In the race to air documentaries about nearly every major disaster that befalls the world, the Discovery Channel has generally been the lone competitor. This week, it discovered yet another network willing to dive into the fray, as the National Geographic Channel announced it would be the first to air an "exclusive" special on the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster. 


“Just announced! National Geographic Channel to air first U.S. documentary detailing the Italian cruise ship disaster moment-by-moment,” the network said, beating its chest squarely at Discovery. The bragging flies in the face of a previous announcement by Discovery saying that it would air a documentary "later this spring" about the tragedy. 


"The world has been horrified and captivated by the real life drama of the Costa Concordia disaster. With so many unanswered questions, Discovery will piece together not only the immediate events but the bigger story of what comes next in recovery and restoration," said Nancy Daniels, executive vice president of production, said in a recent statement


NatGeo's take, titled “Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories,” will be primarily from the point-of-view of those who were on the ship. 


The network beat Discovery to the story by hiring the producers of the U.K. documentary “Terror at Sea: The Sinking of the Concordia” and having them swap out the British interviews with American ones. 


“At first there was a tilt and a shake of the ship, that’s when tables and glasses started crashing,” says Massachusetts resident Amanda Warrick in the documentary. “I was kind of in shock, I remember immediately standing up and looking at my brothers. I was just kind of speechless and silent.”


The Costa Concordia, which partially sank on Jan. 13, has claimed the lives of 17 people and 15 are still missing. Efforts are currently underway to prepare for an undersea draining of the ship's fuel tanks. It is estimated that it will be months before the vessel will be salvaged and removed off the coast of Isola del Giglio.


Look for National Geographic's special on the disaster to air Feb. 12 at 7p.m.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

'Concordia' documentary to hit Nat Geo first
Network trumps Discovery Channel in airing special about the cruise liner disaster.