
INVESTIGATOR: This guy's a seasoned veteran.
FORD: Agreed, he's a solid ice pilot.
NARRATOR: Then, they notice a troubling detail.
FORD: Whoa, take a look at this.
This was his first trip to the antarctic.
INVESTIGATOR: Really? FORD: He had experience in the Baltic, but not in the arctic, and it's two different types of ice.
NARRATOR: Ice in the Baltic sea freezes and melts every season, so it doesn't build up and thicken over time.
In that region, ramming through an ice field is a tried and tested technique.
In the antarctic, where ice can thicken and harden over years, the maneuver can be deadly.
MCNEILL: In the Baltic, you can ram, because you know what the ice conditions are going to be like.
You're not going to deal with anything heavier than first-year ice.
HEARN: In the antarctic, you don't want to get into an activity where you're backing the vessel and ramming ice.
You want to slow the vessel down if you're going to encounter a larger piece or a floe and then just build up momentum to push the ice out of the way.
NARRATOR: Ford needs to find out exactly what kind of ice the Captain was facing.
And once again, it's a passenger who may hold the key.
FORD: Georgie Hale, she emailed me and she said, "and by the way, I was taking video.
" I said, "when?" She goes, "right at the point of impact and flooding.
" I almost fell out of my seat.
HALE: I was very pleased that I'd got my video footage, which I was able to give to the investigation.
FORD: It was just invaluable information, critical in the investigation.
[THUMP] NARRATOR: The investigation team gathers to study Georgie Hale's video of the explorer's trip through the ice.
HALE: How's he gonna get through this lot? Absolutely solid ice.
NARRATOR: Lead investigator Bob Ford has recruited a former Captain of the explorer, with nearly 10 years' experience as an ice pilot.
He should be able to tell them whether the ice field was first-year ice, as the Captain claims, or much more dangerous multi-year ice and an immediate hazard to the ship.
CAPTAIN: It looks like he's moving about five knots; That's pretty fast in an ice field.
NARRATOR: It's immediately apparent the Captain was moving too quickly for the conditions.
HEARN: And when you're in the antarctic and you're sailing along, you're constantly being vigilant for pieces of ice that you may not see.
And you may not see them until you're, you're upon them.
So typically, you may slow down if you know there's ice in the, in the area.
NARRATOR: A flag on the bow, blowing in the wind, provides another vital clue.
CAPTAIN: Look at that flag.
They're sailing into the wind.
That's gonna be a problem.
NARRATOR: The wind is blowing the ice in front of the ship tighter and tighter, closing off every Avenue of escape.
MCNEILL: As he's proceeding through the ice he's looking for openings as he goes.
Those openings are getting smaller and smaller to the point where it becomes very concentrated, and he has no choice but to come into contact with pieces.
CAPTAIN: Right there, stop it.
Could you rewind it, please? NARRATOR: But it's the size and shape of the ice floes, barely discernible in the dark, that is the most alarming of all.
CAPTAIN: There! See the thickness of the ice? No way that's first-year ice.
NARRATOR: This image from Georgie Hale's vacation video shows the explorer approaching a large ice floe that is clearly multi-year ice capable of piercing the ship's hull.
Moments later, the explorer makes contact with it on the starboard side.
FORD: I think we have what we need.
He was overconfident.
The Captain was just overconfident that this ship could handle this ice field.
He was wrong that it was first-year ice.
HELMSMAN: I think we need the searchlights now.
NARRATOR: The investigation concludes that the loss of the explorer was the result of a chain of errors.
WIMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, a bit of an update for you.
NARRATOR: It began with the decision to go through the ice in the first place.
WIMAN: This change will take us through some sea ice tonight, so you should expect some noise.
NARRATOR: In the darkness, it would have been nearly impossible for the Captain to properly assess the ice.
And his aggressive maneuvering made matters worse.
WIMAN: Full ahead now, please.
HELMSMAN: Full ahead.
NARRATOR: Although effective in thin, Baltic ice, it was too dangerous in antarctic conditions.
WIMAN: I've done this countless times.
You've just got to keep going at it.
NARRATOR: His attempt to break through the ice likely tore a long gash in the side hull, setting off the catastrophic flooding that capsized and sank the ship.
FORD: At the rate of flooding going into the explorer, I don't believe they could have saved that ship no matter what they tried.
NARRATOR: It's a conclusion Ford never could have reached if not for the passengers.
FORD: Without the passengers like Georgie, Doreen and Eli, it would have been impossible.
We would not have gotten the answers we needed just relying on the crew.
NARRATOR: The sinking of the MV explorer nearly claimed 154 lives.
And more shipping of all kinds is entering polar regions every year.
Faced with a growing threat, the international maritime community must find new ways to get captains ice-ready.
At the marine institute of memorial university of Newfoundland and Labrador, a realistic simulator is making it possible to better train future ice pilots to safely navigate through polar waters.
HEARN: The center for marine simulation offers services for the shipping industry for individuals who are, are doing work in really risky environments, like ice navigation.
So people come from all over the world.
MCNEILL: You've got your speed indication there, there, right now it's showing 9.
1 knots, but it should come down.
NARRATOR: Instructor drew mcneill served with the Canadian coast guard for 37 years.
He has an in-depth knowledge of the different kinds of ice and how to handle them.
He's about to lead Maria Halfyard and her crew through an exercise in ice field navigation.
MCNEILL: The intent is to get over to the open water patch on the other side of this concentration of ice here.
Ready, pilot? CONNELLY: Ready.
MCNEILL: Okay, let's start this exercise now.
HALFYARD: Coming up there now.
NARRATOR: The simulator can imitate a wide variety of ship types, and realistic graphics provide a detailed view of an ocean covered with different kinds of ice.
It even feels real.
The simulator is mounted on a hydraulic base to create the motions a ship would experience at sea.
HALFYARD: Okay, I'm going four knots, is that fine? MCNEILL: That's, that's good speed.
HALFYARD: Is that, uh, first-year ice or older ice? MCNEILL: This is first-year ice, but within that area there is the evidence of, of some bergy bits.
The bergy bit is when the piece of glacial ice is no more than five meters above the sea surface.
And so that becomes much more difficult to detect, because it's much lower in the water.
And a growler is even smaller.
It's going to be one meter or less above the sea surface.
But below the sea surface it's going to be significant.
And then they're very, extremely difficult to detect even in, in daylight conditions.
We don't know how thick this ice is.
NARRATOR: The realistic views make it possible for students to hone their ice recognition skills.
MCNEILL: You're coming into contact, just bring your pitch to zero, and that way you're not using any force, and she's just going to drift into it.
And so we're, we're working our way in until we actually get into it, then we're better able to read it.
[CRASH] NARRATOR: The ship makes contact with the outer edge of the simulated ice field.
MCNEILL: And as you're making your speed adjustments, just work in increments, and that way you have more control over how the ship is moving, rather than doing large adjustments.
HEARN: One of the ethos of the center is to make people uncomfortable; Make people sweat.
The situations are designed to be as realistic as possible, because a mistake made here and a lesson learned is something that won't happen in reality where people's lives are on the line.
HALFYARD: I'm going to change direction to 215, connelly.
MCNEILL: Coming out of the ice now.
Okay, good.
No matter whatever mistake you make, at the end of the day, it's, you're still in a classroom environment and you go home.
If you're at sea and you make that same mistake, hopefully you'll be alive to even reflect on it in the future.
NARRATOR: The final report into the sinking of the MV explorer praises the crew's response to the emergency, especially chief engineer jerzy pawlowski.
His quick-thinking solution to the sudden power outage made it possible to safely deploy the lifeboats.
FORD: Chief engineer, as we said, he was the hero, and he rigged up something, and he got going what the Captain needed.
WIMAN: Keep her steady on this course for now, okay? NARRATOR: The report criticizes the Captain for entering the ice field.
FORD: The decision of the Captain to enter the ice field at best was flawed; At worst was reckless.
NARRATOR: Despite the ordeal, Doreen Horwood doesn't blame him.
HORWOOD: By this accident happening, lessons have been learnt, and it is a blessing that nobody lost their lives.
I'm sure the Captain didn't want to sink the ship.
I can't really attribute sort of blame.
It wasn't purposeful.
CHARNE: I think that he made a mistake.
I think that he had a misunderstanding of the capabilities of the, the ship that we were on.
SVENSSON: He's a really good Captain.
I would gladly serve with him again.
HALE: I think I've got a very different attitude to life because of what happened.
Small things don't, don't worry me anymore.
I think when you've been through something like that you tend to take a far more laid-back attitude to life in general.
CHARNE: I do feel lucky to still be here.
I think if there's a lesson from it, it's really just to, to not let small things bother you.
And pretty much everything is small.