She was built in 1944 as SS Cape Kumukaki for the United States Maritime Commission for use in World War II. The ship was sold in 1947 to the Isbrandtsen Company, and then operated in scheduled service under the name Flying Enterprise.

During the Christmas night of 1951 she's cought in a storm, and turns on one side, suffering damage to its structure. 

During the rescue operations one of the 10 passengers, Mr. Nicolai Bunjakowski drowned.

A weary man in new dry clothes, white and drawn from his ordeal, Captain Kurt Carlsen lets his eyes close for a moment at press conference at Falmouth, where he came ashore after being rescued. Below are excerpts from the captain's deposition.

Dec. 27-31: The ship cracked...all the way across the deck and down the sides. We tried to make repairs. I tried to steer south to get into the traffic lanes where we had a chance of being picked up. We were doing all right until dawn (dec 28) when another cyclonic storm came up...terrific mountains of seas. With a broken ship i could not steer. One tremendous wave knocked her off her course. Then the ship broke across the No. 3 hold. I must say that everyone without exception took the situation very calmly. No one jumped until I told them. As soon as I saw the passengers picked up by the rescue ships (image below), I went back to the radio set and I manned the radio station, contacted the rescue ship by telephone and made an accounting of all persons on board.

Jan. 1-3: The discomfort was in the angle of the ship, trying to get around the ship, especially getting on the stairways. What really made me decide to stick by the ship? I looked over the situation once more and then came to the conclusion that I could manage to bring the Enterprise into port. I could see that she would be able to stay afloat for quite some time. I felt it was my duty.

Jan. 4-7: He (Turmoil's mate Dancy) came on board. It was a tremendous relief for me to have a helping hand...a companion in my loneliness. We managed to get the wire back on the Turmoil, but it parted...and my heart almost stopped beating.

Jan. 8-10: She was a very well-built ship. I had command for over three years and crossed the Atlantic many times so I knew what she could take. The last few days's gale was too much. There were high seas going and they were too much. There was so much strain on the rope. Dancy and I agreed we would stick together and that when we had to leave we would swim together, so it would be easier to pick us up. I finally decided to abandon ship when the wheelhouse doors exploded from the pressure of air and water. I was talking on my little radio set to the captains of the Keith and Turmoil when this started to get bad, and I knew she was going. I had done my best. 

Carlsen and Dancy waved bravely when victory seemed possible they rode it out while the list, deepening slowly from 60 degrees.

She was built in 1944. On her last voyage she carried a crew of 40, a passenger list of 10 and a job lot cargo ranging from pig iron to antique furniture with coffee and valuable violins in between.

3:29 PM, Jan 10: "Enterprise flat on side", radioed Associated Press tug Englishman. Thirteen minutes earlier the destroyer Keith's radio had reported, "Carlsen and Dancy standing on starboard side of deck." Four minutes after that Keith said, "Flying Enterprise now taking water down stack." In the tense moments that followed the Keith asked where Dancy should go after rescue. Turmoil snapped, "We dont' care where he goes so long as he is safe." At 3:26 Keith said, "Carlsen and Dancy have jumped from the funnel." But it was 3:32 before Turmoil knew they were safe and said, "We have got both."

3:39 PM, Jan 10: "Flying Enterprise still afloat. Going down stern first," said Turmoil's radio. the other ships heaving heard of the men's rescue, wired "Congratulations,""Well done.""Both men," advised Turmoil, "are okay and are now in the captain's cabin changing their clothes." 

Now the bow of the Enterprise was just beginning to rise. Heavy seas were washing over the doomed ship and the tug Englishman reported a "great mass of debris from the Enterprise deck." The Turmoil observed that the ship was "completely covered in water. Cargo floating everywhere. It's just a matter of waiting."

4:01 PM, Jan 10: "Starboard bow just showing above waves. She is very brave. Keeps going down and coming up," reported Turmoil. Two minutes later Keith said, "Enterprise now 90% under water" and at 4:08 the Englishman said, "Bow of ship points almost straight into air and ship stands poised."

4:10 PM, Jan 10: "All gone," reported the tug Englishman when the ship disappeared under upflung funeral spary. Carlsen, wrapped in blankets, was already standing on Turmoil's deck, watching end of lost battle. Later he said the worst of all "was the moment the Enterprise disappeared below the sea."


photos and documentation: LIFE Magazine (US) | Zetu Harrys collection