The Film Will Encore on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 5 at
10 p.m. on CPTV, and on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. on CPTV Spirit
HARTFORD, Conn. (Oct. 5, 2018) – The dramatic and little-known story of the USS Triton is told in the new one-hour documentary “Triton: America’s Deep Secret.” Once the largest submarine in the world, the Triton was built, launched and commissioned in Connecticut, and much of “Triton: America’s Deep Secret” was filmed in the Nutmeg State. The film will premiere on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. It will encore on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 5 at 10 p.m. on CPTV, and on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. on CPTV Spirit.
The Triton’s story dates back to October 1957, with the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik and the beginning of the Space Race. As the Cold War arms race intensified, Americans demanded action. Unfortunately, early rocket launches were failures for the fledgling U.S. space program. The Eisenhower administration launched a new plan for demonstrating American military and technological superiority: Send a nuclear submarine around the world – submerged the entire time – and remain undetected until completing the journey. Enter the USS Triton, then a brand-new submarine, and the world’s largest.
The Triton’s mission was classified, so secret it was kept from most of the Navy and her own crew. They thought they were going out on the standard shakedown cruise. Instead, they would combine the usual tests for a new ship with an around-the-world mission.
The Triton’s crew had an experienced and even famous captain to lead them through their trials: Capt. Edward L. Beach, Jr., a decorated veteran of Pacific battles in World War II. He was also the author of several books, including “Run Silent, Run Deep,” a novel set on board a submarine, which was adapted into a film starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.
Beach and his crew of 150 sailors, ship builders and photographers sailed down the Thames River into the Atlantic in February of 1960. The crew did not know where they were going, nor did their families. Beach didn’t announce their mission until after the sub dived into the ocean. He then told them they would go around the world, following Magellan’s old route.
However, less than two weeks into the journey, a vital piece of equipment failed, and a member of the crew got sick. The Triton was behind schedule as the captain and his officers tried to figure out how to get the sick man off the vessel while staying submerged. Meanwhile, they were almost blind when the navigation device failed and could no longer warn them about submerged mountains – including one they almost struck in the Atlantic.
Through all the challenges, the Triton also served as a research vessel. The crew worked to make maps, gather data and conduct tests. Psychological tests were even performed on the crew, as the on-board psychologist wanted to determine how long periods in a confined space with no sunlight would affect them. In some of the funnier moments of the voyage, the crew turned the tables on the doctor; the humorous pranks they played on him are discussed in the film.
And still they kept moving through the water, trying to arrive in time to give President Eisenhower a hand to play at an upcoming summit with Soviet Premier Khrushchev. After so many trials, the captain and crew were ready to celebrate reaching the end of their journey – and then trouble struck again. “Triton: America’s Deep Secret” reveals how the mission ended, and why most Americans don’t know the story of this brave crew and record-breaking submarine.
“Triton: America’s Deep Secret” is written, directed and produced by Kevin Finch of Jukeboxer Productions. It is co-produced and edited by Jim Hall, with graphic design by Kris Burke. Veteran Discovery Channel announcer Tom Cochrun is the narrator, and David Hodge is the director of photography.
The film features interviews with members of the crew, the widow of the Triton’s captain, an employee of submarine builder Electric Boat who was present for the Triton’s launch, and more.
“We are pleased to feature ‘Triton: America’s Deep Secret’ on CPTV,” said Carol Sisco, Vice President/Station Manager for Programming & Acquisitions at CPTV. “The story of the USS Triton is not only a fascinating chapter of American history, it has many ties to the state of Connecticut, as it is linked to Connecticut’s legacy of ship and submarine building. We look forward to sharing this little-known story with our audiences.”
“At Jukeboxer Productions, we say we ‘tell untold stories,’ and the Triton’s amazing journey certainly fits that description,” said Finch. “These sailors were resourceful when confronted with one crisis after another. They were also brave and unflappable. The story of their round-the-world mission deserves to be shared where the Triton began its record-setting journey.”
About Kevin Finch
Kevin is a veteran documentary writer, producer and director. American Public Television, Discovery, TLC and other cable networks have aired his documentaries, which have also appeared internationally. Kevin recently completed “Triton: America’s Deep Secret,” an Official Selection of the 2018 Silicon Beach Film Festival in Los Angeles. His film “A Writer’s Roots: Kurt Vonnegut’s Indianapolis” aired in 66 PBS markets nationwide. A feature-length version of “Vonnegut” was an Official Selection at the 2016 Heartland Film Festival. Kevin was co-executive producer/co-writer of the national Edward R. Murrow Award-winning documentary “In the Child’s Best Interest,” which was also nominated for a national Emmy Award. Among Kevin’s other works as writer are: “G-Man: The Making of an FBI Agent,” which debuted on Discovery, “New York Emergency” (TLC), “No Place for a Child” (as script consultant/producer; MSNBC) and “Victories: The Gerald Coffee Story” (Odyssey). During Kevin’s career as a TV journalist and news director, he covered 9/11 in Washington, the bombing of Centennial Park during the Atlanta Olympics, the Senate trial of President Clinton, several political conventions, a presidential inauguration, Olympic Games in Australia and the U.S., a Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and several NCAA Final Fours. Kevin also teaches documentary production and journalism at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.
About Connecticut Public Television
Connecticut Public Television is an affiliate of PBS and a media service of Connecticut Public. A locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, Connecticut Public offers original documentaries, public affairs and educational programming. Connecticut Public Television also includes an affiliate channel: CPTV Spirit, created for the “doers,” “makers” and “adventurers” who crave more action, edgier journalism and documentaries, and more active ways to feed their curiosity. For more information, visit cptv.org.