It was an exciting week at our Parallax offices. After months of hard work, the first episode of our news series, Hell Below was broadcast in Canada on Smithsonian Channel Canada. We started production last May in Cleveland, OH aboard the USS Cod, a vintage, World War II era submarine that is now a Museum. It was a thrill to climb down through the hatch and down the ladder, listening to the metal echo with each step. The smell of hydraulic fluids and diesel infuses your clothes if you spend enough time there. To serve abroad the sub with a crew of more than eighty men seems incomprehensible. Visiting is an experience we’d recommend for everyone.

Commander Dudley Morton and Executive Officer Richard O'Kane Play Cribbage Aboard USS Wahoo
Commander Dudley Morton and Executive Officer Richard O’Kane Play Cribbage Aboard USS Wahoo

It was amazing to be there as we filmed the dramatic recreations for our shows. The young men in uniforms, crowded into the Conning Tower, raising and lowering the periscopes. The Museum maintained its regular operations while we filmed and the patrons also seemed bemused by our “sailors”.

“Make a hole and make it wide!” someone would yell to let the groups pass our cast and camera crew. We sat at the Ward Room table in what you’d consider the Officers Mess planning scenes and brainstorming shots. A faint shiver went up my spine when we turned on the record player and we dropped on an album imagining the crew doing the same thousands of miles from home and far out at sea.

Over the summer our crew also travelled to Laboe, Germany which is home to U-995 a rare example of a serving U-Boat, which we were also lucky enough to film aboard.

U-995 in Laboe, Germany
U-995 in Laboe, Germany

Smaller than its American counterpart, the Type VII’s were the most widely produced submarine just before and through World War II. Life aboard the U-Boats was definitely more austere. Their fresh water was essentially only used for drinking. Shaving, showering and laundry waited until the crew was ashore after their 60+ day patrols. Halfway through the submarine Commander would have the sheets turned over for the return trip home.

Each of the episodes of Hell Below tells the story of a different submarine patrol or in the case of one episode, a convoy battle. We join the adventures of USS Wahoo in our episode America Fights Back, USS Tang in Fatal Voyage, USS Harder in Destroyer Killer, U-99 in The Wolfpack, U-123 in Hitler’s Revenge and the attacks on Convoy HX-229 in Atlantic Showdown. You can check our the series title sequence below:

Hell Below is currently airing on Tuesdays on Smithsonian Channel in Canada. The episodes are available for Canadian viewers online for a limited time after broadcast here.

We look forward to announcing more worldwide broadcast dates shortly. Stay tuned!