SS Flying Enterprise

The wrecked Flying Enterprise

Miramar Ship Index

The Flying Enterprise was a U.S. cargo ship, which went down after several weeks of rescue efforts in the English Channel on 10 January 1952.


The unit cargo ship of the U.S. series type C1-B was launched on January 7, 1944 as hull number 360 of the shipyard Consolidated Steel at Wilmington, California from the stack and placed in March of the same year by the U.S. government as Cape Kumukaki in service. After the war, the ship was sold in 1947 to the shipping company Isbrandtsen Company and renamed Flying Enterprise.

The Downfall

The Flying Enterprise was in December 1951 under the command of 37-year Danish Captain Hendrik Kurt Carlsen on a voyage from Hamburg to New York when she fell about 400 nautical miles off the English coast in the influence of a severe hurricane. After a fraction of the rudder stock slipped the charge of pig iron and the ship developed a heavy list of about 50 degrees. Although you tried to use an emergency rudder, but this did not result due to the strong impact side of the ship to the desired success, and finally had to stop the machine.

On December 11, then an emergency call was deposed and asked for help. The first ships that came to the Flying Enterprise to help the cargo ships Shervorne, Southland and Noordam, and the troop transports were USNS General AW Greely (T -AP 141) and the U.S. Navy cargo ship USNS Golden Eagle (T- AF 52). Over the next four days, held the exceptionally bad weather, so no attempts were made ​​abzubergen the passengers and the crew. When the storm abated somewhat after that, the captain gave the ship 's 48 crew members and ten passengers ordered to abandon ship. Volunteers of the steamer Southland took a rescue boat into the water and took the castaways on. Carlsen himself remained on his ship because he did not want to give up this. Except for the Golden Eagle -down to help the ships the Flying Enterprise left again. The Golden Eagle was replaced on New Year's Day in 1952 by the destroyer Weeks.

On January 3, 1952, the British tug Turmoil Overseas Towage and Salvage of the shipping Company reached the Flying Enterprise. Despite the bad weather of Force 9 and still a heavy swell was now trying to establish a towing connection with the distressed vessel. After several failed attempts demanded Captain Parker of the Turmoil at Carlsen to leave his ship, whereupon the latter but did not respond because he still assumed that his ship was to save her despite the now about sixty degrees list yet. It finally succeeded the first officer of Turmoil, Kenneth Dancy to jump during a maneuver on the rear of the damaged vessel. Together with Dancy asked the captain now been a towing connection. The help of the now- arrived French tug Abeille also was rejected.

On January 9, after five days under tow and about sixty miles off the port of destination Falmouth tore the towing hawser. Their recovery the following day appeared hopeless due to the back -degraded weather, whereupon Dancy and, last, Captain Carlsen the ship, which now had 65 degree list left. On the same day, the Flying Enterprise sank in position 49 ° 38 ' N, 4 ° 23' W49.633333333333 - 4.3833333333333, so at the entrance of the English Channel about halfway between Falmouth and Saint- Pol-de -Léon.

The insurance company Lloyd 's of London already decided on 11 January 1952 that Carlsen should be honored "in recognition of his courage and devotional duty " with the silver medal for meritorious services. Was awarded the silver medal on 16 January 1952. During the accident situation, and especially after the fall of Captain Carlsen was stylized by the media to the heroic figure, but what he himself was not right.

On 22 June 2001 the wreck was rediscovered at a depth of about 85 meters, and studied.

Literary processing

In the book The sinking of the Mary White of the German writer Heinz Mildner the entire scenario was modeled novelistic. The author worked in the story, the relatively close is with some changed name as the Captain Carstens, who came here from Norway, and those in the helping ships to the original, nor evidence of an additional secret cargo (declared as a collection of a geology professor ) and the causes of a captain's hesitant statements. The corresponding ideas come from contemporaneous developments and later part Publications. Apart from the pig iron were thus eleven boxes of zirconium in a separate luggage compartment, this is for the development of missiles of particular importance. It should come from the V2 development in Germany. The material was recovered in a secret dive and spent on the military ship to the United States from the sunken ship.