NOVA’s newest special is as good as a three hour tour

Courtesy: PBS

It’s Summertime again.  that means that millions of people worldwide will take to the high seas on the many cruise liners that traverse the world’s oceans.  For the most part, cruise liners are safe.  But the capsizing of the  Costa Concordia earlier this year brought back memories of another ill fated cruise liner called the Titanic.  When the Costa Concordia capsized off of the Italian coast earlier this year, it was only months removed from the one hundredth anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.  Now, PBS’ NOVA takes a look at what led to the demise of not only the Titanic and the Costa Concordia, but cruise liners in general.

In trying to answer the question of why ships sink, NOVA looks at a  variety of possible causes.  It starts off its hour long investigation by looking at the construction of the Titanic versus that of the Costa Concordia.  The program notes how Titanic was built using riveted metal.  The Costa Concordia, on the other hand, was constructed in an entirely different fashion.  That difference in general construction is one of the possibilities examined in what led to the two ships going down. 

In relation to the two ships’ general construction, NOVA also examines how many of today’s cruise liners are being built with a much higher center of gravity.  That center of gravity is in direct relation to the shape of the ships’ hulls.  This is very similar to a discussion on the shape of Titanic’s hull having an impact on its sinking in one History Channel special centered on the liner.  NOVA’s investigation points out the newer design of today’s cruise liners causes an increase in the risk of ships capsizing and potentially sinking.  It points out that the risk has increased because the different shape of the hull changes the ship’s water displacement, thus increasing the chance of the ship capsizing and/or sinking in rough waters.

The newer, high-centered design of today’s cruise liners has likely posed a big threat in safety of ships.  However, for all the possible issues with construction, human error is always a possibility, too.  NOVA looks into that in the course of this special, too.  It ties the higher centered design of today’s cruise ships to the choice made by the captain of the Costa Concordia as one example of possible human error leading to a ship going down.  The special notes that because of the ship’s high center of gravity, the captain’s last second choice to turn away from the rocks off of the Italian coast could have led the ship to list to one side.  It doesn’t say that was the cause.  It only questions if that could have contributed to the ship capsizing.   

“Why Ships Sink” goes in to much more detail than what is noted here.  The in depth investigation examines not only the Titanic and Costa Concordia, but other cruise disasters, too.  It seamlessly ties those disasters in to the overall presentation, making for a special that will keep audiences’ attention over the course of its hour long run time.  “Why Ships Sink” is available on dvd, beginning today.  It can be purchased in stores or online at

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