This eight-part series follows the stories of eight remarkable warships. Once titans of the sea, they now litter the seabed, their histories lost to the waves - until now.

The twentieth century bore witness to some of the most devastating naval battles in history. Hundreds of thousands of men and women served in some of the largest armadas ever assembled, as, from the Arctic Sea to the South Pacific, colossal battleships met in desperate conflict alongside aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers. These warships symbolised a nation's power on the world stage. With each generation, they grew more powerful and advanced. These were machines of war that inspired both awe and terror.

But many of these ocean titans did not survive. Naval warfare was always evolving, and what was once groundbreaking was soon obsolete. Ships were destroyed by gunfire, torpedoes, and bombs, often with catastrophic loss of life.

This engrossing 8 part series explores the fates of these remarkable vessels and those who served on them. Through rarely seen archive, modern graphics, and exclusive interviews and analysis, “Sunken Warships: Secrets from the Deep” will tell the epic stories of bravery and hubris, triumph and disaster.

From the brave British cruiser lost carrying Stalin’s gold, to an American submarine that vanished beneath the waves, these lost ships all have secrets to be revealed and incredible stories to tell.

Episode 1: Scharnhorst: Hitler’s Lucky Ship

In a short but dramatic career the Nazi battleship Scharnhorst became one of the most feared warships of the Second World War.  She sank the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Glorious and became the scourge of Allied Convoys in the North Atlantic. Then, when under threat of destruction, Scharnhorst escaped back to Germany through the English Channel in one of the most audacious naval operations in the entire war. But her luck would finally run out in the freezing waters of the Arctic, in a deadly battle with the British battleship Duke of York.

Episode 2: USS Scorpion: The Hunt for USS Scorpion

The loss of the Skipjack-class nuclear powered submarine USS Scorpion is one of the greatest maritime mysteries of the 20th Century. When she disappeared in 1968, the Scorpion was one of the most modern and deadliest attack submarines the world had ever seen. Following a huge search and rescue operation the wreck was finally located at a depth of just under 10,000 feet. But speculation over the cause of her loss continues to this day. Was it a faulty torpedo, a fire within the submarine's batteries, or even a deadly confrontation with America’s cold war rival, the Soviet Union?

Episode 3: HMS Edinburgh: The Ship of Gold

For centuries, explorers have searched inside shipwrecks for gold, but there has never been a treasure trove as valuable - or as difficult to recover - as that lost in the waters of the Barents Sea in 1941. British light cruiser HMS Edinburgh was assigned the dangerous mission of escorting an Arctic convoy to the Soviet Union. But on her trip home, laden with Russian gold, the warship was attacked by a German U-boat. Edinburgh's fight for survival and the audacious operation launched to recover the gold decades later tell a remarkable forgotten story of bravery above and below the sea.

Episode 4: USS Nevada: The Unsinkable USS Nevada

USS Nevada was a legend in the United States Navy. She was the only American battleship to raise steam during the deadly Japanese attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour and managed to survive the assault despite suffering appalling torpedo and bomb damage.  Nevada’s guns would go on to support the D-Day landings in Europe and those in the Pacific at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. But despite her exemplary service, at the end of the war, she was selected as a target ship for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. But even a nuclear bomb couldn't sink Nevada...

Episode 5 - USS Phoenix/Ara General Belgrano: A Ship of Two Nations

Originally launched in the United States, the light cruiser USS Phoenix survived the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 and went on to play a vital but unsung role in World War Two. Following the conflict, she was sold to the Argentine government and was eventually renamed the General Belgrano. By 1982, the much-updated cruiser was part of an Argentine naval force tasked with defending the newly conquered Falkland Islands from the British. But she was torpedoed and sunk by Royal Navy submarine HMS Conqueror, a decision which caused outrage at the time and remains controversial to this very day.

Episode 6 - Bismarck: The Floating Fortress

With her fearsome combination of size, speed, and immense firepower, the German warship Bismarck terrified British naval planners - and with good reason. In 1941, the new battleship destroyed the Royal Navy’s most famous cruiser, HMS Hood. The British swore revenge. A dramatic pursuit followed as Bismarck raced across the Atlantic Ocean for the safety of Nazi-occupied France while British ships tried to intercept her. Bismarck was just a few hundred miles from the French coast when the Royal Navy finally caught up with her. Bismarck would be destroyed in a hail of shellfire, but her spectacular story would never be forgotten.

Episode 7 - HMS Barham: Catastrophe and Coverup

When she was launched in 1914, HMS Barham was one of the most powerful battleships afloat - and she would prove her worth to the Royal Navy over two world wars. Deployed across the globe, she saw action in Africa and played a key role at the Battle of Cape Matapan in the Mediterranean. But her distinguished career was finally brought to an end in 1941 by a torpedo from a German U-boat. News of her sinking was suppressed to protect the British public’s morale. But that embargo was broken by a “psychic medium” who became the last woman in Britain tried for witchcraft.

Episode 8 - HMS Exeter: Always Faithful

In the Royal Navy, HMS Exeter has become synonymous with bravery and sacrifice. She provided a rare spark of good news in the dark days of 1939, when she won victory over the German pocket battleship Graf Spee in the South Atlantic. She then served in the Far East, but her luck did not last. Severely damaged by an enemy shell in battle, she attempted to escape the Japanese off the island of Java but was hunted down and sunk in shark-infested waters. Exeter was rediscovered in remarkably preserved condition in 2007, but by 2015 her wreck had mysteriously vanished…



8 x one hour


Channel 5




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