Always Another Shipwreck
by Ellsworth Boyd (View More)
The present day discovery of a 207-year-old whaling vessel appears to have renewed interest in an industry that thrived in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kerosene was yet to be invented and oil extracted from “monsters of the deep” was in demand worldwide. About 15 years before author Herman Melville introduced the world to his captivating book, Moby Dick, the Industry was a Massachusetts whaling ship that sank near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
There are lots of idioms floating around, some trite and others true, such as: “haste makes waste; fit as a fiddle, no pain no gain,” etc. The expression, “Bad things come in threes,” appeared years ago in the case of the SS Morro Castle, a ship whose story is one of the strangest in maritime history.
When a ship sinks, there’s usually lots of mass media hype that eventually calms down and becomes simple maritime history. But sometimes the vessel sails back into the limelight as disputes arise. Insurance companies for instance may claim the shipwreck from salvors or they might renege on payment to the owners. If a captain survives, he could be questioned for a bad decision which led to the tragedy.
When a British troop and cargo transport struck two mines off the Irish coast during WWI, United Kingdom Royal Navy warships converged on the site and never left. Onlookers were curious. The war was three years running and this wasn’t the first time Allied vessels had been struck by a torpedo or hit by a mine laid down by German U-boats
When American film director, producer and screen writer Steven Spielberg used the name of an authentic shipwreck in one of his award winning films, he opened a puzzling can of worms. The three time academy award winner took the name of a real shipwreck: the SS Cotopaxi and made it a focus of interest in his 1977 Sci-fi hit, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” A major subject in the plot, the ship was found in the Gobi Desert abandoned by extraterrestrials.
Hattie Wells image provided by SeaView Systems