The project, for the BBC science series "Bang Goes The Theory," was meant to test a concept that warships could be made from water frozen in molds, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
Geoffrey Pyke, an inventor, suggested in the 1940s that in the event of steel stocks running out it would be possible to make an unsinkable aircraft carrier using a material he called Pykrete, made of ice and wood pulp.
The mixture could be molded into any shape and, with a slow melting rate, would be perfect for seafaring vessels, he claimed.
The BBC decided to put Pyke's theory to the test by mixing 1,300 gallons of water with hemp and freezing it in a 20-foot, boat-shaped mold.
It took three weeks to freeze it in one of the United Kingdom's largest ice warehouses before it was ready for launch.
Barely an hour after being put in the water, the boat was taking on water and capsized with the cast of the television show aboard, all of whom were rescued.
Giles Harrison, director of the show, blamed the failure on a design fault allowing water to pour into the vessel sooner than expected.
"I think we've proved that Pykrete works, but it is unstable," he said.