The Sinking of the Anna May:
The trawler, Anna May with its load of fish left Hatteras Inlet on its way to Hampton, Virginia at 2:30 AM on December 9, 1931. Onboard the seventy-foot ship was Ralph Carmine, a young 22-year-old captain, and his crew. His crew consisted of his father, J.E. Carmine, Sr.; his brother, J.E. Carmine, Jr.; his brother-in-law, Rideout Lewis; and M.R. Johnson.
Even before the trawler got out of the inlet the ship's gasoline engine stopped. Over the next hour and a half, the crew took turns trying to rectify the problem. As they worked on the engine, Anna May slowly started drifting towards the Diamond Shoals. As all five crew members stood over the engine at sudden jolt and holt in their drifting was felt by them. At the same time breakers began to was filled with water as they rested on the shoal. By that time the only thing above water was the ship's mast. The men then scrambled up the mast for safety.
As described in the Star Tribune of Minnesota on December 11, 1931, "It was a frightful experience, being lashed to the rigging of the Anna Mae for over 25 hours, with seas running 50 feet high." In their rush to get up the mast, they were left stranded without distress signals or life jackets, or any other safety equipment. The constant pounding of the waves began to break up. As reported by M.S. Johnson in the article, "Things looked very bad. The waterlogged ship began to break up. Finally, it became necessary, as the ship sank on the shoals, for us to rope and lash ourselves to the rigging. Then we thought we were goners. Captain Ralph Carmine, Elmer and John Carmine, Rideout Lewis, and I prayed and our prayers were answered."
Just after dawn, a lookout at Cape Hatteras Station spotted the trawler's mast and the five men hanging on to it. The lifesavers attempted to launch a surfboat from the beach. However, due to the turbulent seas, the boat was thrown back each time. By 2:00 PM, a mist came over the Diamond Shoals, and in doing so made the remains of the ship invisible. By then, the power lifeboat had reached the Diamond Shoals but couldn't see the remains of the trawler. In fact, some newspaper headlines stated: "Fishing Trawler Is Believed Lost In Hatteras Quicksands, Entire Crew Going To Deaths."
The following morning, the skies began to clear over the Diamond Shoals. The Coast Guard continued to attempt to spot the trawler. As they continued their search, as they used their binoculars, they spotted the mast sticking out of the breakers. There they could see the five men clinging on for their lives.
Once again the Coast Guard launched their surfboat under the command of Keeper B.R. Ballance of Cape Hatteras. Another crew from the Hatteras Inlet Station under the command of Keeper Leven Midgett climbed aboard their powerboat and headed from the inlet to the open sea. By this time the crew of the Ann May had spent over thirty hours on the constantly swaying mast. They had been soaked and extremely cold by the December ocean temperature and wind. Nearly giving up hope, two boats appeared near them.
M.S. Johnson went on to say, "We were terribly cold and hungry. We were beaten about by the high waves and tossed about like rubber balls. We were exposed to rain and cold within 15 minutes after we struck the shoals. When morning came, there was an awful current running across the shoals. But the coast guard boats came in close and shot lifelines into the water near us - about 50 yards away."
Spotting the lifeboats, M.S. Johnson explained: "We hurriedly unleashed ourselves from the masts and leaped into the water, The water was warmer than the cold air. We were suddenly very comfortable. After some swimming, we caught the ropes and the boats came closer. The guardsmen pulled us to safety."
"The coast guard boats came in so close that at times their bottoms scrapped the quicksand that makes the Diamond shoals the graveyard of the Atlantic." Even with the fierce breakers, the two lifeboats anchored side by side in an effort to save the crewmen with the use of lines and lifebuoys. However, the breakers were too much. So without a second thought, Ballance and Midgett turned their boats towards the breakers and continued their efforts. "We came down once between two giant waves, sticking the bare sand," Midgett said. The larger boat commanded by Midgett moved in and picked up one man, then a second, and a third. At the same time, Ballance's surfboat, beside Midgett's boat, was able to rescue the other two men.
M.S. Johnson concluded by saying, "We were hurried to the station where they gave us first aid, food, and dry clothes. We will go home as soon as everybody is able to. I'll sure be glad to get back home. Captain Carmine, Elmer Carmine, and Ridout Lewis were in pretty bad shape, but they will be okay soon."
As a result, the following Coast Guard awards were given:
Medals of Honor
Second Class (Silver)
Medals of the Second Class (awarded when a rescue crew puts itself in jeopardy not classed above and beyond the call of duty) were awarded in these instances:
For the rescue of five members of the crew of the trawler Anna May sunk on Diamond Shoals, December 9, 1931:
Bernice B. Ballance, Keeper
Cape Hatteras Station
John R. Austin, Keeper
Big Kinnakeet Station
Erskine Oden, Surfmen
Creed's Hill Station
James M. Ketcham
Frank W. Miller
Baxter Jennette, Surfmen
Cape Hatteras Station
Lavene W. Midgett
Guy G. Quidley
Tommie G. Meekings
Summer (Kimball) Scarborough, Seamen
Hatteras Inlet Station
THE SHIP'S SPECIFICS:
|Built:||Sunk: December 9, 1931|
|Type of Vessel: Trawler||Owner:|
|Port of registry:||Dimensions:|
LOCATION OF THE SINKING:
Here is the location of the sinking: Somewhere off Cape Hatteras
LOST CREW MEMBERS :
|Last||First||Date of Death||Position||Home||Age|
SURVIVING CREW MEMBERS :
A partial listing of the surviving crew: Total Crew Lost: 0 Survivors: 5