Friday, September 30, 2011

Deep Sea Daydreams

A World War II freighter, sunk by a German U-boat, its hull full of silver, was found 2.9 miles beneath the cold Irish Sea. Fantastic stuff.

Sometimes the mysteries of the deep are all about human nature. Yet they are as compelling as the true blue deep. It was the number one emailed story on CNN and the New York Times online for many hours.

And as if our imaginations were not enough, Peter Cope, a British submariner said in the Times:

"Technology is opening up a very big door,” he said. “Think of how many ships were sunk in the First and Second World Wars. There are millions of ounces of silver — and thousands of tons of tin and copper — down there.”

It's simply fun to daydream about such things, no matter how wildly romantic it may be.

The captain of the SS Gairsoppa held the transom as the green-black sea battered his iron clad freighter. He had two options, both dismal. Low on fuel, if he stayed with his protective convoy, he would run out of fuel and be unable to control his vessel. They would be tossed around in the turbulent water like a cork in the surf.

If he broke from the convoy, he would be vulnerable to attack from German U boats, which more than likely lurked below the surface ready to strike. The Wolf Pack had already sunk hundreds of cargo vessels throughout the Atlantic, disrupting supply lines and sending many a brave merchant marine soul to the depths.

Only the Captain knew there was more at stake than lives and a cargo of tea and ore. One of his hulls was secretly filled with millions of pounds of silver, a treasure vital to the British fight against Nazi Germany.

But like a Zebra separating from the herd in a lion's territory, Captain Edwards decided to take his chances with the U boats. He had heard of ships somehow sneaking through the deadly gauntlet. The ocean was giving no signs of letting up, and he desperately needed diesel for his engines.

Far from the tranquil waterfall in India for which the boat was named, the SS Gairsoppa reluctantly broke off from the long line of military and cargo ships and set their course for Galway, Western Ireland. Only the First Mate Cooper was secretly pleased with their new destination; he knew a lass who lived in the pretty port town by the sea.

Cooper would soon regret his enthusiasm and the Captain his gamble...

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