CROWNSVILLE — Marvin Barrash, 69, of Stevensville, has spent a lifetime thinking about his late, great-uncle, U.S. Navy Fireman, 2C Lawrence Merkel of Baltimore City, who died along with his shipmates, in early May 1918, during WWI, when his ship, the U.S.S. Cyclops, a military transport ship, sank in the Caribbean somewhere between Barbados and Puerto Rico. All 309 people aboard the ship apparently died. The Cyclops has never been found.

Since Merkel’s body, along with those of his shipmates, were never found, Barrash investigated the history of the U.S.S. Cyclops, especially it’s final assignment, attempting to bring a huge load of manganese ore from Brazil to the U.S. Manganese was considered essential for war production. The ship was scheduled to arrive with its cargo in Baltimore. There was extensive front page coverage of the ship’s disappearance in the newspapers of that time.


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