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you guys can bullshit all night. Me? I'm turning in below. Screw the torpedoes!" We steamed on, never far from land (the skipper planned to beach the ship in the event we were hit). The coast of Florida dragged by "500 miles long and rwo feet high." Always, the aircraft and escort ships were somewhere in sight. Nonetheless, the convoy disbanded when we reached Key West. Thereafter, individual ships were to proceed on their own ro destinations in Africa, South America, or wesrward to the southern United States. We arrived as night fell, so the skipper opted to anchor and wait for full daylight before continuing. This meant we would spend the night over a minefield set to discourage U-Boat predators. The fantail sleep experts had a field day discussing the dubiously "safe" aspects of sleeping over tons of submerged TNT versus taking our chances with enemy submarines. Our anchor clattered out, and an uncharacteristic silence fell over the ship as the engineers secured the steam plant. The pilothouse was kept dark and quiet, except for the occasional chatter of radio traffic filtering out of the wireless room. Some of the other ships from the convoy appeared to be continuing on alone rather than lose time at anchor off Key West. The night wore on uneventfully. Sudden ly, during midwatch, the radio screamed to life with a frantic SOS from one of the first impatient ships that continued wesrward through the night. Even as a rescue effort was being mounted, within a half hour, rwo more vessels broadcasted SOS's-ships traveling in the same direction we would follow just a few hours later.

For the remainder of the night, all ears were glued to the reports of fires, sinkings, and urgent rescue efforts. Well after first light, we weighed anchor and headed west, alone. The old hands who had been critical of our skipper's decision to risk the ship by anchoring in a minefield now stayed quiet. Blackie, in his characteristic way, marveled at the skipper's prescience in picking the minefield as the lesser of t-wo evils, one of which we still had to confront. With a blazing sun and glassy, clear water, no submarine would risk detection while search and rescue craft might still be roam-

ing about. By ten o'clock in the morning, we encountered the first of three broad oil slicks marking the graves of last night's victims. The rescuers were long gone, but the iridescent sea was still littered with a melange of crates, bedding, ship's gear, and lifejackets. The usually vocal crew fell strangely silent in the face of this sobering evidence. Well before rwilight, the Old Man saw to it that we were safely tucked into the harbor at Mobile, Alabama. From that day forward, we traveled only during the hours of high daylight, creeping along the shore in as shallow water as our draft permitted. The next day we ducked into the mouth of the Mississippi River, south of New Orleans. Finally, wearrived at Corpus Christi, Texas, our destination. After tugboats maneuvered us to the loading dock, the captain ordered the engines all-stop, and we prepared to take on oil. Our skipper, Frans G. M . Anderson, had, through his prudence, outwitted the U-Boat commanders

Sea History 113 - Winter 2005-2006  

10 Dangerous Voyage, by Roger Tilton • 16A French Spoliation Case: Not-Quite Justice after Never-Was War, by Jock Yellott • 26 Samuel Elio...

Sea History 113 - Winter 2005-2006  

10 Dangerous Voyage, by Roger Tilton • 16A French Spoliation Case: Not-Quite Justice after Never-Was War, by Jock Yellott • 26 Samuel Elio...