Wednesday, April 01, 2020

From Flying Tigers to Flying Dutchman

 There's another plague ship at sea, and its name should ring a bell for Flying Tiger buffs. The original Zaandam was a Dutch liner that carried 10 AVG pilots from San Francisco to Singapore in the fall of 1941, along with flight instructors and ground crew. The new Zaandam, shown above, is a cruise ship of the Holland America Line, and she is cruising aimlessly this week in the Gulf of Mexico with her sister ship Rotterdam, like Wagner's "Flying Dutchman" doomed to remain at sea. Today's curse is Covid-19.

Zaandam sailed from Buenos Aires March 7 for a trip around Cape Horn to Chile, arriving one week later. By that time, the virus had hit the fan, and passengers were supposed to fly home from the far-south city of Punta Arenas. But Chile wouldn't let them come ashore. Zaandam sailed on, looking for a port. Panama graciously allowed her to transit through the fabled Canal, but not to dock. Nor did Mexico, nor the state of Florida.

Meanwhile the China-born plague descended. As of Tuesday, 4 people are dead, 9 test positive for Covid-19, and 210 have "flu-like" symptoms. The stricken vessel was able to rendezvous at sea with Rotterdam, transferring healthy passengers out while food and medical supplies were brought aboard. Both ships now desperately need a port. Let's hope that Florida's governor knows that US Navy and Marine pilots made up a majority of the Flying Tigers, that they got their wings of gold at Pensacola Naval Air Station, and that some actually went to war aboard the original Zaandam. (Louis Hoffman, KIA January 1941, was among them.) In their memory, he should let the new "Flying Dutchman" and her sister ship make port. 

Update: Trump persuaded the governor to change his mind, and the two ships will dock at Fort Lauderdale this afternoon, April 2. Blue skies! — Dan Ford


At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Cab said...

Der Fliegende Holländer for real.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Daniel Ford said...


Happily, Trump has persuaded the governor to change his mind, and Zaandam and Rotterdam will dock at Fort Lauderdale this afternoon so the passengers and crew can come ashore. (Severely sick people will stay aboard. Foreign nationals will be bussed straight to the airport.)


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