Sam the Ship-Sinking Cat - The Story Of A Salty Cat

In all sorts of sea vessels, it’s not uncommon to have a ship’s cat to catch any mice or rats that might be lurking on board. One such cat, a black-and-white patched male with an unknown name, was serving onboard the German warship Bismarck in May 1941.

History buffs will know what happened next – the Bismarck was sunk in battle May 27 on its first-ever mission, killing 95 percent of its crew. Among the survivors, however, was the ship’s cat, who was found floating on a board somewhat relieved that his job of killing all the mice on the Bismarck had suddenly become incredibly easy. The cat was the only Bismarck survivor picked up by the HMS Cossack, a British destroyer. They took him onto the boat, named him Oscar and made him their ship’s cat, but had they the time machine necessary to read this article, they probably would’ve drowned him like the Dutch lady in Lethal Weapon 2.

Oscar served on the Cossack until October 1941, when a torpedo from a German submarine blew a giant ass hole in it. Another ship, the HMS Legion, tried to tow it to safety, but the weather was too rough, and the Legion had had a really long day and honestly just didn’t fucking feel like it. The Cossack was left to sink, but Oscar was found on a raft of dead bodies he had woven together [citation needed] and taken to Gibraltar. By now he had gained the new nickname “Unsinkable Sam,” since “Neptune, God of the Sea” had already been taken.

Flying in the face of superstitious reason, Sam was transferred to another British Navy vessel, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, within a couple of weeks. In November of that same year, the Ark Royal was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans. Nearly the entire crew, including an “angry but quite unharmed” Sam, was saved by the HMS Legion (the same vessel that had saved Sam from the Cossack) as well as the HMS Lightning. By this point everyone finally realized that this cat needed to stay the hell away from boats, and Sam was transferred to the governor’s office in Gibraltar to be the official mouse catcher and storm conjurer.

Sam never boarded another ship, but his career of destruction wasn’t over yet. The two boats that saved the crew of the Ark Royal, the Legion and the Lightning, would both be attacked and sunk by the Germans within the next two years. With such a track record, we imagine that the Royal Navy started making regular sacrifices to Sam in exchange for letting its ships stay afloat.

Is that what’s going on here?

I’ll. Take women and bannanas to sea and even whistle on the bridge, but keep that damn cat off my ship!