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Captain Carlsen & the 'Flying Enterprise' complied by Leigh Bishop
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The History of the Flying Enterprise January 1952
Page 1 of 2
Schoolboy Diary | Barbara F Dyer writes | song for the time

The first Man of 1952 was a Danish-born sea captain named Henrik Kurt Carlsen Master of the Flying Enterprise. As the New Year rolled in and the entire world watched, he fought alone for the life of his ship the Flying Enterprise against the fury of the treacherous January seas of the North Atlantic. For almost two weeks he struggled to save the ship, but in the end the Flying Enterprise went down. Residents of Woodbridge, NJ where Carlsen had formerly lived in Alwat Street as well as the entire world were thrilled with the courage displayed by the brave Captain clinging to his ship in hope that it could have been saved. Carlsen was finally forced to abandon her when the list increased to a fatal degree on 10 January 1952,
Kurt Carlsen
A triumphant Captain Carlsen
only about 40 miles away from Falmouth, England. The ordeal of the Flying Enterprise and Captain Carlsen was worldwide news at the time (the first BIG media event of 1952) and remains one of the great stories of endurance and courage at sea.
the ship back in 1950
Flying Enterprise in 1950
Christmas day 1951 was rather different for the crew of the Flying Enterprise as the ship headed out into the Atlantic Ocean on route for the US through a turbulent sea. By boxing day the merciless Atlantic had rose into what was the beginning of one of the worst storms in history, as winds rose to a hurricane force almost 70mph the Flying Enterprise found herself in a location as bad as the breading ground of the evil weather as that of Cape Horn.
On the bridge was a stubborn Captain Carlsen a Dane with as much salt in his veins as there was blood, a Dane who was determined to see the storm through and battle on whatever the odds. As Boxing Day passed with it brought another mightier sea than before rearing its ugly head somewhere out in the west and gathering two or three smaller seas into its bulk on a path of destruction. As Flying Enterprise battled through her groaning and creaking met her fury and the storm began to change the ship into a crippled hulk ready to be swallowed. A split had developed into her deck and so she lay over on her beam-ends. As the ingredients gathered for a major shipping disaster the world was little
aware of the circumstances Carlsen and his crew were in. Newspapers ran with tales of tree falls and land lines that had been disrupted and Flying Enterprise was little more than a column in a mere footnote. Flying Enterprise was forced by now to send an SOS however the storm had repeat ably swallowed other vessels
classic Flying Enterprise images
Listing heavily in the Atlantic
and no existing tugs where available to run to the scene of the Enterprise.This was the beginning of an epic which would capture the imagination of the world to such an extent that up-to-the-minute details of the fight would be broadcast on American radios as well as literally sweeping the fronts of newspapers globally.
The first ships to reach the SOS were the US transport vessel General Greely and the U.S.S Southland, and as both ships closed in remarkable seamanship rescued 35 passengers and crew including women and children from aboard the ill-fated ship. Captain Carlsen however declined to leave his ship while she was still afloat, this was still his ship, his responsibility, his to command and his to nurse and through a crisis as such his to decide when all hope was gone. As the Greely stood by for another
Carlsen & Dancy on the Starboard rail
Carlsen is seen on the Std
three days the hurricane tore away at the Flying Enterprise, which now lay over at an alarming list? By now the US Navy had dispatched the destroyer John W Weeks from Plymouth to the scene as well as diverting the US transport ship Golden Eagle to relieve the General Greely which had began to run low on fuel. Commander Thompson Captain of the destroyer
USS General Greely
U.S.S General Greely
on route slammed his vessel into the high seas to a point, which slightly shocked the crew and officers aboard, for seasons of one or another his orders were of significant importance? With Thompson & the John W weeks now on site the deadly dance of the destroyer and the Flying Enterprise against the huge seas began as Thompson was determined to aid Carlsen with food and supplies. To the experienced salvage and towage team it was just a matter of time before Flying Enterprise would take her final dive. The destroyer would be on hand to rescue Kurt Carlsen and the world would admire the skill and seamanship before moving onto the next current affair. As the weather moderated Flying Enterprise remained afloat changing the mind of the experienced commercial & salvage world. From somewhere she had got a reserve of bouancy- and a spiritual pugnacity-, which were now keeping her afloat as well as the interest in her around the globe. Carlsen now living with life at 60 degrees was tiring, his energy drained and in great need of assistance.

2nd officer Harry Davis of the Turmoil fires a line across to the Flying Enterprise Enterprise.
As 1951 came to a close the crowds in Glasgow and London joined hands singing the old out and the new in, a few hundred miles to the west a Homeric fight was to begin and the arena was beginning to clear. The nearest visualised tug to the incident was now involved in trouble and another by the name of Turmoil was making her way into Falmouth with the stricken Mactra another victim of the storm in question. So as Flying Enterprise wallowed and drifted Turmoil completed one job lay in port until daylight before making way to Flying Enterprise.
Twelve precious hours had passed by, twelve hours for which Captain Carlsen & Dan Parker of the Turmoil would later have bartered at least a fragment of their immortal souls. Turmoil sailed for the Flying Enterprise on 2nd Jan 1952 and as far as Fleet St and its newspapers was concerned the ships company and passengers had been rescued, and as the ship lay on her beam ends the fate of her Captain was not known. In short amongst rumours nobody quite new where he was other than of course those in the amidst of the drama that was unfolding out in the Atlantic.

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