We just did an activity based on the real life events that were portrayed in the movie Abandon Ship! (1957).
First, students chose one of these roles:
1. Able-Bodied Sailor Jones: Student:_________________________
-Able-Bodied Sailor Jones: It is somewhat questionable how Jones was able to get from his assigned position below deck to the life boat when no other sailor assigned to the lower decks managed to escape from the ship. Sailor Jones is in excellent health. Not married, and no close relatives.
2. Ship’s Officer O’Maley: Mr./Ms. O’Malley: Student: ______________________
-Mr./Ms. O’Malley was the only high ranking office aboard the ship that was able to get to the lifeboat. It is the boat that s/he has been assigned to in all of the emergency practice drills. S/he is a capable officer, has navigational skills, and was well-liked by passenger and crew members aboard the ship. Excellent health.
3. Quarter Master MacDonald: Student: ___________________________
-Little is known about Quarter Master MacDonald. S/he did serve in the regular navy. Quarter Master MacDonald did suffer injuries to both hands in the explosion of the ship. At the present time, Quarter Master MacDonald can not use either hand. S/he is married and has four children in the U.S..
4. Self-Made Millionaire Douglas: Student: ___________________________
-Mr/Ms Douglas owns and manages one of the U.S.’s largest garment industrial complexes, which employs hundreds of factory workers. Health: good to excellent, but over-weight due to lack of exercise.
5. College Student Mr/Ms Parsons: Student: __________________________
-A college student who has been on a limited budget European vacation. Mr/Ms. Parsons is a grand mal epileptic. Unfortunately, while abandoning the ship, all medication was left behind. Single—age 22.
6. Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Dr. Lightfoot Student: ____________________
-Dr. Lightfoot is black and questions have been raised whether the Nobel Prize was awarded to him/her due to his/her race or his/her ability. Dr. Lightfoot is 39 years old and is in good health. Married, with two daughters who have families of their own.
7. Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, Dr. Singleton Student: ______________________
-It has been said that Dr. Singleton is about to release information to the world that will essentially bring about the solution to the world’s ecology problem. Dr. Singleton is 62 years old and is in excellent health. Dr. Singleton was born and raised in a small town in Arkansas. S/he comes from a very wealthy family. Single.
8. Football Player, Mr Small _________ _____and 9.Cheerleader, Mrs. Small_______________
-Mr. and Mrs. Small are in their late twenties. Mr. Small was a star football player at Ohio State. Mrs. Small, who also attended Ohio State, was the Homecoming Queen. Mr. Small is now a running back for a semi-pro football team in New York. Mrs. Small is eight and one-half months pregnant. Mr. Small is black and Mrs, Small is white.
10. Army Captain Thomas Student: _____________________
-Captain Thomas was recently decorated for his/her bravery and valor above and beyond the call of duty. S/he is on her/his way to the U.S. to personally receive the Medal of Honor from the President. Captain Thomas is married, has two children and is in his mid-thirties. While engaged in the action, which resulted in receiving the Medal of Honor, Captain Thomas lost her/his right leg. Other than this rather serious condition, s/he is in good health.
11. Draft Evader Samuels Student: ________________________
-Samuels left the United States two years ago in order to avoid the military draft. He then spent two years in Sweden, from which he was recently deported for dealing in illegal drugs. Samuels is in his early twenties and in good health. Single.
12. Peace Corps Volunteer Mr./Ms. Davidson Student: ___________________
-A Peace Corps Volunteer who has recently completed 2 years of work in India. Mr/Mrs Davidson has a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and is on his/her way back to Boston where s/he is to be married in two months. S/he is 27 and in excellent health.
13. Med Student Mr./Ms. Ryan Student: _________________________
-A last year medical student who has been vacationing in France. S/he is 26 years old, single, and in excellent health.
14. Elderly man, Mr. Eldridge______________ and 15.Elderly woman, Mrs. Eldridge____________
-An elderly couple, both in their late 60’s and on their way back to their native New Jersey after a one month tour of Spain. Mr. Eldridge is suffering severely from arthritis and is not capable of walking without the aid of a cane. The couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next week. They have 8 children and 29 grandchildren and are all living in New Jersey.
16. Traveling Poet Mr/Ms Carpenter:________________
-A 30 year old traveling poet in excellent health. Carpenter has never had a permanent home since s/he ran away from a New York orphanage 15 years ago. S/he spent 4 years in the Navy where s/he acquired a taste for sailing. S/he has since made several solo sailing voyages in the Caribbean. Mr/Ms. Carpenter has been divorced three times and is currently separated from his/her 4th wife/husband who resides in Paris.
Then, I told them that just like in real life, a storm was threatening the boat so they must chose 7 people to place a life preserver around and send them into the ocean.
After the group makes their decisions, I tell them the real story of what happened which was based on the movie Abandon Ship, also known as Seven Waves Away.
In the real life incident, all of those aboard turned to the highest ranking person (ship’s officer) to take command. He had a sidearm on him. When the sea got too rough, he called everyone’s attention and he chose who would go/stay. He kept only the strong, able-bodied who were strong enough to survive a long row. On the last day, they were rescued and the captain was put on trial for murder. He was declared innocent, but received a minimum sentence of only 6 months in prison because of the unique circumstances.
I also share what has happened in the activity in all my years of doing this activity in the past (I have saved the data).
For more info, see the textbook Ferris; Stein pgs 14-16.