Flying Enterprise

Flying Enterprise

Flying Enterprise was a 6,711 ton Type C1 ship. She was built in 1944 and commissioned as the SS "Cape Kumukaki" (C1-B). She operated as a tramp steamer.

After World War II, she was sold in 1947 to Isbrandtsen Company. At this time her name was changed to the "Flying Enterprise". She was used for the next 5 years as a general cargo freighter in the North Atlantic.

In December 1951, she left England for New York with a cargo of Volkswagen cars, pig iron, grass seed, Stradivarius violinsFact|date=February 2007, paintings and an undisclosed amount of cash. During rough seas on December 25 the stacked pig iron fell over causing the ship to list to port. At some point the cars rolled causing the ship to list more. The ship cracked just rearward of the superstructure. This was a known problem with ships of this era, so the crew lashed the hull together and attempted to continue their journey. The lifeboats on the "Flying Enterprise" were lost.

The next morning, the ship started to list badly, and the decision was made to abandon ship. A distress call was issued, and the USNS "General A. W. Greely" responded. The crew and passengers were evacuated, with the loss of only 1 life. The procedure was to send a lifeboat close but not so close that it would be smashed against the listing ship. For the first rescue the crew of the lifeboat threw a rope to the ship but later jumpers had to jump in pairs and swim to the lifeboat without a rope. Sometimes passenger were swept back onto the "Flying Enterprise". However, the ship's master, Captain Henrik Kurt Carlsen, chose to remain aboard, along with the mate of the salvage tug Turmoil, Kenneth Dancy.

Captain Carlsen refused to abandon ship until it either sank or was towed to a safe harbor. Towing efforts were attempted, and succeeded in towing the ship until it was only 40 miles from Falmouth, United Kingdom. At this time, the tow line snapped. Attempts were made to continue, but the ship listed more heavily, and Captain Carlsen finally abandoned ship along with Dancy, choosing to leave via the funnel as the ship listed further. The salvage attempts were criticised as the ship might have been saved by heading for the nearest safe harbour, Cork, instead of attempting to maintain the tow all the way to Falmouth.

A public house in Cork is named the "Flying Enterprise" after the ship.

She sank on January 101952.

peculation into the Sinking, and Cargo

Immediately after the sinking, there was much speculation into why the ship sank as well as why the captain remained on board.

The most common speculation is that the ore in the forward hull was poorly loaded and therefore shifted to the side during the swells. The shifting of cargo would account for the 60 degree list to Port.

Captain Carlsen may have remained aboard in order to protect the cargo. Among the holds was a shipment of $600,000 being sent from Europe to America. There was another shipment of cash totaling over $200,000 in the mail room. Under International Salvage Laws, if the Captain had abandoned the ship with no intention of return, then any salvage company could have grabbed the ship as "Open Water Salvage" and claim 50% of the value. By remaining on board, Captain Carlsen prevented that from happening.

In 1960, the Italian salvage company Sorima conducted Salvage operations, recovering over $210,000 in cash. But because of a Confidentially Agreement, they have been unable to disclose who paid for the salvage and the exact description of the cargo recovered. Most investigations point to a consortium of Swiss Bankers being responsible for the salvage operations.

Speculations about a shipment of zirconium, intended for use in the first nuclear submarine USS "Nautilus" (SSN-571), but registered as pig iron, were discussed in a a 2002 Danish television documentary "Det Skæve skib" (English title: "The Mystery of Flying Enterprise"). [cite web | url = | format = promotional flyer for documentary | title = The Mystery of Flying Enterprise | publisher = Danish Broadcasting Corporation | date = | accessdate = 2007-11-04 ]

In 2005, the story of the "Flying Enterprise" was featured on the History Channel show "Deep Sea Detectives", which did a dive on the wreck of the ill-fated ship.


External links

* [ Photo of listing "Flying Enterprise"] from the U.S. Navy Historical Center
* [ Site about the sinking, with timeline]
* [ Story about the wreck, and underwater photographs of it today]

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