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The first-ever commemorative monument to the ill-fated SS Morro Castle was dedicated by the Asbury Park Historical Society last year (2009) on September 8 - the 75th anniversary of the maritime disaster.

The black marble monument, funded through donations and fundraisers, is on a grassy strip just south of Convention Hall and is the first-known monument erected to commemorate this important maritime disaster.

"An annual commemoration of this terrible tragedy will now be held every September 8th at the monument," Historical Society President Don Stine said.

The SS Morro Castle was a luxury cruis ship of the 1930s that made runs between New York City and Havana, Cuba and provided a popular vaction for tourists - both young and old.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 8th, 1934, en route from Havana to New York, the ship caught fire on the coast of the New Jersey shore and burned, killing a total of 137 passengers and crew members.

First-responders from the southern Monmouth County responded to the event and helped rescue survivors from rough seas and also bring the dead to shore.

The still-burning ship eventually beached herself near Convention Hall in Asbury Park and became a major tourist attraction until it was towed away for scrap several months later.

The devastating fire aboard the Morro Castle was a catalyst for improved shipboard fire safety. Today, the use of fire retardent materials, automatic fire doors, ship-wide fire alarms, and greater attention to fire drills and life boat procedures is a direct result of the Morro Castle disaster.

There is much material on the Morro Castle on the Internet and we urge you to learn more about this historic event.

To learn more, click here.