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PBS Special

PBS Special

Saving the Titanic

PBS Special "Saving the Titanic"
Airs Tuesday, December 11 at 7:00 PM

Saving the Titanic tells the untold story of the self-sacrifice and bravery of the ship's engineers, stokers and firemen in the face of impending death. Starring an ensemble cast featuring David Wilmot ("The Guard," "The Tudors" and "Intermission") and Ciaran McMenamin ("Sinking of the Laconia," "David Copperfield" and "Primeval"), Saving the Titanic seeks to answer the question of what happened in the engine and boiler rooms after the ship's fateful collision with a North Atlantic iceberg. Based on eyewitness accounts, this is the remarkable story of nine men from the engineering crew who fought courageously to hold back the power of the sea and keep the power systems running, even when they learned that all was lost. The engineering crew consisted of fireman and stokers, who shoveled coal into the ship's 29 boilers that powered its two massive steam engines, and engineers who made sure the engines and other mechanical equipment functioned smoothly. A memorial to commemorate their bravery was erected in Liverpool, England and unveiled in 1916.



Ciaran McMenamin as lead fireman Fred Barrett.
The engineering marvel of its day, the "virtually unsinkable" Titanic, built for the White Star Line, took less than two years to complete at a cost of about $7.5 million dollars. The ship carried more than 2,200 passengers and crew on its maiden voyage to New York City, departing from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912 with stops in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland. Even though it was constructed with a double reinforced steel hull and 16 watertight compartments, as an added safety feature, the Titanic sank in less than three hours after striking an iceberg in the late evening of April 14, 1912. More than 1,500 died and 705 survivors were rescued by the Carpathia, which responded to Titanic's distress signals after the collision.

David Wilmot as chief engineer Joseph Bell.
The fate of the luxury liner continues to capture the public's imagination to such an extent that the upcoming auction of more than 5,500 artifacts recovered from the sunken ship has elicited hundreds of interested calls to Guernsey's Auctioneers and Brokers. The wreck was discovered about 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada in 1985 by a team of American and French scientists, led by oceanographer Robert Ballard. The Titanic collection must be purchased in its entirety - items cannot be sold individually - and the sale is subject to court approval after the winning bid is selected by the auction house in mid-April.