History Hit’s Dan Snow on Finding Shackleton’s Endurance

The ship known as Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, en route to the South Pole, became stuck in pack ice and ultimately sank in the Weddell Sea, where it has remained since 1914. Historian and History Hit co-founder Dan Snow, with a crew including renowned maritime archaeologist Mensun Bound, climate scientists and oceanographers, is heading out on an expedition to locate the shipwreck in a journey that will be documented and broadcasted to audiences around the world. Snow talks to TV Real about factual’s unique draw to international viewers, the challenges of documenting an expedition in real time and History Hit’s role in combating the scourge of fake news and misinformation.

***Image***“What’s interesting about factual is that there are these global factual events which I think are really engaging,” says Snow. “Finding the most famous shipwreck in the world that is yet to be discovered, the Endurance, that’s a story for all humanity. It’s a story that was on front-page news around the world when it happened, when the ship was lost. This is something that can unite everybody. It’s something that’s going to be fascinating no matter where you are in the world. It’s Antarctica; it’s literally like a neutral space. This is not a story with a national flag on it. It’s a story of endurance and suffering and survival, which is very universal.”

In order to bring this expedition to the curious masses in real time, Snow’s team will be using underwater drones and vehicles to search the seabed and broadcast technology that will enable them to send the feed across the globe via satellite communications. “There is no other expedition on Earth that can deploy technology like this,” says Snow. “The opportunities to do live streams from the Antarctic, which has previously been a pretty challenging place to do that, we think we’ll be able to do now. We’re going to potentially be broadcasting pictures live from the seabed of Antarctica.”

History Hit has partnered on the project with the All3Media company Little Dot Studios to produce a range of content that will cover everything from setting up the expedition to the voyage and search for the Endurance, as well as the history, science and other relevant aspects of the mission. History Hit TV, HistoryHit.com and History Hit’s podcast network and social channels will showcase short-form content that the expedition yields. Little Dot’s network of owned and operated digital and social media accounts, including Timeline, Spark and Real Stories, will carry content as well. Snow’s team will also be shooting for a long-form documentary about the journey to locate the Endurance.

Technological advancements aside, the expedition itself poses significant challenges, in addition to those related to capturing the necessary footage and getting it in front of captive viewers. “The last time they went down to look for this wreck, they lost one of their underwater search vehicles,” notes Snow. “You’re talking about thousands of meters of depth; you’re talking about the most inhospitable place on planet Earth. We’re going to be trying to drill holes through the ice pack—and the ice pack is always shifting. We’re looking at very uncertain conditions; we are looking at a wreck where we don’t really know where it is.”

“There are a whole bunch of things that could go wrong,” adds Snow. “That’s kind of what makes it exciting.”

What also makes this project exciting is the breadth of its aim, which extends far beyond a hunt for a famous shipwreck. Snow reveals, “There are going to be climate scientists on board. There are going to be people looking at ice formation in the Weddell Sea and the effect that climate change is having on the thickness of ice, the volume of ice in the Weddell Sea at that time of year. There are going to be experts on Antarctic weather. There’s going to be oceanographers, people looking at the ocean currents, studying that. This expedition is a vehicle for all kinds of different expertises to come together and do some really important science—some really important engineering, some really important climate science, and, of course, some maritime archaeology.”

Snow sees part of the job of History Hit as taking on ”fake news and propagation of myth and lies on social media. We’ve got bad actors, state and corporate bad actors intervening in that conversation. I think factual TV is essential. It’s a place where we can establish consensus facts, where we can provide citizens in a democracy with information they need to vote and make decisions around their consumer choices. We need to come together around real information, around facts, around authority. History Hit has a part to play in that. We can provide context.”

“History Hit is a place where we can amplify good scholars, good historians, legitimate voices,” adds Snow. “We can amplify, get that out to millions and millions of people, both on our video channel and our audio channel. For me, History Hit has a small but essential role to play in that mission. We’re all in it together at the moment.”