Forty years ago today, the SS Poet, loaded with a cargo of corn and bound for Egypt, sailed out of Philadelphia, down the Delaware River into the Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and into oblivion.
The legend has it the Poet carried arms for Iran — part of a deal brokered for Reagan that gave President Carter an October Surprise. The crew was “disappeared.” Carter lost his deal with Iran to release the hostages. Reagan won the election.
Or, alternately, the ship sailed into the Bermuda Triangle. And perhaps drug dealers hijacked her. The official report from the Coast Guard suggested it sank when it hit the Gulf Stream and possible steep waves.
There is a much simpler version.
The SS Poet was a rust bucket run by a notorious owner. Tragically, regulators failed to crack down on a very bad system that encouraged such voyages. Had they done so, the SS Marine Electric and SS El Faro tragedies might never have happened.