ON THE GOOD SHIP SHIRLEY LYKES...

SS Shirley Lykes in the Welland Canal November 19th, 1978. Photograph by Dave Kohl

OR WAS IT SYLVIA ? 

July 17, 2015
 
Brian Davis - TLB Radio

A few months ago I posted an article supporting the drug-burn theory in regard to the Tate-LaBianca Murders in which I included a copy of the FBI's Charles Manson file.


As you will note, the FBI file states two shipments of "household goods" left England on August 10, 1969 by the ship SS Shirley Lykes, bound for New Orleans and was consigned to Voytek Frykowski and Roman Polanski.

The shipments were suspected of containing drugs and the Bureau Of Customs in Washington, D.C. were advised.

To be fair, the source of that information is the usual redacted "informant" name in the FBI file.

But I if the informant's information was good enough to be in the FBI file it must have some validity to it.

Or Not.

As a follow-up to curiosity, I proceeded to look into this further and ran into an immediate discrepancy albeit likely trivial.

The first thing I did was track down the ship named in the FBI file. The SS Shirley Lykes.



I found her.  Sailing under the flag of the United States, the SS Shirley Lykes was built in
1962 as part of the Lykes Brothers cargo ship line and she had some quite interesting sails.

In 1963, the Shirley Lykes was picked to drop supplies in Cuba as ransom for Fidel Castro's
war prisoners and take refugees to America:



But I could not find any record of her being in port in Southampton on August 10, 1969.

Now, that doesn't mean the Shirley Lykes wasn't in England on that date but I looked fairly intently and can not confirm except for the reference in the FBI report.

The SS Shirley Lykes seen upbound in the Welland Canal on July 7th, 1979,
is named in an FBI file to be the ship suspected of transporting narcotics on
August 10, 1969 from England to the USA.  Photograph by Dave Kohl.

However, I did find proof that a SS Sylvia Lykes was in port in Southampton on
August 10, 1969 and bound for the United States. Amazingly, someone happened to
snap a picture of her as she sat in port being prepared for the trip:


SS Sylvia Lykes at Southampton August 1969. Was this the actual ship transporting
suspected narcotics from England to the USA ? If you look closely, you might see a
set of blue steamer trunks. Photo by Gordon Dalzell

But of course, I now only have more questions and no answers.

First, which Lykes ship was it, Shirley or Sylvia ?

We know the Sylvia Lykes was there that day. Was the Shirley Lykes there as well or did the FBI report simply get the name of the ship wrong ?

Next, what happened to the ship or ships during that sail ?

According to the FBI report the Shirley Lykes wasn't due in the States until August 21-22
when she was scheduled to stop in New Orleans.

Did the ship make it to New Orleans ? Were there drugs aboard ?

I looked over the rest of the FBI report, yet, I can't find a follow-up to what happened to the Shirley or Sylvia Lykes.  If anyone does please correct me.

The SS Shirley Lykes was scrapped in 2005.

The SS Sylvia Lykes was built in 1945 by another company and bought and renamed "Sylvia" by the Lykes Brothers in 1947. She was scrapped in 1970.



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