How could two ships vanish without a trace?
August 24, 2015
“LET ME ASK you something, Mitch,” Eddie asked his friend from a bar stool at their favorite watering hole.
“I know you love special effects. What is your honest opinion of the work of Ray Harryhausen? I agree it is a loaded question.”
“Ray Harryhausen? Oh that guy,” Mitch answered. “There are people that would disagree with me, but I thought the man was a genius. The stop motion animations using models that he did for tons of movies—most in the Fifties and Sixties—were not realistic, but they were so entertaining. I can watch them and watch them, over and over again. In fact, I have a Harryhausen DVD collector’s set and two or three other movies of his, and I would like to get more. How about you, ol boy?”
“I feel the same way,” Eddie agreed. “It was something that had to be done at the time—now they look comical but we were blown away when we saw them the theaters as kids—some of them actually scared us.”
Mitch added, “You are exactly right. “Yeah, I remember that too and how the stop motion Cyclops in Harryhausen’s film, looks all around, and has an evil facial expression. Later, when they went on to more sophisticated digital special effects, they looked so much more modern and competent than Harryhausen’s stuff, but if you look at that early digital film work, it looks dated and fake now, from a few years’ perspective.”
“They have come a long way. These things have to go through technical stages, and some day effects on film will look totally natural. I am betting on it, but they still have a way to go. In an attempt to get fantasy scenes in movies, it was a process that had to be tried. Harryhausen made a science of it and took it as far as it could go at the time, with the primitive equipment he had available. What are your favorite creations he made?”
“Oh, I thought the fighting skeleton scenes with swords and shields were fabulous, and the flying monsters, Rocs and harpies,” Mitch offered.
“The Medusa, Hydra, and I love the Cyclops the best. There is one in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and there may be one in Jason and the Argonauts. The really scary one, a giant, catches a tiny man and puts him on a spit to cook. Remember how we hid our eyes in the theater during some of the Cyclops stuff?” Eddie seemed to drift away to another time.
“I will never forget it. We saw a lot of those shows together, as I recall. The Cyclops is such a mysterious creature. I think it is from Greek mythology, isn’t it? It is from a race of giants, with the characteristic of having only one eye, and that one eye is a creepy eye.”
“The Cyclops was a creepy and mysterious beast. He had a very buff torso and the fuzzy legs of a goat. There was an odd horn on the top of his head, over the one eye. Even the name ‘Cyclops’ is a bit bizarre and malevolent sounding.” Eddie described the beast as best he could.
“Ha, ha, buff torso—that is hilarious. I would never name a boat of mine ‘Cyclops,’ for sure, though.” Mitch threw out this cryptic statement to provoke the curiosity of his friend.
“A boat? Why? It seems like I have heard of several boats with that name. A name like that would conjure up images of invincibility and brute force, a plowing forward on the sight of the one eye.”
“Tunnel vision,” Mitch quipped. Yeah, it does seem that way, but the very name, Cyclops, seems hexed for some reason.”
Mitch answered, “Two large boats with that very name have disappeared without a trace.”
“You are kidding me. Without a trace? What boats?”
“A U. S. Navy supply ship disappeared without a trace in 1918, I think. It had a little over three hundred souls on board. There were no radio messages, and weather was excellent. It was going from Barbados to Norfolk and it was named the U. S. S. Cyclops. It is still one of the most puzzling disappearances in the Navy.”
“Barbados to Norfolk? Whoa…that is in the Bermuda Triangle, I think.”
“You are right, Eddie, my friend. Then, during World War II a ship was lost in the North Atlantic. It was a British ship named the Cyclops. Though both these ships with the name of Cyclops disappeared without a trace during war time, extensive and repeated examination showed that no German or other enemy submarines were anywhere near the ships when they disappeared.”
“Northern Atlantic—I will have to read up on this one. I am craving more information. It could possibly be in the Bermuda Triangle also, depending on whose boundaries one uses. This is more than bizarre. Say you remember that Charles Fort, fellow, the one who began delving into unsolved mysteries very early on?”
“Yeah, I was able to find his big book on Kindle. There is some juicy stuff in it. What about him?”
Eddie answered, “Well he made the humorous comment one time—I don’t know if you remember it. When Ambrose Bierce disappeared, then another man named Ambrose disappeared without a trace with in just a few years, he thought it might be because someone was ‘collecting Ambroses.’ Are you thinking what I am thinking?”
“Huh? Oh, yes. Someone must be collecting Cyclopes.”
“Ha, ha, exactly. Cyclopses? Clyclopes? I think you have already researched the plural, knowing you. No, not naming my new bass boat ‘Cyclops.’ Not even gonna do that, but I promise, you will get to go out on the maiden voyage of ‘Name Yet To Be Decided’ and it will be soon, if I get my promised bonus at work.”
“I wouldn’t name it The Ambrose, either—just saying.”
* * *
NOTE FROM AUTHOR: In a bizarre footnote to this story, I must add that I discovered at the Blog of Collections Department, Mariners’ Museum a mystery artifact in their collection. It is a sea chest from the U. S. S. Cyclops that was donated to the museum in 1941. The chest was found under a house in Norfolk, Virginia in 1926. Other scribbles on the box in addition to the insignia were notations that it was for storage for spare parts.
It is a big mystery, still, at the Mariners’ Museum. There is no information. Was it removed from The U.S.S. Cyclops during docking before the ship disappeared? Has it ever seen the bottom of the sea? How did it get under the house and who put it there? Was it purchased at a navy surplus store and the new owners used it for spare parts? Why was there a need to put it under a house? Was the under-the-house-area, simply a storage area, or was the chest being hidden by someone and if so, why?
The plot thickens and the mystery deepens.
Sara Marie Hogg is the author of the macabre mystery Dark Continent Continental.