Wednesday, July 13, 2011

USS Nina

USS Nina, March 15, 1910.

The USS Nina was an iron screw steamer built for the US Navy in 1865. She spent much of her life as a tugboat, though she also served as a torpedo boat, a torpedo boat tender, and a submarine tender.

On March 15, 1910, the navy tug, USS Nina, departed Norfolk Navy Yard. She was bound for Havana, Cuba, where she was to serve as one of the support ships during the salvage operation of the battleship Maine. The tug was seen off Savannah, Georgia, steaming south. She was never seen or heard from again. She was the first steam-powered navy vessel to disappear in the "Devil's Triangle." (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 66.)

Berlitz calls her the first steamship to vanish in the Bermuda Triangle, deservedly not counting the City of Glasgow and the City of Boston, and gives the same position. (Berlitz, Without a Trace, p. 22.)

And this is where the story begins to fall apart.

Iron screw steamer USS Nina, last sighted off the Capes of the Chesapeake in a gale. 33 drowned. 15 Mar. 1910.

As usual, the sensationalists got the position wrong and forgot to mention the storm. The course was wrong, too:

At 0630, 6 February 1910, Nina departed Norfolk for Boston and was last sighted off the Capes of the Chesapeake in the midst of a gale. She was never heard from again. The warship was declared lost and struck from the Navy List 15 March 1910, the 30 crewmen and one officer on board being listed as having died on that day. Her loss is one of the continuing mysteries of the sea.

But it is not a mystery. At least not anymore. Her wreck has been found and is a popular dive site now. And as her wreck lies off the Delaware coast, Winer and Berlitz were indeed wrong re course and position.

If a ship is seen vanishing in a storm and the wreck is later found sitting on the bottom of the sea, that is not a mystery, no how, no, sir, no way. Occam's razor.

This explains why the likes of Winer and Berlitz cannot solve any mysteries. It's not that they lack pencil-thin mustaches. It's as The Donald would say: location, location, location.

If they would spend more time in the library and less time with photos ops on their yachts on "expeditions," they'd find some wrecks and could solve some mysteries, too.

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