This hour: we’ll bob from the biggest maritime disaster that you've never heard of, to a man who saved thousands of shipboard lives with a deceptively simple design.
The Sinking of the Lancastria
by Susan Marling and presented by Allan Little (BBC, Radio 4, 2010)
People have always been fascinated by ship-related disasters. The Titanic, for example, has captured our imaginations in hundreds of books and films over the years. But buried in history is a far bigger shipwreck - one that killed more people than the Titanic and the Lusitania combined. The ship was called the Lancastria, and now the last remaining survivors and their children tell its story.
A Cheer for Samuel Plimsoll
by Roman Mars (99% Invisible, 2011)
In the 1800s, shipping disasters were commonplace. Even without icebergs and bombs to aid their demise, ships regularly sank because of overloading. The problem was so prevalent that a crusading British member of Parliament pledged to do something about it. His solution was so simple, so ingenious and so effective, that it is still in use today.
A Nightingale Among Ye
by Sam Greenspan (Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, 2006)
All of the safety regulations and procedures that saved the lives of sailors and seamen killed some of their best traditions. Case in point: the sea shanty. As the steam engine ushered in modernization, it ushered out the onboard work songs that helped time go by and ease difficult tasks. Fortunately, they haven’t disappeared altogether, thanks in part to Bob Webb.
Big Ship Diary
by Allison Swaim (WBEZ, Front and Center, 2011)
Regardless of all the modern conveniences and technological advances, life on a ship in the middle of the water, for weeks at a time, can be difficult, isolating and lonely. Radio producer Allison Swaim spent nine days aboard a bulk ore ship (a ship so big it would take a thousand semi-trucks to carry the same load) to bring us this modern tale of life on the water.
This episode of Re:sound was produced by Katie Mingle.
MUSIC FOR RE:SOUND IS PROVIDED BY RECKLESS RECORDS.
Brian Eno, "The Big Ship," Another Green World, (Astralwerks, 2004)
BBC Shipping Forecast theme song (Sailing By)
What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor (Accordian).
Sending Letters to The Sea, "Something Never Said,"
Woody Guthrie, "The Sinking of the Rueben James," Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection, (Smithsonian Folkways, 2012)
Hear more episodes of Roman Mars' show about design, 99% Invisible, including our own Gwen Macsai's piece on the Purple Hotel.