"Sink the Bismarck" was the cry as British forces searched the Atlantic for the German navy's most powerful vessel. The pursuit ended on May 27, 1941, in a battle that plunged the Bismarck into waters nearly three miles deep, taking with it more than 2,000 lives. Almost half a century later, explorer and scientist Dr. Robert D. Ballard, who discovered the sunken S.S. Titanic, searched the Atlantic for the infamous Bismarck. On June 8, 1989, he located the sunken ship, 600 miles off the coast of France. National Geographic looks back at the first - and last - mission of the Bismarck and talks with survivors of the notorious World War II battle. Then, in its climactic chapter, SEARCH FOR THE BATTLESHIP BISMARCK reveals exclusive footage of this remarkable undersea exploration.
The battleship Bismarck, the pride of the Nazi navy, was thought, like the ill-fated Titanic, to be unsinkable. When it left port in May 1941, even the formidable British navy professed to be nervous, and the rallying cry "Sink the Bismarck!" was born. Amazingly, just two weeks into its maiden voyage, the Bismarck was spotted, torpedoed, and sunk by the British in the North Atlantic, an almost unbelievable turn of events--as crucial a turning point in World War II for the Germans, according to one survivor interviewed in this video, as Pearl Harbor was for the Americans. In 1989 Dr. Bob Ballard, the man who discovered the Titanic, and a crew painstakingly searched a 100-square-mile area off France, and after some heartbreaking near misses, ultimately found the remains of the once-glorious ship. The video cuts effectively between historic footage, interviews with British and German survivors, and scenes from the Ballard expedition, expertly woven together to paint a complete portrait of the sinking and its aftermath. Fans of Titanic and World War II buffs especially will be fascinated. --Anne Hurley