Bizarre Facts: What Happened to the Carroll A. Deering

On January 31, 1921, the five-masted commercial schooner Carroll A. Deering was found wrecked on Diamond Shoals off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. At the time, she was returning to Newport News from a trip to Brazil. The ship was built in 1919 by the G. G. Deering Company in Bath, Maine, and was among the last wooden schooners constructed before they were extinguished by iron shipbuilding.


The Cape Lookout Lighthouse keeper reported seeing the ship two days before the wreck’s discovery. A crew member yelled that the boat had lost its anchors and continued sailing. On the morning of the 31st, the Coast Guard discovered the shipwrecked vessel, seemingly abandoned.


Four days later, the Coast Guard reached the ship after the seas had calmed down. It was apparent the vessel had been abandoned—the crew and their navigational equipment, belongings, documents, and lifeboats were all gone. Still, interestingly dinner was on the stove, and the captain’s cabin was a mess. A few months later, the ship was destroyed by dynamite so it wouldn’t be a hazard to mariners in the area. 


The mysterious circumstances of the wreck became the subject of an investigation which included a visit to Dare County in North Carolina by the FBI. Different explanations for the wreck began to materialize, including pirates, mutiny, and the effects of the ship having traveled through the Bermuda Triangle. But today, the cause remains a mystery.


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