Sunday, May 15, 2016

Roy Merriam (1897-1918): Vanished in Bermuda Triangle

Roy Mirriam and his grave in Plot 14
PLOT 14

Roy Merriam was a coxswain on the U.S.S. Cyclops, which disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle on March 4, 1918.

The ship carrying 306 people including enlisted men and passengers was never heard from again and remains the single largest loss of life in U.S. Naval history not directly involving combat. As it was wartime, there was speculation the U.S.S. Cyclops was captured or sunk by a German raider or submarine, because she was carrying 10,800 long tons of manganese ore used to produce munitions, but German authorities have denied any knowledge of the vessel to this day. The ship was thought to be overloaded when she left Brazil, as her maximum capacity was 8,000 long tons.

Rear Admiral George van Deurs suggested that the loss of Cyclops may have been the result of structural failure, as her sister ships suffered from issues where the I-beams that ran the length of the ship had eroded owing to the corrosive nature of some of the cargo carried. This was observed definitively on the U.S.S. Jason, and is believed to have contributed to the sinking of another similar freighter, Chuky, which snapped in two in calm seas. The Washington Herald also reported that the ship has been traveling at a reduced speed due to a damaged engine.


Moreover, Cyclops may have hit a storm with 30–40 kn (56–74 km/h; 35–46 mph) winds. These would have resulted in waves just far enough apart to leave the bow and stern supported on the peaks of successive waves, but with the middle unsupported, resulting in extra strain on the already weakened central area.

The ship has appeared numerous times in popular culture, including in Clive Cussler's novel Cyclops, in an episode of Quantum Leap entitled "Ghost Ship," in the cartoon Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! and  in the video game Dark Void.

Although the ship disappeared on March 4, 1918, the designated date of death for every one on board is June 14, 1918. The list of the missing sailors released by the U.S. Navy stated that he was from Hickman, California in Stanislaus County. There is a Merriam Road in Hickman.

* Coxswain is the person responsible for steering the ship

1 comment:

Chris Pattillo said...

Michael,

This is a particularly interesting post.

Chris