National Geographic : 1993 May
On Television The Ghost Ships of Guadalcanal N ovember 1942: The naval battle to control Gua dalcanal, a small volca nic island but a major strategic point in the South Pacific, lights the night skies. Exploding Japa nese shells tear into the destroyer U.S.S. Monssen-sending her to the bottom. May 1992: Robert Ballard, discoverer of Titanic and Bis marck, locates Monssen. Her 14,000-pound Number 2 gun had been blasted from its mounting and its steel shield ripped apart (top) one thunderous night in the six month land, sea, and air battle that helped reverse the tide of war in the Pacific at a cost of some 38,000 lives. Joined by survivors who give riv eting eyewitness accounts, Ballard identifies more than a dozen of the 50 Allied and Japanese ships that went to the depths of Iron Bottom Sound. Sponsored by the Society in cooperation with the U. S. Navy, Ballard's expedition is the subject of "The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal," produced by Robert Kenner. To pay respects to fallen ship mates is "why I came back here," says Bert Doughty, a gunner on Monssen (above, at right, months before going down). He had nearly died with them. Wounded and un conscious, he was rescued at day break, shortly before the ship sank. On finding wrecks like Japan's Kirishima, Ballard marvels that many "still wear camouflage, with torpedoes and depth charges at the ready. Here are horrific moments frozen in time." "The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal," May 23 on EXPLORER; also June selection of the National Geographic Video Club, U. S. and Canada (1-800-343-6610). NATIONALARCHIVES(BELOWLEFT); ODYSSEYCORPORATION Geography Champions Vie for National Title W hat continent is crossed by all lines of longi ude? What fabric, first produced in China, gave its name to an ancient trade route across Asia? What is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia? Such questions confront students of grades four through eight in the fifth annual National Geography Bee, sponsored by WORLD, the Society's magazine for children, and Amtrak. The final round-in which ten stu dents compete for the three top prizes-will be hosted by Alex Tre bek of Jeopardy! The winners will be awarded college scholarships of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000. "These contestants can put an audience of well-educated adults to shame with the depth and breadth of their knowledge," says Society President and Chairman Gilbert M. Grosvenor. By the way, the answers are Antarctica, silk, and Laos. The National Geography Bee, presented by Maryland Public Television, airs on PBS, May 26, 8p.m. ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYSAT 9 P.M. ET . NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS.