The Morro Castle was a ship that traveled between New York City and Havana, Cuba in the 1930’s. The Newport News Shipbuilding Company began construction on her in January 1929. She was christened March 1930. She had her maiden voyage from New York City to Cuba on August 23, 1930.
My grandfather, Hugh D. Turner, was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia. He was a Merchant Marine and lived in New York City in the 1930’s. I am not sure if this photo was taken in Virginia or New York, obviously it could only be taken taken between March 1930 and September 1934.
On September 8, 1934, a fire broke out on the ship. Only 6 out of 12 lifeboats were utilized. 135 passengers and crew members lost their lives that day out of 549 souls onboard. Some of the deceased were buried in Mount Prospect Cemetery in Neptune, New Jersey.
Many New Jersey residents went to the beaches to help tend to wounded and reunited lost families. The ship burned for two days. In the months following the disaster, it was an attraction for many as you could make your way in the water and touch the ship with your hand.
The ship was later taken to Baltimore where it was scrapped on March 29, 1935. This disaster undoubtedly, changed how ships were designed and fire prevention in mind.
83 years after the disaster, in 2017 here is Hugh’s great grandson poses for a photo next to the memorial placed in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Not far from the location where the ship’s hull came aground (convention hall in background).