Howdy, sailors! A couple weeks ago, we brought you the scoop on Simon the Celebrity Ship Cat with a promise for more ship cats to come ... and here is the story of one "Unsinkable Sam" - the supposedly "cursed" kitty.
Read on for Oscar the cat's strange sea adventures:
This is a painting of Oscar (or Oskar, depending on whether you want to be German or English about it I guess). His nickname became "Unsinkable Sam" due to some strange occurrences that led people to believe he was cursed.
He was on board the German ship Bismarck when it sank (which is pretty common in military history). Only 118 of over 2,000 crew members survived. Oscar was found floating on a board and taken in by a British ship, the HMS Cossack -- but soon after, that ship sank too.
He survived his second sinking, and again a British ship (HMS Ark Royal) picked him up floating out at sea, and they took him on board. And then that ship sank too.
After that the sailors decided this cat was cursed. They actually contacted Germany even though they were at war and said [along the general lines of], "Hey, we have your cat, we want to give him back." But the Germans had also decided he was cursed and they said no thank you, you can keep him.
So the British retired him to a home in Plymouth and changed his name to Sam--but they gave specific instructions that he was NEVER to be allowed on another naval vessel. It's one of the weirder stories in nautical cat history.
If you're near Alameda on Feb. 20th, you should probably attend Dr. Paul Koudounaris' lecture - appropriately on the USS Hornet! You can RSVP on Facebook here.