On August 17, 1901, a clear day, the steamship SS Alene ran down and sank the New Jersey Sandy Hook Ship’s Pilot boat James Gordon Bennett, No.7, and three pilots and the cook drowned. Pilot Fred Hopkins and Alexander Dexter were rescued by the steam pilot-boat New York. Five other crewmen were saved.
The David T. Leahy was a 19th-century two-masted pilot boat schooner, built in 1890 at the C. & R. Poillon shipyard in New York City. She was named in honor of David T. Leahy, a wealthy woolen merchant. She was said to be the fastest boat in the New York and New Jersey pilot boat fleet, and pilot boats were among the swiftest ships in the world. In 1899, the David T. Leahy was renamed the James Gordon Bennett, in honor of James Gordon Bennett, Jr., publisher of the New York Herald.
The accident happened about ten miles east of Sandy Hook. Survivors said the steamer came bearing down upon the Bennett and they were floating in the water before they realized what happened. The big steamer struck the Bennett near the rigging on the starboard side, going through like a knife and cutting her completely in two.
Russell, Charles Edward. (1929). From Sandy Hook to 62°. The Century Co., New York, N.Y.
Duffy, Francis J. (2008). Always on Station: The Story of the Sandy Hook Ship Pilots. Purple Mountain Press, Fleischmanns, N.Y.
Annual Reports of the New Jersey Commissioners of Pilotage. (1853-1900). Collection of the New Jersey State Library. Available: https://dspace.njstatelib.org/handle/10929/46261.
Featured image: Image of SS Alene adapted from Jamaican postage stamp by John R. Barrows to illustrate this story. Fair Use.