Tuesday, September 4, 2012

General Morne

General Morne, October 19, 1920.

The British schooner General Morne sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, for Newfoundland on October 19, 1920, and vanished. (Spencer, p. 108.)

The winter of 192021 was one of the worst on record in the North Atlantic. (Winer, Devil's Triangle, pp. 79.) That, however, is quite irrelevant in this case, as her course was not even close to the Bermuda Triangle. If you include the General Morne among the triangular victims, you have to include every ship that ever vanished in the North Atlantic. Thus, whether a storm got her or not, the case is solved for our purposes.

The General Morne was one of a number of ships claimed by the Bermuda Triangle in late 1920 and early 1921. The record number of vanishing ships aroused suspicions that Russian reds were hijacking ships and sailing them to soviet ports. When government investigators realized how severe the storms had been, investigations ceased.

While most or all of those ships were probably really storm victims, it is of course not impossible that some ships were hijacked by communists. A correspondent of The Washington Post saw several ships with their names painted out in Vladivostok. (Group, p. 36.) However, I tend to think those may very well have been Russian ships that had their tsarist names painted out, pending renaming with, uh, "good socialist/communist" names.

Finally, those ships not sunk by storms may be victims of insurance fraud.

"The commercial morality of the world seems to have been markedly lowered as a result of the war," said one underwriter today, when asked for an explanation of the situation. "The demand for bottoms after the armistice raised shipping to unprecedented values. Insurance valuations increased correspondingly. Then the slump came and values were lowered and owners faced tremendous losses, but insurance policies continued at an artificially high mark. What we term 'moral risk' naturally increased and sinkings began. That is our notion how it all came about." ("Suggests Storms Sank Lost Mystery Ships," The New York Times, June 24, 1921.)

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