THE CARROLL A. DEERING
A weird and unhappy ship, the five-masted schooner Carroll A. Deering was only a year old when it set out on its final voyage. At the time the only thing unusual about the ship (other than its size and multitude of sails) was the tension between its aging captain and its authoritarian first mate.
Arguments over navigation and proper crew discipline had reached a point where the captain had his first officer briefly arrested. The issue seemed to be settled when the ship left Barbados, but when she hailed the Cape Lookout lightship three weeks later neither captain nor first mate were in evidence.
The keeper reported being hailed by a man with a foreign accent, and that crew were seen “milling around” on the foredeck where they were customarily forbidden.
The foreigner (possibly one of the deckhands, who were mostly Danish immigrants) reported the loss of the ship’s anchors before drifting away, and that was the last anybody saw of the Deering’s crew: the ship itself was found a few days later run aground on Diamond Shoals, missing two lifeboats, the captain’s log, and the crew’s personal effects.
Five different departments of the American government (Commerce, Treasury, Justice, Navy, and even the State Department) launched investigations, each with their own theories that ranged from simple mutiny to piracy to rogue waves and even to a Communist plot.
An earlier raid on a Workers Party group in New York had supposedly turned up plans to capture American shipping vessels and sail them to Russia. No official conclusion has ever been reached on the case of the Carroll A. Deering, and no trace of its crew has ever been found.