NBC News’ Peacock Productions Heads Underwater

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NBC News’ Peacock Productions unit is teaming with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to produce a series of projects focusing on underwater expeditions. The first will be a special featuring a live telecast of the exploration of German U-boat 576, which disappeared 72 years ago and was recently discovered by NOAA in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of North Carolina.

No broadcast date or network has yet been set—though producers are targeting summer, ahead of the Atlantic hurricane season. Peacock Productions is in talks with networks within and outside of parent company NBCUniversal to air the special.

U-576 attacked a convoy of merchant ships escorted by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels on July 15, 1942, sinking the Nicaraguan freighter Bluefields. After being attacked by U.S. aircraft, U-576 sank to the seabed, where it now sits 240 feet away from the wreckage of the Bluefields. NOAA announced the discovery of U-576 and Bluefields in October 2014.

“It was great to sit down with NOAA and come to an agreement with them,” says Peacock Productions president and GM Sharon Scott. “It’s interesting, as you can imagine, a government agency and a network working together. There are lots of issues with becoming partners. We made an effort to make sure that we both have the same goals. It’s been wonderful to work with them.”

Peacock Productions specializes in live event programming. The unit has produced two specials featuring high-wire walker Nik Wallenda for Discovery Channel. The U-576 special is potentially the first of several in partnership with NOAA.

“There are, all along America’s coastlines, interesting stories, especially military stories, that will either retell a story that we didn’t know or find something that we thought we could never find,” Scott says. “I’m confident that this first collaboration will net a lot more, because they are surprisingly busy at the bottom of the sea.”