Asbury Park, NJ The SS MORRO CASTLE Disaster, Sep 1934

Morro Castle Early in 1934 Morro Castle On Fire After the fire The wreckage Off Asbury Park NJ

Spring Lake, N.J. -- Fire, terror of the sea, swept the passenger liner Morro Castle in the storm shrouded darkness just at dawn today barely eight miles off-shore from Asbury Park, N. J.
Five and one-half hours later more than 300 of the 558 passengers and crew were unaccounted for.
"SOS -- Morro Castle afire off Scotland light ---"
The first frantic "SOS" was picked up at 3:23 EST. So swiftly did the roaring flames envelope the vessel, with its 318 sleeping passengers enroute home to New York after a 7-day excursion to Havana, that the ship soon was aflame from stem to stern.
About 250 Rescued.
Shortly after 10 A.M. EST, fewer than 250 survivors had been landed or picked up by nearby steamers racing to the rescue.
Bodies were visible in the water off the beach at Sandy Hook, N.J. Surf boats from the coast guard stations along the Jersey shore pushed through the heavy seas in search of survivors.
The blaze started apparently in the library, according to some of the members of the crew reaching shore in a life boat. It spread to the great tanks of fuel oil and enveloped the 11,620-ton liner in a pillar of flame visible along the Jersey coast.
DR. CHARLES COCHRANE of Brooklyn, who came ashore in a boatload of survivors, gave a graphic description of the scene which greeted his eyes as he turned out of his cabin in the pitch blackness of night.
"The front part of the ship was all aflame," he said.
"I do not believe any passenger who got caught in the hold or cabin at any point in the ship beyond the library had a chance of escaping."
Shipping along the Atlantic coast was stunned by import of the Morro Castle's broken "SOS," and though the liner was in the heart of the greatest shipping region in the world there was not a ship nearby.
As coast guards and police battled in heart breaking failure to beat their was in launches through the surf and raging white-capped seas, those members of the crew escaping from below managed to lower life boats from one side of the flaming vessel.
In mute and pitiful evidence of the failure of many of those aboard to reach safety, life boat after life boat landed with barely a crew to fill it. The Morro Castle's boats had a capacity of 70.
The Morro Castle left Havana Wednesday night. Last night her commander, Captain ROBERT WILMOT, died from a heart attack, leaving the vessel in command of Chief Officer W. F. WARMS when she caught fire.
First to reach the blazing ship was the Monarch of Bermuda, crack Furness liner. She took off 65 persons.
Next was Andrea F. Luckenbach, who picked up 22 persons and wirelessed ashore to have ambulances waiting.
Reaching the scene then were the President Cleveland and the City of Savannah.
No Bodies Seen.
Life boats were launched and those landing along the Jersey coast reported that they had drifted beside the blazing ship for an hour without seeing any bodies or survivors.
Then, out of the fog and rain lashing the shore in the dull grey dawn, came the pitiful thin stream of survivors in life boats -- and two who swam safely ashore.
Eighty-five survivors landed in New Jersey. Others were reported here and there but whether they were duplications was a matter of conjecture. An airplane, circling the charred hulk of the Morro Castle, reported two more boats heading inshore.
The plane, manned by a National Guard observer, also reported sighting bodies in the sea. But little time could be given early in the day to bringing in the dead. All thought was for the survivors, a terror-stricken and exhausted lot.
Those who came ashore related tales of horror. Members of the crew, until curtly checked by officers, told of futile attempts by members of the deck watch to fight the flames which turned the vessel into an inferno.

Continued

Comments

sea tales: Inferno on the Morrow Castle

Does anyone have this episode of Sea Tales! I've been looking for over 7 years for this program. My father lived in Spring Lake just a few miles away from the burning ship. My Grandfather took 16mm footage of the burning ship of Asbury Park. So I'm looking for Sea Tales: Inferno on the Morrow Castle. Thanks Mike

Letty C. Mohr - Victim - Name Correction

My relative, Letty C. Lohr, was a passenger on the Moro Castle and she lost her life on the ship because of the fire. Her name has been listed as "Letty C. Mohr" in official documents of the period, instead of her actual name, Letty C. Lohr (Letite C. Lohr). It was probably a typing error or someone misunderstood her name when she pronounced it when making reservations for the Moro Castle.

Her body was identified by her sister. She was the widow of Frederick Lohr and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Nellie Marshall - Morro Castle Victim

Nellie Marshall's body washed ashore at Sea Girt, NJ. Her husband, George Marshall, identified her body. On 13 Sep 1934, Nellie was buried in Brooklyn at the Evergreen Cemetery - Section: Bethel Slope, Lot #: 645. The next day George Marshall remarried.

I am trying to find Nellie's death certificate and obituary. Who were her parents? The more answers I find, the more questions I have!

Teri Wheeler
teri59@hotmail.com

i would love to visit museum

i would love to visit museum and look at photos and letters my fire department has one of the fire trucks that responded to the morro castle the truck is still running i just finished its restoration it was the former ocean grove fire dept truck from the washington
bea9334017@yahoo.com

pix from survivors

I would be very interested. Capt Robert Wilmot was my husbands 2nd cousin. We are trying to gather everything we can on this tragedy.

Capt Robert Wilmott Geaneoligy

He is my husbands 2nd cousin. I have his geoneoligy in ancestory.com My husbands Grandfather was Henry Wilmot who had a family feud and added a 2nd T to the end of his last name and dropped the Jr. His Grand father was Charles Wilmot I believe Charles had a brother who had a son Robert who was the father of Capt Robert Wilmot feel free to view our public ancestory.com Under Wilmott Whitesell family tree. You can probably type David Wilmott born 1968 to find it. Good luck. Let me know if its true cause we'd be very distant I am sure but still related.

Morrow Castle

I was only seven years old but I remember my Father taking me to see the Morrow Castle quite close to Convention Hall in Asbury Park. Breeches Buoys were being used to carry what we thought were passengers from the ship to Convention Hall. We watched for a long time from the Boardwalk. I was quite impressed and can still see all the action.
Nothing in this article mentions any of this. Is it possible that it was dead bodies being transferred to shore?

your book

My grandmother, Marie Byrne, was one of the people killed on this ship. I am curious about the book you refer to that is due out soon. Would you please send me the information for purchase, publisher etc. Thank you
Natalie Brown

Apologize for not having a

Apologize for not having a link...but this story isnt complete. THe radio operator who sent the distress calls was subsequently suspected of murdering (by poison) the Captain and setting the fire. He died in prison after being convicted of an arson murder in a different (not ship-related) incident years later.

Morro Castle

Hi Deb
I think I gave you all I had on the Morro Castle.
If there is something you see that you do not have, let me know?
Bud