Pictures: The ill-fated Morro Castle slides down the shipway at Newport News
Launched on March 5, 1930, the luxury liner SS Morro Castle became a prominent workhorse of the New York to Havana passenger trade, making the 1,100-plus-mile trip in only 59 hours on its maiden voyage. But four years later the popular 508-foot-long ship erupted in a deadly fire on a return trip off the New Jersey coast, resulting in the loss of more than 130 lives. Though the cause of the inferno was never determined, the tragedy prompted new federal regulations requiring more stringent fireproofing, fire control training, safety drills and officer licensing, greatly improving the safety of American merchant marine vessels. -- Mark St. John Erickson
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A floating inferno
Launched by Newport News Shipbuilding on March 5, 1930, the luxury liner SS Morro Castle became a prominent fixture of the New York to Havana passenger trade before erupting in a deadly fire off New Jersey on Sept. 8, 1934.