Thursday, May 24, 2012

USS Cyclops

USS Cyclops, March 5, 1918.

Photographs of the USS Cyclops courtesy of the US Navy.

Maybe the most famous Bermuda Triangle incident is the loss of the USS Cyclops, one of four Proteus-class colliers built for the Navy before World War I. Incredibly, two (!) of her sister ships, the Proteus and the Nereus, vanished in the Bermuda Triangle as well, both in 1941. Only her third sister ship, the USS Jupiter, survived any triangular tribulations, possibly because she escaped from her arduous collier duty when she was converted in 1920 into the first US aircraft carrier, the USS Langley, to be lost in a Japanese air strike on February 27, 1942.

The Cyclops displaced 19,360 tons fully loaded, was 542 feet long and 65 feet wide, drew 27 feet, 8 inches of water, could attain a speed of 15 knots, and had a complement of 236. Although a modern TI Class ultra-large crude carrier displacing 509,484 tons would make them look like toy ships, back then, these ships were among the largest freighters in the world, just as their names implied. (Some passenger liners and battleships were bigger.)

The vanishing of the Cyclops with 306 crew and passengers remains the single largest loss of life in the history of the Navy not directly involving combat. She was also the largest Navy ship to ever vanish without a trace and the first big radio-equipped ship to vanish without an SOS. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 59.)

The fact that all that can be attributed to the Bermuda Triangle gives the triangular mystics a field day. How can there possibly be a rational, naturalistic explanation for the vanishings in the Bermuda Triangle of three out of a class of four freighters, huge for their day, sturdily built to Navy specifications? While all three vanished in wartime (World War I and II respectively), the enemy did not claim or admit to have sunk any of the ships.

To the rationalist, of course, occurs the thought that possibly precisely their almost unprecedented size may have carried the seed of their doom. Whenever the technological envelope is pushed to new and hitherto unknown dimensions, those poorly understood new dimensions may give rise to design flaws in the first, experimental ships of their kind. While liners and battleships of those, and even twice those, dimensions had been built before (the Lusitania, launched in 1906, displaced 44,060 tons), they didn't have to cope with the stresses her heavy cargo exerts on a bulk carrier.

The Cyclops was completed in 1910 by William Cramp and Sons of Philadelphia. Her master was Lieutenant Commander George W. Worley of the Navy Auxiliary Service.

On January 9, 1918, she was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service and sailed to Brazilian waters to fuel warships in the South Atlantic. One of her two engines broke down, so that she was able to make only ten knots. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 60.)

For those who believe in such things, there were plenty of bad omens on the voyage south. Even if you don't, there was plenty of fodder for conspiracy theorists, too.

Leaving Norfolk Navy Yard, the Cyclops nearly collided with the USS Survey. Then the Cyclops blew a cylinder head, disabling one of her two engines. She overshot Rio de Janeiro and nearly ended up on the rocks. When the executive officer, Lieutenant Forbes, who had plotted the course correctly, challenged Worley as to why Worley had changed it so that the ship headed for the rocks, Worley placed Forbes under arrest. In port, a sailor was drowned when Worley felt an urge to turn over the engine(s) while the sailor's boat was next to the propellers. Coaling, the Cyclops scraped along the side of the cruiser USS Raleigh, causing some damage. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 100.) (Sources disagree on how many engines he could have turned over. Some say one engine remained out of order for the whole voyage, while others claim it was repaired, but later broke down again.)

Captain Worley sure had his detractors and enemies. They described him as an old salt like Captain Bligh (the fictional version), a drunkard who ruled arbitrarily and abused his crew.

Conrad A. Nervig claims he served as an ensign on the Cyclops on her last voyage south to South America and thus became the last man to leave her alive when he was transferred to the USS Glacier in Brazil. He calls Worley "a very indifferent seaman and a poor, overly cautious navigator." Nervig blames all of the above incidents on Worley's poor navigation and seamanship. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 100.)

It should, however, be noted that there are doubts whether Nervig really was on board on that voyage. As at least some of these alleged incidents appear to originate with Nervig, they should be taken with a shaker of salt unless and until they can be independently verified. Quasar claims he couldn't find Nervig on any crew documents and sounds pretty convinced he was not on board. (Quasar, p. 60.) "And the idea that he is somehow omitted by accident, that somehow he is overlooked in every page, is patently ridiculous." Yet, qua mystic, Quasar has a history of casting doubt on anyone who offers a rational explanation for a Bermuda Triangle mystery.

Among yarn spinners, Worley has become (in)-famous for parading around the ship wearing long underwear, a derby hat on his head, and a cane in his hand. Yet this apparently originates with Nervig, who claims Worley kept visiting him in this getup during Nervig's dog watches. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 99.) It would thus not be that strange for Worley to be in his underwear when he couldn't sleep and got up for a chat, in tropical nights and at a time of night when few crewmen except Nervig — the officer he trusted — and a helmsman or so would be likely to see him on the short way from his cabin below the bridge up to the bridge proper. Back then, most people would never go anywhere bareheaded, and Worley seems to have been attached to his cane, his only attribute of a gentleman.

On the voyage home, the Cyclops had to transport five convicts: two deserters and three who had been involved in a murder on the cruiser USS Pittsburgh. In addition, forty-two men from the Pittsburgh were sent Stateside on the Cyclops for reassignment. Some of them were said to be friends of those convicted in connection with the murder. Rumors were flying about the Cyclops: James Coker, the murderer from the Pittsburgh, would be transferred to the Cyclops for his execution; their friends would mutiny to free his accomplices; the crew would mutiny to free Lieutenant Forbes; Worley was going insane. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, pp. 100.)

The Cyclops sailed from Rio de Janeiro on February 16, 1918. When the Glacier was anchored in Salvador, Bahia, Nervig saw the Cyclops one last time. However, he saw the latter enter the harbor from the north, not from the south, as she should, coming from Rio. For Nervig, another example of Worley's stellar navigational skills, overshooting another harbor — "navigation as practiced aboard that vessel." (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 108.)

Then, US Consul General Alfred L.M. Gottschalk boarded the Cyclops for his trip Stateside. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 109.) He claimed he would enlist to fight in the war. Yet before the war he had been strongly pro-German, and he was of German ancestry. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 121.)

Did Gottschalk finally decide to side with America against his ancestral country? Or was he planning to sabotage the Cyclops, or even to turn her over to the Germans?

The Cyclops had orders to sail from Salvador on February 22. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 108.) Worley had orders to proceed directly to Baltimore. The Cyclops had been supplied with more than enough coal and provisions to get her there. Yet Worley stopped over in Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 3 and 4. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, pp. 111.)

What happened next, the US consul in Barbados describes in this telegram:

Secretary of State,
Washington, D. C.
April 17, 2 p. m.

Department's 15th. Confidential. Master CYCLOPS stated that required six hundred tons coal having sufficient on board to reach Bermuda. Engines very poor condition. Not sufficient funds and therefore requested payment by me. Unusually reticent. I have ascertained he took here ton fresh meat, ton flour, thousand pounds vegetables, paying therefor 775 dollars. From different sources gather the following: He had plenty of coal, alleged inferior, took coal to mix, probably he had more than fifteen hundred tons. Master alluded to by others as damned Dutchman, apparently disliked by other officers. Rumored disturbances en route hither, men confined and one executed; also had some prisoners from the fleet in Brazilian waters, one life sentence. United States Consul-General Gottschalk passenger, 231 crew exclusive of officers and passengers. Have names crew but not of all the officers and passengers. Many Germanic names appear. Number telegraphic or wireless messages addressed to master or in care of ship were delivered at this port. All telegrams for Barbadoes on file head office St. Thomas. I have to suggest scrutiny there. While not having any definite grounds I fear fate worse than sinking though possibly based on instinctive dislike felt towards master.

LIVINGSTON,
CONSUL.


If Worley had indeed executed a crewman, he was in deep trouble. On the other hand, this rumor may be based on a misunderstanding involving the aforementioned rumor that Coker, the murderer, was to be transferred to the Cyclops for his execution.

Dutchman, of course, in those days didn't mean a native of the Netherlands, but a German, just like kraut or Hun. Dutch would be a corruption of Deutsch, the German word for German.

Worley was on record with the Navy as born in San Francisco, but it later transpired that he was born Johann Friedrich Georg Wichmann in Germany and entered the US as an undocumented immigrant when he jumped ship in San Francisco in 1878. In port, he'd hang out with German merchant ship captains, even once he commanded the Cyclops. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 116.) Did Worley need the extra coal and food for a run to Germany, or at least to a rendezvous with a German ship?

Given Worley's and Gottschalk's questionable loyalties and the presence of the "many Germanic names" on the Cyclops, the Navy half expected to find her in a German port after the war. Right after the armistice, Navy investigators were sent to check the German navy files, but it was found that the Cyclops had never arrived in Germany and that no U-boats, surface raiders, or mines had been near her course. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 117.)

On the other hand, capturing the Cyclops would appear to be a secret mission, not for the German navy, but for their secret service, so that it would not appear in their navy files, but in their secret service files, which would be, like, secret. Or the Germans may have doctored their navy files. (I guess this is like the young earth fundies' argument that their god faked the fossil record.) Winer holds that if so, word of the operation would have leaked eventually, but that's not certain. In any event, there is no hard evidence either way.

Brockholst Livingston III, the consul's young son, later told how the Cyclops left the harbor steaming south, instead of north, as she should have. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 113.) This might mean everything or nothing. Mistaking south for north may have been the most egregious example yet of "navigation as practiced aboard that vessel." Or it may have been Worley's barefaced getaway, ship and all, to escape punishment for murdering that hypothetical crewman, or to hand the ship over to the Germans. Or it may have been just a compass test. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 116.)

Sources disagree on whether the Cyclops was bound for Norfolk or Baltimore. Her course on the ocean would have been the same either way, though, as both cities are located on Chesapeake Bay. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 53.)

The next day, March 5, the Cyclops was in radio contact with the liner Vestris and reported fair weather. Afterwards, the Cyclops was never seen or heard from again in this world. She was reported overdue on March 13. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 113.)

Quasar claims the Cyclops was twice encountered by a British patrol boat over the two days after leaving Barbados. Both times she was off course, and both times the patrol boat guided her back on course. (Quasar, p. 58.) If that is true, was that more evidence of "navigation as practiced aboard that vessel," or was it Worley trying to make a run for Germany?

The Office of Naval Intelligence listed the six main theories that had been suggested:

(1) The crew mutinied and absconded with the ship.
(2) Gottschalk handed the ship over to the Germans.
(3) The Cyclops was torpedoed by a U-boat.
(4) The cargo of potentially highly incendiary manganese dioxide exploded.
(5) The Cyclops sank due to excessive stresses from rolling.
(6) Worley surrendered the ship to the Germans or was part of a conspiracy to destroy her by U-boat.

However, the Navy could find no hard evidence for any of the theories. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 56.)

In 1920, Lieutenant Commander Mahlon S. Tisdale, who had served on the Cyclops and other Navy colliers, came forward to claim that the Cyclops had capsized. When he was on board the Cyclops, Tisdale had noticed that all the manhole plates on the topside tanks were open. When he reported that to Worley, the latter laughed and replied that he always left them off, in accordance with instructions from the navy yard. If the Cyclops sailed into bad weather, the cargo may have shifted, the ship heeled over, and the sea rushed into the open tanks, capsizing the ship without leaving any debris or any time for an SOS.

Commander I.I. Yates of the Norfolk Navy Yard, on the other hand, held that Worley, a known jokester, pulled Tisdale's leg. When Tisdale discovered the manhole covers were open, the Cyclops was in light condition, so it didn't matter whether they were on or off. In fact, the topside tanks were probably full of ballast water at that point. According to Yates, there were no such orders from the navy yard, and Worley wouldn't have sailed with a loaded ship with the covers open. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, pp. 56.)

Other sailors thought that the Cyclops' top-heavy superstructure of coal loading derricks may have slowed her righting herself in heavy seas, causing the cargo to shift and the ship to capsize. In fact, a high-density cargo like ore that only partly fills holds would be more likely to shift than lighter cargo that completely fills holds. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, p. 58.)

Nervig said in 1969 that he thought the ship had broken in two, as he claimed that she had been working so heavily that one could hear the sound of steel plates rubbing together and see the deck amidships rising and falling as it conformed to the contours of the sea.

This problem may have been exacerbated if she was improperly loaded by an inexperienced officer who concentrated all the cargo in the amidships holds. However, the Cyclops was apparently loaded under the personal supervision of Captain Worley and of foreman Manuel Pereira of the Brazilian Coaling Company, who had many years experience. According to Pereira, the ship could have safely carried an additional 2,000 tons, and the cargo had been properly trimmed throughout the ship. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, pp. 58.)

Winer, however, claims that the Plimsoll mark was under water and the Cyclops thus dangerously overloaded. I guess he got that from Nervig, apparently his main source. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 107.)

Captain Charles H. Zearfoss of the Munson Line offered another, but related, explanation:

I think the Cyclops was sunk by her cargo. Manganese is a very difficult cargo to handle and the collier's crew was used to handling only coal. It has a tendency to settle down, grinding away whatever is below it. The Cyclops was not a 'tween deck ship and the cargo was loaded in the lower hold. I think the end came suddenly when the bottom practically dropped out. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 118.)


According to Winer, manganese ore needs extra shoring and bracing to keep that from happening. Yet the only man aboard the Cyclops who knew how to load manganese ore was Forbes, as he had worked on Lakers, specializing in transporting heavy ores. But Forbes was still confined to quarters thanks to Worley's irrationality, so the story goes. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 106.)

The fact that the Cyclops was loaded under the personal supervision of Worley and Pereira would be irrelevant for this theory. Worley was the captain of a collier, and Pereira worked for the Brazilian Coaling Company, so they while they were qualified to load coal, they didn't necessarily have experience with manganese ore.

Winer doubts that the bottom would have dropped out of all holds at once. Yet he ignores the fact that not all holds would have to be flooded to sink the ship. I could quit my day job if I had a dollar for every ship, from the Republic and the Titanic down, that the papers claimed was nearly unsinkable on account of having x watertight compartments, of which y could be flooded for the ship to remain afloat, where nobody could imagine any possible accident damaging more than y compartments, and that then had a freak accident open y+1 compartments to the sea and went down like a stone (Republic: x=8, y=2; Titanic: x=16, y=4).

In defense of his capsizing theory, Tisdale adds:

Perhaps the cargo was braced to prevent shifting — but this would have required very strong braces, far beyond the capacity of the ship's carpenter. Unless these braces were installed at the loading port, they were probably not installed at all. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 119.)


This would be as relevant to the grinding theory. Winer is confident that Worley would have installed at least some sort of braces and that, as far as capsizing is concerned, they wouldn't all have given way at the same time, so that there would have been time for an SOS and for the lifeboats. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, p. 120.) Given how Winer's own Nervig rags Worley, that's a lot of confidence.

In 1968, a Navy diver, Dean Hawes, was looking for the lost nuclear submarine USS Scorpion. On the seafloor he found a ship that had the same strange superstructure as the Cyclops: a bridge supported on steel stilts, and uprights all along the deck that may have been her trademark derricks. The location of the wreck was 70 miles east of Norfolk, in 180 feet of water. Hawes had to surface before he could explore her, however, and his ship was driven from the scene by bad weather. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, pp. 59.)

Anyway, everybody knew that the weather had been fine, so all those theories that were predicated on bad weather and heavy seas, like capsizing or breaking apart, had to be wrong. Right?

Kusche calculated that with the speed she could get out of her one operational engine, the Cyclops would have been off Norfolk on the night of March 10. While for decades, every investigator and researcher had believed that the weather had not been bad enough to sink the Cyclops, he found out that at that time there had in fact been a bad storm off the East Coast.

On March 9, gale warnings had been issued from Maine to North Carolina by 5 PM. Wind speeds reached 60 miles an hour on the tenth, and 84 miles an hour was recorded in New York City. The gale warnings now extended south to Florida.

The steamer Amolco, 375 miles northeast of Norfolk, had to ride out the storm from noon of March 9 to the afternoon of March 11, suffering $150,000 worth of damage. One of her officers, W.J. Riley, told The Virginian-Pilot that he was sure the Cyclops had been sunk by that storm. Here, for your online perusal, is the same story from The Washington Times. ("Cyclops Lost in Great Gale, Says Mate of Amolco," The Washington Times, April 19, 1918, p. 11.)

The Navy was looking for the ship in the West Indies, where she had been heard from last, spring storms were nothing unusual, and this storm had been worse at sea than on land, so that it wasn't widely reported. News of the storm and Officer Riley's statement were quickly forgotten and never caught the attention of Navy or other investigators.

In fact, as the Navy was busy fighting World War I, there never was an official inquiry into the loss of the Cyclops. If there had been one, the weather reports would certainly have been discovered, and the loss of the Cyclops would never have been considered a mystery. (Kusche, Bermuda Triangle Mystery, pp. 60.)

I can't give all the details of Kusche's calculations and the weather reports here, so if you want more evidence, read his book.

Quasar, as always, is busy denying everything Kusche discovered.

His "meticulous research" led to his overlooking the 1,500 papers amassed on the USS Cyclops and the ten-year search and investigation, contained in such unimaginable repositories as the National Archives (boxes 1068–1070, Modern Military Branch). His desire to solve it based on his own hunches led to a statement that could make even Ripley sit up and blink: "I confidently decided that the newspapers, the Navy, and all the ships at sea had been wrong, and that there had been a storm near Norfolk that day strong enough to sink the ship." The documents at the National Archives and Records Administration make it clear there was no storm. Yet Kusche wrote: "Contrary to popular opinion, there never was an official inquiry into the disappearance… Had there been any investigation, the weather information would surely have been discovered." He claimed there was a storm on March 10 off the Virginia capes. But throughout his entire recital he never mentioned the Cyclops's ETA at Baltimore on March 13. If he had, his wishful storm of March 10 would have been exposed as long before the Cyclops was even due off the Capes.

In the final analysis the acrimony he directed at others can be returned to him. His solutions were based merely on faulty newspaper articles, elastic conclusions there from, and on the whole trying to explain away why there was no debris or SOS. Combined with his inability (or reluctance) to even travel near the Triangle, his research was no more informed than anybody who browses their Daily Blatt during their morning coffee. (Quasar, pp. 93.)


And… The acrimony falls back right where it belongs, to Quasar, the mystic and sensationalist.

The records of the Weather Bureau and the reports from the Amolco prove that there was a storm. If "documents at the National Archives and Records Administration" claim otherwise, they are mistaken. Who should know it better, the National Archives and Records Administration, or the Weather Bureau and a ship that actually was in that storm?

This, by the way, from Quasar, who faults Kusche for relying on archival records instead of hanging around the Triangle. Apparently, to Quasar the relative value of archival records and firsthand reports varies according to how useful they are in prolonging the existence of triangular mysteries.

Kusche said only that there never was an official investigation. He didn't say the Navy had no files on the case. Whether he read all the Navy files on the case, I don't know. But his claim that there was no official investigation doesn't prove he didn't. Likewise, the existence of those files doesn't mean that there was any official, systematic Navy investigation that extended to checking weather records.

Quasar's criticism of Kusche as a manic debunker, however, collapses completely with a link from the Wikipedia article on the Cyclops to a June 1929 article in Popular Science by one Alfred P. Reck that makes all of Kusche's major points and more. (Reck, Alfred P. "Strangest American Sea Mystery is Solved at Last." Popular Science (June 1929) 1517.) I can't find a citation in Kusche's book, so either both came up with the same theory independently, corroborating it, or Kusche is guilty of plagiarism, but not mania. I can't imagine a writer of Kusche's stature committing plagiarism, but find it equally hard to believe that as a research librarian he could have missed that article.

Hmm… Looking over Kusche's chapter, it looks to me like he found only the The Virginian-Pilot coverage, indeed. I guess he didn't have the benefits of the internet and Google Books. Had he had those tools back in the seventies, he'd probably have truly kicked the shit out of the Bermuda Triangle.

(By the way, Reck is a great name for a writer on a shipwreck, isn't it?) Reck, like Quasar, went through the Navy files — and reached diametrically opposite conclusions.

(1) The Cyclops was heavily overloaded. She could carry 8,000 tons of coal, but was carrying 10,835 tons of ore and 4,000 tons of water. Her maximum deadweight (combined weight of cargo, ballast water, fresh water, fuel, provisions, passengers, and crew) was 14,500 tons. She was over that from cargo and water alone, not even counting fuel and the other items.

(With coal, which would be loaded by volume, there was no way to overload her. At 8,000 tons of coal, her holds were full. But as ore is much heavier than coal, she could already be overloaded with ore when there was still empty space in her holds, something coal handlers like Worley and Pereira may not have realized, or they realized it, but being unused to loading by weight, miscalculated the resulting deadweight.)

(2) The ore cargo had very probably not been trimmed level, but left higher in the middle, just asking for it to shift in a storm. (By the way, the cargo had been placed on wood dunnage, which seems to rule out the "grinding out the bottom" theory, if the dunnage was thick enough.)

(3) According to Worley's complaint to the Navy, most of his crew consisted of raw recruits.

(4) The molasses tanker Amolco (spelled Amalco in the article) passed the Cyclops off the Virginia Capes at a distance of five miles on the evening of March 9, according to the tanker's log.

(5) According to the same log and to Weather Bureau records, there was a severe storm off the Virginia Capes on March 10. It was the heaviest storm the captain of the Amolco, C.E. Hilliard, had ever experienced. The waves almost sank his ship.

(6) The captain of the Amolco was positive that the Cyclops must have foundered in that storm: " 'If I had been carrying manganese ore,' Captain Hilliard reported, 'I could not have survived the gale.' "

(7) The storm was not widely known due to wartime restrictions on ships' weather reports.

(8) There was no SOS sent because U-boats were feared to be in the area. An SOS would have been as likely to attract the enemy as rescuers.

One slap of such a giant wave, and the Cyclops doubtless keeled over. Once on her side, the shifting cargo and the weighty superstructure would have prevented the vessel from righting herself, and she must have dropped like a huge steel weight to the bottom of the ocean. This explains why no lifeboat or even as much as a spar of the ship was ever found.


Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy at the time the Cyclops vanished, endorsed the solution offered in Reck's article.

QED. This, I think, merits a promotion of this case to "solved" status.

The so-called mystery of the Cyclops had been solved before the Bermuda Triangle was invented. Kusche solved it again, and now the latter-day mystics are trying to muddy the waters once more.

Any serious researcher independently reaches the conclusion that the Cyclops perished in that storm. Any attempt to deny that amounts to recalculating her speed so that she would have been ahead of or behind the storm, preferably both at the same time.

Weather can also be ruled out. The only rough weather were high winds off Cape Hatteras on the 10th of March, but they dissipated the next day. Cyclops should not have been around there yet, being due on the 13th. Her engine had been fixed, regardless of popular rumor, so she was not traveling on one engine but was making normal speed.


This is truly mind boggling. On the one hand, the Cyclops was behind the storm, as she was not due before the thirteenth. On the other hand, she was ahead of the storm, as her other engine had been fixed and she was now faster.

Apparently, to a true mystic a ship can be at the same time ahead of and behind a storm. As long as she is not in the storm, as that would allow for a naturalistic explanation of the "mystery" of her vanishment.

And that's ahead of and/or behind a storm that raged along the whole East Coast, not just "off the Virginia Capes" or "off the Carolinas." There were storm warnings all the way down to Florida, and Reck's article is accompanied by a map prepared by the Weather Bureau, from reports of vessels on March 10, that shows that the storm stretched all the way from Canada down to the sea off Florida, almost to The Bahamas.

Finally, Quasar apparently got the March 13 ETA from Worley. As we know by now, if Nervig can be trusted, Worley's ETAs cannot — they were based on "navigation as practiced aboard that vessel."

However, on March 3, 1918, Worley sent a surprising message: "Arrived Barbados, West Indies, 1730 [5.30 P.M.] for bunker coal. Arrive Baltimore, Md, 12013 [March 13,]. Notify Office Director Naval Auxiliaries, Comdr. Train (Atl), 07004. CYCLOPS."


I have not yet seen the Navy's files on this case, but given that Reck and Quasar both examined them and arrived at diametrically opposed conclusions, one of them has got some explaining to do. Given that Reck was a serious researcher looking for a "natural and logical" explanation and that Quasar is a mystic that at every turn uses the utmost sophistry to rule out any naturalistic explanation that would destroy one of his triangular pet mysteries, I have a hunch who has got the explaining to do. I guess the most charitable assumption is that the Navy disposed of some important files in the intervening eighty years.

But what about her two sister ships, the Proteus and the Nereus, which also vanished in the Bermuda Triangle? If three out of four ships of a class vanish, what does that suggest?


"Has it occurred to you that there are too many clues in this room?"

— Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express

Again, as we among others have seen in the case of the Mary Celeste and will see in the cases of the Carroll A. Deering and the Marine Sulphur Queen, there are too many possible naturalistic solutions, not too few. If the sensationalists and mystics want to show that there are any Martians, Atlanteans, or other paranormal powers in the Bermuda Triangle, as statistics don't bear it out, either they have to find a case where the Martians beamed up a ship under the eyes of witnesses with quality cameras, or they have to find a case for which no rational explanation is possible. Yet all their best mysteries have too many, not too few, possible rational explanations.

Thus, the mystics are out from the get-go. The question is not whether the solution is naturalistic or paranormal. The question is which naturalistic solution to the mystery in question is true: In the case of the Cyclops, some sort of treason, or some combination of overloading / careless loading / structural failure / cargo shifting / capsizing / bad weather. What is left to the mystics is to try and dismiss each reasonable explanation over a weak and sophistic objection, until they are left in ignorance, in the awe and horror of the paranormal and supernatural they crave.

6 comments:

Thanos6 said...

Bravo, superb inquiry into the entire Cyclops affair.

As to how Kusche missed the Popular Science article, it's possible he overlooked magazines, sticking to newspapers and govt. documents.

Alex said...

Thank you. :) Yes, that's likely.

dGamble34 said...

Is it at all possible that massive whirlpools spun in the areas of the disappearance took it down the the massive currents swept it away?

dGamble34 said...

Is it at all possible that massive freak whirlpools spun in the area of its disappearance took the ship down the the currents swept it away into an unknown location?

dGamble34 said...

Is it at all possible that massive whirlpools spun in the areas of the disappearance took it down the the massive currents swept it away?

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