Thursday, July 1, 2010
This morning I read an interesting story in Soundings magazine. It recounted the final voyage of the S.S. Morro Castle, purportedly one of the safest ships afloat back in 1934 when it regularly transported revelers on junkets between New York and Havana. Then, on the night of September 8, a series of unfortunate events occurred that ended with the ship washing up on the New Jersey shore the next day, close to half of its 300 or so passengers dead.
First, the ship was hit by a storm. Then, while fighting the towering waves, the veteran captain clutched his chest and fell dead from a heart attack, moving a less experienced man into command.
Next, a ship’s steward discovered a group of drunken passengers entertaining themselves by flicking lit cigarettes into a trash can in one of the salons. About an hour later in that same salon, a fire broke out.
With the ship still battling through the heavy waves, the crew now had to turn to putting out the fire – but were shocked to discover that there was no water pressure, rendering the fire hoses useless.
Making matters decidedly worse, shortly afterwards the fire ignited an explosion that blew out the salon window, sucking in the air necessary to turn the blaze into an inferno.
Quickly thereafter, the raging fire burned through critical ship’s wiring, causing the electricity to short out. That, in turn, resulted in a failure in the steering, leaving the ship helplessly afloat in the turbulent seas.
With the blaze rapidly spreading, the replacement captain gave the command to abandon ship, but as there had been no lifeboat drills, the scene quickly descended into chaos and death that ended several hours later with the burned-out hulk washing ashore… turning the floating party palace into the ruined remains seen in the photo here, in the proverbial blink of an eye.
Posted by theo at 9:24 PM