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.
The British were sick of the death and destruction suffered when four of their ships were
sunk by a German U-boat in August, 1944. They had already lost other vessels as Allies
of the United States in WWII, but this was different. They had been hoodwinked by a
When Bob Allen gave a talk before a Long Island, New York, dive club, he began with: “We owe our lives and allegiance to those who fought for and won freedom from tyranny years ago. Lest we forget, there are still reminders of the conflict and our victories over Germany and Japan. One of the memories is sunk right here off our Long Island shore, continually reminding us of her role in WWII.”
Is there a word or phrase for happiness that occurs after a tragic experience? “Every cloud has a silver lining,” “it was bitter sweet,” “comfort in time of distress,” might apply. Yet, when half of the 200 passengers and crew are lost at sea in a freak accident, it’s difficult to find happiness of any kind. But the aftermath from the tragedy of the SB Pulaski, a passenger/freight steamboat that sank off the coast of North Caroline, June, 1838, kept it in the news in a good way.
Secrets, secrets, secrets! Why is it our government and other regimes simply call an incident or encounter “classified information” when they don’t want anyone to know about it? Denise Sharp, a historian from Brookeville, Maryland, says, “Their secrets are difficult to unravel unless you have the determination to follow every little clue that might lead to a cover-up.” That’s exactly what she did when discovering that the U.S. government and its military had hushed up the sinking of a transport ship during WWII.
In early days, when ships grounded near shore or became stranded on a rocky coast, there was neither Coast Guard nor means of communication to get help. The only rescue efforts came from the U.S. Lifesaving Service if there was a station nearby. Such was the case on October 11, 1896, when the schooner E.S. Newman ran aground in distressful circumstances.
Unless you’re from Alaska or Canada, chances are you’ve never heard of the SS Princess Sophia, named the “Titanic of the West Coast.” One of the worst tragedies to occur inside Alaska and Canada, the 2,320-ton, 245-foot steel hull passenger ship sank in late October, 1918. Yet, the sinking and loss of 353 lives received little publicity.
Lake George, a 32-mile-long by two-miles-wide body of water an hour’s drive north of Albany, New York, is an unlikely spot to find the oldest intact warship in North America. But history buffs know all about the roll this radeau, (a French word for raft) played in the French and Indian War, 1755-1763.