When Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper retired from the U.S. Air Force Space Program in1970, he left behind a legacy of flight success and intrigue. The flight aspect of his career is chronicled in the long list of awards he received during his military service in the U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force and finally as an astronaut.
During the “Gusher Age,” 1900 to 1940, there appeared to be as many oil rigs in Texas as desert cactus. But what became a trillion dollar industry, with rigs around the world, the search for “black gold” created a frightening scenario when a construction worker yelled, “Fire in the well!” When an oil company’s own “roughnecks” couldn’t extinguish the blaze, word went out fast: “Call Red!” they cried.
The press called the USS Bear a “storied” ship when its discovery was announced by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) at a waterfront news conference in Boston, October, 2021. The historic U.S. Revenue Cutter foundered in 1963, 260 miles east of Boston, while being towed from Nova Scotia, Canada, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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.
German U-boats were very successful during WWI, sinking many British merchant ships with 38 submarines at the start of the war, 1914, and 334 by the end of it, 1918. The United States was slow entering the fray, but moved faster when the liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk off the Southwest coast of Ireland. Of the 1,195 fatalities, 125 were American citizens. Soon after the disaster, U-boats were sinking American merchant vessels.
Close to 300 passengers and crew, sailing aboard the clipper ship Adriatic in August, 1864, thought their voyage from London, England, to New York City would be a breeze. Little did they know that an untimely encounter with the CSS Tallahassee, a Confederate coastal raider, would bring imprisonment and loss of their ship which carried supplies for the Union cause.