Clive Cussler has sold some 100 million books worldwide, many of them featuring his Bond-like protagonist Dirk Pitt, who, like Cussler himself, collects vintage and antique cars and is a member of NUMA [The National Underwater Marine Agency]. Unlike Pitt however Custler does not go in much for hunting down arch-villains around the globe but does go in for hunting down long-lost ship-wrecks with an expert dive team that includes marine archeologist James Delgado. They are also less interested in finding sunken treasure than they are in understanding, supplementing and completing the historical record.

In the DVD Set 1 of the Sea Hunters Cussler and his team unearth and explore the remnants of ships and installations sunken or submerged during World War II. We join the divers as they enter the flooded tunnels of the V-2 rocket caves in Germany for example, where many thousands of Jewish slave laborers perished as part of Hitler’s last-ditch master plan to annihilate both an entire race of people and an entire country – England. The V-2’s were the German scientist’s ultimate weapons of mass destruction sent to rain down fiery terror on the peoples of London from these chill and eerie caves bored by hand deep inside the gypsum mines.

We travel to a remote Canadian lake high in the Rockies to explore the remains of a man-made island constructed entirely of ice and wood chips – both not too hard to find in the high north. It was Geoffrey Pike’s crack-pot but brilliant idea to construct floating islands that could be used as aircraft bases far out in the Atlantic where the u-boats lay in wait for the convoys bringing vital equipment and supplies to war-torn Europe. These ‘Pikecrete’ islands, [designed with Churchill’s full approval], would be so large that they could stand in for a dozen aircraft carriers laid side by side and would contain complete mechanics workshops and refueling bays together with housing for workers and hangers for the aircraft. Covering aircraft of the time were severely limited by their fuel ranges and were forced to turn back long before they reached the u-boat killing grounds – from there on the convoys had to ‘go it alone’ through the icy black waters where they quickly become sitting targets for the submarine patrols who could snuff them out at their leisure. The Pikecrete islands aimed to solve the problem and turn the tables. It was fortunate – or unfortunate as the case may be for Geoffrey Pike – that his invention never came to fruition because the war ended long before his islands could be completed.

We also join the divers on the wreck of the brave little minesweeper Eddy off the coast of Malta, and explore the remains of the German refugee ship the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that went down taking 9000 souls with her, then we participate in the hunt for U-Boat 215, and undertake a survey of the depths off Juno Beach where Canadian soldiers realized their ‘finest hour’ on June 6th 1940.

The DVD runs for 96 minutes and includes bonus footage for each episode together with a bio of Clive Cussler himself. If I have one criticism of what is a valuable historical record in and of itself, it is that there is less diving than there is discussion – and in several cases there is very little left to see, particularly in the V-2 rocket tunnels where we are treated primarily to views of bits of iron, floating detritus and piles of rocks. There is not much left to suggest the horrors of what once went on there – but perhaps that’s a very good thing.

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