Disasters at Sea: MV Derbyshire

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 25, 2019

(Image: Discovery Canada)

(Image: Discovery Canada)

DISASTERS AT SEA is an original new docuseries that premiered last week on Discovery Canada (US viewers can check out Smithsonian Channel).

Each episode tells the unimaginable true story of a maritime disaster, combining harrowing reenactments with expert analysis from marine investigators. Whether it’s survivor testimony about a sudden sound, GPS data about the ship’s speed, or the scatter pattern of wreckage at the bottom of the ocean, each piece of evidence helps investigators build a dramatic picture of the deadly chain of events.


Discovery Channel Canada Air Dates:

  • April 16 - “Coffin Ship” - MV Derbyshire
  • April 23 – “Shipwrecked in Alaska” – The Alaska Ranger
  • April 30 - “Deadly Rescue” - Marine Electric
  • May 7 – “Wreck of the Rocknes” - MV Rocknes
  • May 14 – “Ice Ship” - MV Explorer
  • May 21 – “Torn Apart” – MSC Napoli

Premiere episode – Coffin Ship
In 1980, MV Derbyshire was en route from Canada to Japan carrying nearly 160,000 tons of iron ore when the captain received word there was a typhoon coming his way. Three conflicting weather reports predicted a different paths for the storm, so he altered course to avoid all three. But his strategy didn’t work and MV Derbyshire soon found itself rocked by huge waves and violent winds. The ship’s last radio call to shore reported they were heaving to and were going wait out the storm. It was the last time anyone heard from the ship. When they failed to reach their destination, a massive search operation was launched, but it turned up no debris from the ship and no sign of any survivors. All 44 people on board are dead.

The UK government at first refused to investigate but the families of the dead demanded answers.

The Derbyshire was a huge vessel at 965 feet long and 145 feet wide and was operated by an experienced captain and crew. The vessel should have been capable of withstanding a violent storm, even a typhoon. With the government refusing to hunt for the wreck, the families realized it would be up to them to find answers.

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