In keeping with National Geographic's excellent video tradition, this video skillfully combines actual battle footage and the story or Dr. Robert Ballard's (Titanic, USS Yorktown) search for the Bismarck. Commissioned in 1939 and completed in 1941, the Bismarck was one of the most feared ships afloat. With a main battery of 8 15-inch guns, she could easily wreak havoc on British convoys sailing from America. The Bismarck was spotted by a British fighter plane in Norway, and the Royal Navy was alerted. The British battlecruiser Hood was the first ship to sight the Bismarck. The ensuing battle lasted all of 6 minutes, and the Hood was destroyed by the Bismarck. Only 3 men out of a crew of 1,400 survived the Hood's sinking. However, other forces had been alerted, and the British closed in on the Bismarck. In a brave attack by British carrier-based torpedo planes, the Bismarck's rudder was damaged, and the ship could only sail in a straight line. The rest of the British battleships and cruisers now closed in. Finally, the Bismarck succumed to the British guns and slid beneath the Atlantic.
Dr. Ballard's search for the Bismarck is vividly portrayed in this video. Ballard is an accomplished undersea explorer, and his adventures have been captured in other videos, including the discovery of the Titanic, The USS Yorktown, and the lost ships of Guadalcanal. Ballard encounters trouble in his first expedition. Thinking he had found the Bismarck, he is disappointed to discover that he had found a 19th century sailing vessel. Undeterred, Ballard returns to the Atlantic the following year with a new research ship. This time, Ballard and his crew spend their time searching the dangerous underwater mountain area where the Bismarck was believed to have went down. Finally, the ship is discovered, and, except for her main turrets, is in remarkably good condition. Numerous underwater shots are shown in the video, as well as testimonials from both British and German crewmembers. Their tales bring this exciting chase to life.
I own several of Ballard's other National Geographic videos, and this one maintains the other's high standards of actual battle footage and undersea exploration. I recommend this video to anyone who enjoys naval history and undersea exploration.