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The Weird Aryan History Series

Lesson #8: A Passage to Oblivion—The Disappearance of the U.S.S. Cyclops (1918)

Only God and the Sea know where the great ship has gone ... Woodrow Wilson

“I approached Captain Worley, sir, about the mess. The fish we had for dinner had not even been cleaned and smelled bad. Captain Worley was lying on his bed. He got up and put on his trousers. ‘The whole God-damned lot of yous are only a lot of God-damned sons of bitches,’ he said. 1I told him I resented being called by a name which no man born of a woman could stand. Captain Worley insisted he had never called me nor any man aboard—ever—a son of a bitch. Quartermaster Langren then asked for an apology.”

“What did he do then?”

“He then called me a son of a bitch and confined me for two days.”

Well, this was the gist of only one sailor’s testimony before the Board of Inquiry at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in August 1917. Some 50 seaman aboard the U.S.S. Cyclops signed a petition against their captain, George W. Worley, accusing him of being foul mouthed, drunk and unfit for command. This petition was started by one man, hospital apprentice Howard, who then circulated it amongst the crew.

In this petition, the crew accused Worley of being so drunk that he fell in and out of doorways and staggered about the deck. They also accused him of chasing ensign J.J. Cain around the deck with a pistol in his hand. The crew also reported that odd happenings occurred on board during their recent stay off France, re-coaling the fleet: an unauthorized signal lamp had been strung up to the foremast and connected to a cord. (The light could easily be used for night signaling, in order to give away the position of the fleet to the Germans.) One day the life boat falls were found cut, and on another day the gun scope lenses were found put in backwards. These were all acts that questioned the loyalty of some unknown hand aboard. Publicly, however, none of the crew openly accused their master of being disloyal, although the biggest rumor aboard was that he was very pro-German.

These were no light charges to bring. Worley had a good reputation with the Naval Auxiliary, reflected by the fact he commanded a key vessel vital to the refueling of the American fleet. The Cyclops was a huge 522-foot collier, only a few years old, with a displacement of 12,000 tons. Lt. Commander Worley had also been a seaman most of his life, and when war seemed imminent with Germany he was automatically enlisted with command rank into the Navy. The Naval Auxiliary was full of such captains—merchant skippers who were placed into command positions as the need arose. Sometimes their manner wasn’t the usual officer and gentleman of cadet school training ... but a commanding officer was a commanding officer, with the Navy’s trust.

Worley faced these charges with his typical humor and gruff egotism. To him Burt J. Asper, the ship’s surgeon, was to blame. It was he who had instigated Howard to stir up trouble and write that petition. During the hearings, the superior bear-like Worley stared with rustled aplomb at the two, both of whom always sat together in the audience.

Why had Asper done this? ... Because, according to Worley, he had dressed Asper down in front of the officers.

Sex, sex, sex, is all that Asper talked about.

The subject of women seemed to be on his brain all the time as he would continue to talk to all the men and officers on the ship in this manner until some of the officers on the ship were unable to stand it any longer, Worley testified.

The fallout happened when Worley decided to take his meal down in the Officers’ Mess. This subject appeared to be the whole conversation at the table. Worley testified that he told then—especially Asper— that this must be stopped and immediately I issued a written order to that effect.

It was after this that Asper and Howard were seen together in the doctors room or the afterbitt conspiring. Dr. Asper and Howard are the sponsors of the whole matter.

Now, as to Worley’s drunkenness: he reminded them that he contracted beri-beri long ago, and in the warm summer months it acted up on him. “I desire to state that this bottle contained medicine that I have used for many years and I most emphatically deny that it contained ardent spirits.” The many remedies he takes, like Iodine of Potash or Peruna of Sasparilla, taste so bad he must mix a jigger of liquor with it. If he does not take his medicine quickly, he loses his balance from the beri-beri attack. “On leaving port I always provide myself with a bottle of Port or Sherry, which is taken only for medicinal purposes.”

There, that’s why he reeked of liquor most of the time!

George Worley was cleared of the charges against him ... but it seems he was cleared with some reserve. He grumbled to his neighbor that the Navy had treated him badly over this. He told his wife that perhaps he would retire after this next voyage. He felt like he would be buried at sea.

Orders for his next voyage came quickly. Very little of the crew were changed. Burt Asper remained on board, and so did the timid ensign Cain. However, the Navy may have thought that some of the peculiar events described, such as the lamp strung out on the mast, the tampered lenses, etc., warranted the Cyclops should remain out of the war zone. The Cyclops was to prepare for sea by early January, but she was to remain in the Americas. She was to steam to Rio de Janeiro to refuel the fleet there and pick up a very valuable cargo in return—manganese ore, vital in the production of steel.

Worley was seen firmly walking aboard the gangplank of his ship, austere and isolated in demeanor, poking his walking stick along the way. The impression he gave one officer was that of ... a gruff, eccentric salt of the old school, given to carrying a cane, but possessing few other cultural attainments.

It is little surprising Worley seemed this way, considering what his crew had just brought against him after the last voyage ... though it pretty much described him how he really was. This same officer, Conrad A. Nervig, also described him as: “a very indifferent seaman and a poor, overly cautious navigator. Unfriendly and taciturn, he was generally disliked by both his officers and men.

Apparently he made no effort to change on this voyage. On January 8, 1918, the Cyclops set sail from an ice covered Norfolk Navy Yard loaded to her plimsol line with coal. On leaving Norfolk she narrowly averted a collision with the USS Survey, outward bound for the Mediterranean for patrol and anti submarine duty.

By night fall they had cleared the Virginia Capes, and headed southward, breasting the heavy winter seas with a speed and ease amazing for such a heavily loaded vessel. But by the fifth day out things began to happen. Worley blew his temper at Harvey Forbes, the Exec, and had him confined to quarters. Under arrest, no less, for disagreeing over some trivial matter. Then he directed his anger at the timid ensign Cain. However, in this instance Worley’s nemesis, Burt Asper, anticipated him and ordered Cain, apparently in perfect health, to the infirmary in order to spare him any of Worley’s unreasonable anger. There he staid for the rest of the voyage, according to Nervig.

It was from this incident that Conrad Nervig was to get to know Worley much better than any other of the crew or officers. Nervig recalled that Mr. Cain’s duty had been the mid-watch, the very lonely hours of the night and early morning. He now had to take over these duties. It was during this time that Worley came up from his cabin below the bridge and paid him the first of many visits. They were now in the tropics; the nights were balmy and calm. I was somewhat startled to see him coming up the starboard ladder dressed in long woolen underwear, a derby hat, and a cane. Nervig was worried about what he might have done wrong; yet Worley was affable and quite indifferent to Nervig’s crisp military salute “Good morning, Captain.” This was, in fact, a social call.

For some 2 hours Worley and Nervig leaned on the forward bridge railing while he regaled Nervig with stories of his home and numerous incidents of his long life at sea. He had a fund of tales, mostly humorous. “These nocturnal visits became a regular routine, and I rather enjoyed them. His uniform, if it could be so called, never varied from what he had worn on that first occasion. I have often wondered to what I owed these visits—his fondness for me or his sleeplessness.”

Six days of this saw them finally off the coast of Brazil. It was at night. The navigator and Worley now got into a disagreement over their course, the navigator insisting they overshot Bahia, their first stopover. Worley smugly over ruled him. But after hours of continued steaming without sighting land, he finally relented; and, on the 20th of January, they entered Bahia harbor from the south, having indeed overshot the harbor by 48 miles!

Finally, on the 28th, the Cyclops arrived at her destination of Rio, where she would remain for a couple of weeks unloading her coal, then loading her new cargo of manganese ore.

During the entire voyage Nervig had not been able to figure out his eccentric captain. His kindness to him in the wee hours of the morning contrasted sharply with how he treated the crew during the day. He recalled “That he liked me, I was sure, for when in Rio de Janeiro I received orders detaching me from the Cyclops, he sought to have those orders revoked. Fortunately, for me, he was unsuccessful.”

So ends Nervig’s tour of duty. He was transferred to the USS Glacier. However, he recalled that while in Rio, incidents were still occurring around the Cyclops. A man was working overboard in a launch by the propellers. Worley turned over the engines. The launch and man were drawn into the propellers and the man killed. This negligence I feel can be laid squarely at the feet of the commanding officer who, by his irrational methods of command, had thoroughly demoralized and disorganized the officers and men of the Cyclops.

Worley continued to curse his men. Within ear shot of the vessel perhaps passersby could hear “You clumsy son of a bitch!” echo out from her busy decks.

The Cyclops was now under another Naval inquiry. This time regarding her starboard high pressure engine, which had blown its cylinder. In Worley’s typical manner he assured the Navy it would be repaired, and then laid the blame on another— on Lt. Fingleton.

When her vital cargo was nearly loaded, another type of cargo was ordered aboard. These were 73 sailors and marines from the South Seas Fleet who were returning home. Three of their shipmates were escorted aboard in chains. They were: Barney De Voe, Moss Whiteside, and James Coker. They had been found guilty of charges ranging from murder to perjury surrounding their beating to death one Oscar Stewart. De Voe was on his way to serve out his 50-99 year sentence, Whiteside for 15 years, and Coker was to be hanged.

Just before they sailed, one more passenger was brought on board, a man who by appearance was so distinguished he was seemingly at the opposite end of the spectrum of these three above. He was Alfred Louis Moreau Gottschalk, none other than the U.S. Consul General at Rio. He was returning home in order to enlist in the army and fight in the war ... so he said.

The ship was now fully loaded to her plimsol line. All passengers aboard, Worley received orders and was cleared to leave Rio for Bahia on the 16th of February, now homeward bound north. All told, there were 309 persons aboard her when she left.

On the 20th of February the Cyclops entered Bahia. In Worley’s usual style of navigating, she entered from the north, not the south, as he must have overshot the harbor again. While she sat at anchor, Conrad Nervig gazed upon the little launch approaching from her across the bay. (The Glacier hat set sail for Bahia 2 days before the Cyclops.) In the launch was paymaster Ensign C.J. Page, his best friend aboard the Cyclops, who was coming on official business. When Page finished, Nervig, being officer of the deck, escorted him to the gangway. “On leaving he grasped my hand in both of his, and said very solemnly, ‘Well, good-bye, old man, and God bless you.’ I was deeply impressed with his finality, which was truly prophetic in its implication.”

Two days later Cyclops departed for Baltimore, Maryland, with no scheduled stops in between.

However, on March 3, 1918, Worley sent a surprising message: Arrived Barbados, West Indies, 1730 [5.30 P.M.] for bunker coal. Arrive Baltimore, Md, 12013 [March 13,]. Notify Office Director Naval Auxiliaries, Comdr. Train (Atl), 07004. CYCLOPS.

According to procedure in such matters Worley went straight to the U.S. Consul there, in this case Brockholst Livingston, to state his business and secure whatever aid he could from the chief US representative. This gives us the last known facts about the Cyclops. One, the meeting did not go well, but Livingston authorized Worley to receive all the supplies he said he needed. Two, the atmosphere around the Cyclops was truly unsettling; the crew grumbled about their skipper while the port busily went about meeting his demands. Three, the mood was so bad British officers would not even pay the ship the customary visits.

The next day, March 4, 1918, the Cyclops raised anchor and left as unceremoniously as she came. Supposedly, her last message after clearing port was Weather Fair. All Well.

Nothing was ever heard from her again.

When she failed to make Baltimore on the 13th, a search was begun of her entire track from Barbados. Every Naval ship in the vicinity from Cuba to Puerto Rico searched for massive debris, presupposing a German sub torpedoed her. But the Navy pondered over why no SOS had been received in such an instance. Since it was war time, however, they had made no announcement that the Cyclops was late, but had held back information until sure something had truly gone wrong.

On April 15, one month after she failed to make port, the papers were finally given the story she was overdue. On this same date a secret circular was telegraphed to respective consulates along her voyage, requesting every bit of information known.

How many theories can be drawn from this? Mutiny? Treason? Betrayal? Sabotage? Espionage? What about the illegal execution? Who could it have been and why? Worley certainly hated Asper and, apparently, Cain. Disturbances? Over what—a planned execution? A banana court at sea is hardly Navy regulations. Could Asper have caused the disturbances over Worley’s leadership? Knowing Worley’s Bligh-type of personality, could it have been mutiny? On the other hand, could it have been the crew attempting to stop Worley from betraying the ship to the Germans? Was the executed person the leader of the disturbances whatever may have been the motivation?

The Navy had to follow up every possibility with an investigation. Their task was to be Herculean, spanning a decade, several continents, and thousands of people; and to this day there is evidence to suggest almost every theory above. Yet none could ever be proven, for no trace of the Cyclops has ever been found: not one survivor; not one shred. Their results, now amassed at the National Archives in Washington, contain about 1,500 pages of interviews, investigations and testimony. It shows the vigor with which the Navy pursued an answer. It is on this material the following is based.

The Investigation

The first and foremost theory to confirm or dismiss was betrayal. Livingston’s cable had let the cat out of the bag. He noted that the crew were openly griping about their pro-German captain. (The epithet “damned Dutchman,” it should be remembered, did not mean a Hollander the way we use Dutch today, but was American slang for Deutsch—i.e. German.) Betrayal was clearly on the Consul’s mind when he noted that many Germanic names were aboard. But why would Worley be pro-German? This seemed ludicrous.

However, it was no more strange than the curious evidence the Navy had from Livingston. The fact was Worley requested all this extra stuff, perhaps suggesting a longer sea voyage than scheduled, like to Germany. Not only did he not need the stuff, as Livingston discovered, but there is the fact that messages were waiting there, even though it had been an unscheduled stop. It is this which smacks of premeditated conspiracy...But why? Why would he do this? Why was a man like Worley called a “damned Dutchman”?

Almost everywhere ONI (Office Naval Intelligence) operatives went, they found out Worley had indeed been very pro-German.  Investigation found out why: Worley had not been born an American; he was born in Germany, at Sandstadt in Hannover province in 1862 under the name Johan Frederick Wichmann.

“Oh, you mean Fred Wichmann,” was a common response to ONI operatives in San Francisco. Worley’s past had been a secret only to the Navy. In 1878, so the data goes, he had jumped ship at Frisco. In 1898 he adopted the name of Worley, stating it was from a seaman who had befriended him in his early years. Why he changed it, isn’t stated. His brothers Herman and Henry had also immigrated. They ran a bar and grocery on the Barbary Coast, sporting the Wichmann name openly, as did Worley before his name change. He ran his own liquor store in 1891 at the corners of California and Polk until he ran it into the ground. Then he tried his hand at a grocery as well, at Oak and Broderick, while being heavily involved in Captain Wichmann’s Roadhouse, a saloon near San Francisco’s Cliff House at Ocean Beach. Worley was quite a character, to be sure.

Sea life, it seems, was more enticing to him. Certainly more profitable than his land ventures ... especially for illegal cargoes. There could be any number of reasons why he changed his name, for it was at this time in his life that he became involved in some shady affairs. He became Mate on a schooner owned by the Austrian Count Rudolf Festetics de Tolna. In this capacity he was soon making trips to the Philippines, where, it is said, he smuggled opium into the U.S.

In the next decade Worley held several positions on freighters ranging from Master to Mate. While captain of a backwater tramp steamer, a bizarre murder was discovered by a crewman. Upon entering the cabin of the first mate (possibly Worley’s brother-in-law), he saw the macabre scene of his decapitated body on the bed.

Naturally, there were those who thought Worley was the culprit. However, another seaman was charged and duly sentenced for the crime. It seems certain that this sailor was not merely a fall guy for Worley. For those who knew the most about this incident believed that Worley himself was the object of the sailor’s hatred. The Mate, by a sad turn of fate, had merely been mistaken for him in the dark. This, it is possible, is the first inkling we get of his Bligh-type of personality.

As the pall of European war loomed on the horizon old sea dogs like Worley were recruited into the Naval Auxiliary Reserve Force. It was then that Worley became captain of the new Cyclops. He seems to have served well enough. There are no disparaging records on him or the Cyclops antedating the charges made against him while off France in the summer of 1917. (It should be noted, however, that America had not been at war until this time.)

Investigations certainly did prove that Worley had a strong German background (he spoke without an accent). But what did it prove? There was no Cyclops to prove where she had gone. No survivors, no debris. No German propaganda bragging about the success. The rumors about the Cyclops being seen at Kiel in Germany could not be proven during the war. So until the war was over (in November of that year) most people preferred to believe that Worley was, in fact, a traitor. Newspaper after newspaper implied as much with story after story about his pro-Germaness. His nephew, Dr. Ewald Angerman, decried this, saying that Worley was more loyal than anyone. Worley had told him, “If we sight a U-boat, I’ll make all hell smell like Limburger!”

Even if Worley betrayed the ship to the Germans, how could he have done it all alone? Livingston’s message had implied help—a number of German names were aboard. However, it is extremely unlikely they would have sold their lives for one ship, especially with all their families still in the U.S.

But by a disquieting coincidence, now enters into the picture the Cyclops most distinguished passenger, Alfred Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Within the diplomatic scene, Gottschalk had been just as hated as Worley was by his men. He was also discovered to be highly pro-German as well.

One of his colleagues, J.E. Conner, sent this to the Secret Service in May, 1918:

Conner was certainly good for his word. Investigators found him reliable and honest. Like Worley, an investigation of Gottschalk now uncovered many surprises.

Not only was Gottschalk’s popularity in Brazil immense, he was especially popular with the large German colony there; and it is certain Gottschalk handled a lot of Red Cross affairs for German ships. Could the idea to hand over the ship been Gottschalk’s to begin with? When the Cyclops arrived, he may have heard rumors about the captain’s pro-Germaness from the often grumbling crew. He might just have approached and convinced Worley to assist him in turning over the Cyclops. Would Worley have been inclined to do this considering how he had been treated by the Navy? But again comes the question, as in Worley’s case, how could Gottschalk have done it?

Turn over the ship seems unlikely ... but destroy it? In actuality there were more than enough German spies in Brazil and Argentina that could have assisted. They were desperate to find a means of encouraging the German colonies there that the war was not lost for Germany. ONI thought that the destruction of the Cyclops would have been helpful propaganda toward this end.

In any case, Gottschalk suddenly secured passage on the Cyclops, giving as his excuse, surprisingly, his wish to suddenly go back to America to enlist. What a contradiction the two must have made, with their cabins adjoining: the very distinguished Gottschalk and the crude sea dog Worley! Both of them similar only in the animosity felt for them by their colleagues... and their strong pro-German stance. Yet since no trace of the ship was found, as with the Worley angle, the question of sabotage could not be proved during the war. Investigators waited. While they waited, something provocative happened.

Gottschalk’s connection with the loss of the Cyclops has to be taken seriously for a number of reasons. His presence aboard prompted one of the most interesting and perplexing clues about the mystery. A newspaper article in a Rio newspaper announced a requiem mass for the repose of the soul of Consul Gottschalk who was lost when the Cyclops was sunk at sea. Harmless enough, it would seem. It was signed by many of the top level business men in Rio, where, it must be remembered, Gottschalk was extremely popular. There was one problem with the article: it appeared before the Cyclops was reported overdue! Nobody but the upper echelons in the Navy knew she was missing! When these prominent men (those who had attached their names) were approached they flatly denied any knowledge of it! This article was regarded as a clear tip-off that a sabotage plot had successfully been carried out—and this article was designed to announce its success to various German agents in Brazil.

Somewhat supporting this idea, there are peculiar coincidences with Worley and Gottschalk’s last acts on land. Worley had sold everything before he left Virginia, including his house; Gottschalk had left a number of personal and sentimental items in Rio that, by their size, would nevertheless have been easy to pack and take with him. Does this indicate premeditation? Why did Gottschalk leave these behind if he was never returning? Did he carry a bomb aboard with him? Had Worley been swayed by the German community to do it? Was the requiem a message from Gottschalk signaling success? Had he and Worley then escaped into obscurity ... or Germany?

Again, none of these questions could be answered during the war. But to give you an idea of how perplexing this mystery was, as soon as the war ended Admiral Robinson and his party went to Germany to examine documents and interview the German High Command. No plans were ever uncovered to shed any light on sabotage or betrayal! The Cyclops had never been in Germany, nor were any of her crew found interned in a prisoner of war camp (despite newspaper predictions). No agent ever came forward after the war and bragged (or during the war, for that matter) of their success in sabotage. No trail of Worley or Gottschalk was ever found to indicate they survived ... Worley never came back to his wife and daughter, nor did Gottschalk ever slip back into Rio to get his things. They were sent to his sister in New York.

Now that the war was over the mystery of the Cyclops was only growing more fantastic. There seemed no rational solution. The papers touted it as The Greatest Mystery of the Sea.

Quietly, behind-the-scenes, the Navy continued their methodical investigation of other possibilities, none of which seemed probable. They dismissed the idea that her cargo sank her. It had been proposed that the heavy manganese ore shifted in her holds and capsized her. Manganese was much heavier than coal so the holds, when fully loaded by weight, still had a great amount of free space in which to allow the cargo to shift. However, investigations in Rio proved it had been loaded and secured properly.

In 1920 Lt. Comm. Mahlon S. Tisdale, who had once been an officer on the Cyclops, wrote in the Naval Institute Proceedings an article: Did the Cyclops Turn Turtle? He based his theory on his experience during his brief 10 day stint as a communications officer during war games. He recalled that the forward top tanks (storage) were always left open. During rough weather he was shocked to find their hatches unsecured for sea, and even struggled to secure one with one hand while he held on with the other. Afterward, he rushed straight to the bridge. He told Worley what he had just seen. But Worley laughed at how serious he took this, and even went further to say they were always left open as the air was better for the bitumastic.

In light of Worley’s lax attitude on ship safety, Tisdale was sure that the Cyclops had capsized in rough seas. The ships of her class were known to have an uncomfortable roll in heavy weather. He recalled that on his voyage, the Cyclops was riding high because she barely had any cargo, but on her final voyage she was heavily laden. This could have made the crucial difference. If she rolled enough, water may have flooded into the top tanks and heeled the ship over all the way.

However, Tisdale’s brief stay on the ship did not qualify him to understand Worley’s sense of humor, which was very sarcastic to say the least. (In fact off France he had spread the rumor he had a lion aboard as pet. When this caught the Admiral’s ear, he was ordered to release it!)  With the Cyclops riding high, as in Tisdale’s voyage, the forward top tanks would have been full of water anyway to maintain ballast. It was irrelevant whether the hatches were secured or not. Thus Worley’s response was calculated at scaring Tisdale. The top tanks were always secured when the ship was fully laden. So much for Tisdale’s frequently touted solution.

The Navy investigated every other possible theory (except the Literary Digest’s, which suggested the Giant Squid got it). Islands were searched for large numbers of recently arrived whites presupposing them to be an escaping crew if mutiny had taken place. Records in Germany proved no mines or submarines were near the area. Coal dust mixing with manganese was thought potentially to be an explosive hazard, but it was disproven. There was, in fact, no solution.

Then in 1969, over 40 years after her loss, Conrad A. Nervig wrote in the Naval Institute Proceedings regarding her last voyage south. A new theory was offered. During heavy seas, he remembered hearing grating sounds on the ship, where pipes went through bulkheads. He also recalled the uncomfortable sight of seeing the deck undulating in these heavy seas as it conformed to the wave troughs a sign of bad contractions. In other words the ship was showing signs she was ready to split in two. He recalled he had pointed it out to Worley, who only dismissed it with a superior: Son, she’ll last as long as we do. Nervig believed she did indeed break in twain, this being aggravated by her heavier than usual cargo of manganese ore.

Conrad Nervig has been one of the most quotable persons as regards the Cyclops since his article in 1969. Both he and Tisdale’s theories essentially tried to explain her greatest mysteries: why no SOS, why no debris. Both have tried to provide us with a conventional answer to an unconventional mystery; Tisdale sudden capsizing; Nervig sudden structural failure.

Tisdale’s failure is one of not really knowing the ship or Worley. Nervig’s claim, however, poses some very peculiar problems. For one, he himself seems highly ignorant of basic facts. In his article he never mentioned the rumors of pro-Germaness, even though the crew grumbled about it constantly; it was all over the papers at the time. He never mentioned Worley’s drinking. And he also never heard of the ship touching port at Barbados. And this truly is astounding since that was plastered in every paper for months—even for years when the greatest mystery of the sea was rehashed. Forgetting these is like forgetting a scorpion in your underwear.

Nervig adds a further touch of mystery.

For the Navy made a full investigation of the Cyclops, her crew, Worley, Gottschalk, her last voyage, everything. Yet they never expressed a desire to contact Nervig to get his information. All of what he claims is conspicuous by its absence in all the documents. No other crewman who had sailed on her testified to the ship being in a state of near structural failure. And the Navy contacted every person they could; they investigated crank letters from half-wit authors who claimed to know something. They studiously probed into any crewman with a German name (which Nervig is). They even investigated a bigamous officer transferred from the Glacier to the Cyclops named Winkle. They investigated notes in bottles, and even followed up on Tisdale’s article to see if there was merit to it.

But in all the papers amassed by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Department of Justice and their joint operatives, there is no mention of an interview with Nervig nor his attempt to contact them! Yet it would seem this would be highly desirous. He claimed to have been an officer aboard, an officer whose transfer Worley tried to prevent just before the vessel vanished into oblivion. Indeed, this would all seem very desirous to investigators... But nothing exists. There are records of the Naval inquiry into the engine failure (with Worley’s own signature), but no objection on a transfer.

What Nervig claims to have happened on the voyage south cannot be rechecked. For this reason all his quotes are marked in red to alert the reader they are held in question. Yet what he claims happened in Rio can be checked. He said that Worley, in his opinion, was responsible for the death of a crewman over the side. However, there are no records for this. The Navy doesn’t usually investigate a cylinder on an engine and gloss over a sailor’s death.

Even more peculiar, there is no proof that Nervig was even aboard the Cyclops on her voyage south! This is confirmed by solid evidence. Many communiqués went back and forth, just routine, nothing significant. However, Bureau of Navigation requested officers’ records in January, when the Cyclops was still sailing south. They list all officers, ranks, etc. Even where no records were found, they still listed the names. Familiar names appear: Asper, Cain, Page, Worley, of course, Fingleton, Maguet, Hodge, Holmes, Forbes, Konstonvich, etc. Their duties are specified and so forth. However, there is no Nervig. The papers that detail this investigation 1,356 in total fail to mention any Nervig whatsoever. And the idea that he is somehow omitted by accident, that somehow he is overlooked in every page, is patently ridiculous.

It is possible, of course, that Nervig was on board the Cyclops on an earlier voyage, and after 40 years his memory mistook the events he described as happening just before her final one. If so what he says about the captain and crew adds a true light of what life was like on the ship. But the idea that Worley walked around in long johns, a derby hat and cane, is not even remotely attested to by any number of crewman, either in scuttlebutt at Rio or at Barbados ... and several on the bridge would have seen him talking to Nervig!

Investigation by the Navy did turn up that Cyclops was seen two days after she left Barbados. This is not commonly known. A British patrol boat on 2 occasions sighted her far off course, both on the 5th and 6th of March, and guided her back.

Was this Worley’s poor navigation or his desire to break course and head for Germany? If one assumes that Worley and Gottschalk did intend to betray her on their own plan, she might have been torpedoed by a German U-boat far from her course. Investigations into subs only included her official course. But if Worley was intentionally or accidentally far off course, he may have perished, ironically, by the hand of those whom he supported or was even trying to assist.

The Cyclops shall always remain a mystery. One can imagine almost any scenario. Mutiny could have happened, although unlikely, far off her course when the men realized what was happening. But, alas, a sub might enter the picture again before they could alert base. Certainly a mutiny was not successful, for there would have been survivors.

Weather can also be ruled out. The only rough weather were high winds off Cape Hatteras on the 10th of March, but they dissipated the next day. Cyclops should not have been around there yet, being due on the 13th. Her engine had been fixed, regardless of popular rumor, so she was not traveling on one engine but was making normal speed.

Among all the many theories, the phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle is a relative latecomer. Like the others, this merely tries to explain the unexplainable. But unlike them, this theory has with it the litany of many other missing ships and plains that vanished in like manner: no SOS; no debris; traveling in fair weather. The Cyclops last known place on this earth was right in the heart of the Triangle before, like so many others, she went into mystery. If there was treachery aboard, perhaps the culprits were surprised by the greater mystery of nature than that which hid in the dark maze of their own hearts.

The official Navy statement has not changed in all these years:

Since her departure [Barbados] there has been no trace of the vessel. The disappearance of this ship has been one of the most baffling mysteries in the annals of the Navy, all attempts to locate her having proved unsuccessful. Many theories have been advanced, but none that satisfactorily accounts for her disappearance. There were no enemy submarines in the western Atlantic at that time, and in December 1918 every effort was made to obtain from German sources regarding the disappearance of the vessel. Information was requested from all attachés in Europe with the result that it is definite that neither German U-boats or German mines came into the question.