Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Steamer Ventura ~ 20 February 1918

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1918:

Around 12:30 p.m. on February 20, 1918 several lifesaving stations on the Outer Banks were notified by the Radio station in Beaufort of a steamship stranded on outer Diamond Shoals, about 12 miles SE of Cape Hatteras.
     Keepers C.R. Hooper of Big Kinnakeet and R.W. Basnett of Creeds Hill joined Keeper Gaskins at the Cape Hatteras Station's boathouse. Keeper Hooper reports:

"... Keeper Gaskins being sick and unable to perform his duty, had given up the boat in charge of Keeper Basnett, of Station #184, we proceeded at once to put the boat to a point of launching, Keeper Basnett selecting his crew from the three crews present ... the sea being rough and tide strong was unable to cross the outer bar and landed at 4:30 p.m. F.G. Gray, Surfman #2 on liberty."

At the Cape Hatteras Station three other crew members were "absent sick"; F.M. Miller #1, W.L. Barnett #2, Edward J. Midgett #6, leaving Janis Midgett #3 ... "temprary in charge".
     Because of the high seas running, none of the lifesaving crews were able to go to their assistance until about 2:00 a.m. the following morning. The crew from Hatteras Inlet Station were the first to arrive on the scene, closely followed by the crews from Big Kinnakeet, Cape Hatteras and Durants. Keeper John C. Gaskill of the Hatteras Inlet Station reports:

"... arrived at sene 8 a.m. proved to be the British steamship VENTURA, with no signs of life on board. The crew had evidently left her in her own boats as most of them were gone. She was eqiped with wireless, had one gun aft. Ship is a total loss. Surfman W.H. Austin on anuel leave."

Although the crews from four lifesaving stations were involved, for 24 hours, their efforts were to no avail. By the time the lifesavers arrived at the scene, the crew of the Ventura were probably kissing the ground in Norfolk, VA. Keeper Basnette reports:

"... Have learned since returning from ship, that the crew was rescued by the Coast Guard Cutter ONONDAGO at 9 p.m., 20th."

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