HEROES: Captain Stay Put

A dense fog hung low as the Isbrandtsen Company's 6,711-ton freighter Flying Enterprise moved away from her pier in Hamburg; her Danish-born master, Henrik Kurt Carlsen, 37, was obliged to conn her down the harbor by radar. There was nasty weather outside, and she creaked and complained as she rolled down past Dover and through the English Channel, heavy with a cargo of coffee beans, antique furniture, automobiles, U.S. mail and Rotterdam pig iron.

But until the seventh day of her New York-bound voyage, nothing suggested that she faced anything more than a routine crossing of the wintry Atlantic. Then,...

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