ÂHEAVEN HELP THE SAILOR ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS.Â
Âold folk prayer
In late December 1951, laden with passengers and nearly forty metric tons of cargo, the freighter S.S. Flying Enterprise steamed westward from Europe toward America. A few days into the voyage, she hit the eye of a ferocious storm. Force 12 winds tossed men about like playthings and turned drops of freezing Atlantic foam into icy missiles. When, in the space of twenty-eight hours, the ship was slammed by two rogue wavesÂsolid walls of water more than sixty feet highÂthe impacts cracked the decks and hull almost down to the waterline, threw the vessel over on her side, and thrust all on board into terror.
Flying EnterpriseÂs captain, Kurt Carlsen, a seaman of rare ability and valor, mustered all hands to patch the cracks and then try to right the ship. When these efforts came to naught, he helped transfer, across waves forty feet high, the passengers and the entire crew to lifeboats sent from nearby ships. Then, for reasons both professional and intensely personal, and to the amazement of the world, Carlsen defied all requests and entreaties to abandon ship. Instead, for the next two weeks, he fought to bring Flying Enterprise and her cargo to port. His heroic endeavor became the worldÂs biggest news.
In a narrative as dramatic as the oceanÂs fury, acclaimed bestselling author Frank Delaney tells, for the first time, the full story of this unmatched bravery and endurance at sea. We meet the devoted family whose well-being and safety impelled Carlsen to stay with his ship. And we read of Flying EnterpriseÂs buccaneering owner, the fearless and unorthodox Hans Isbrandtsen, who played a crucial role in Kurt CarlsenÂs fate.
Drawing on historical documents and contemporary accounts and on exclusive interviews with CarlsenÂs family, Delaney opens a window into the world of the merchant marine. With deep affectionÂand respectÂfor the weather and all that goes with it, he places us in the heart of the storm, a Âbiblical tempestÂ of unimaginable power. He illuminates the bravery and ingenuity of Carlsen and the extraordinary courage that the thirty-seven-year-old captain inspired in his stalwart crew. This is a gripping, absorbing narrative that highlights one manÂs outstanding fortitude and heroic sense of duty.
ÂOne of the great sea stories of the twentieth centuryÂ [a] surefire nautical crowd-pleaser.Â
--Booklist Ã© (starred review)
ÂFrank Delaney has written a completely absorbing, thrilling and inspirational account of a disaster at sea that occasioned heroism of the first order.Â In the hands of a gifted storyteller,
the Âsimple courageÂ of the shipÂs captain and the young radio man who risked their lives to bring a mortally wounded ship to port reveals the essence and power of all true courageÂ
a stubborn devotion to the things we love.Â
ÂSenator John McCainshow more