On January 24, 1935, the SS Mohawk left New York City en route to Charlestown, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla. The steel-hulled passenger ship, launched in October 1925, was 387′ long, 54′ in breadth, and listed at 5897 gross tons. About 9:00 p.m., several miles south of Sea Girt Light and about six miles offshore, the steering gear went awry and the crew switched to a manual steering system. Confusion between orders from the bridge and their execution in the steering engine room caused the Mohawk to execute a hard turn to port, at full speed, directly into the path of the Norwegian freighter Talisman. Although both ships tried to avoid the collision, it was too late. Talisman struck the Mohawk, and the latter began to take on water. Bitter cold, ice, and snow hampered the evacuation of the 160 passengers; all told, 45 lives were lost, including Captain Joseph Wood and all but one of the ship’s officers.
The Mohawk now lies just a few miles off Manasquan Inlet in about 80 feet of water. The Mohawk is one of the most dived wrecks in the Monmouth County coastal area, although it more resembles an underwater junkyard than a ship . It’s easy to get lost in the vast jumble of hull plates and twisted metal, so careful navigation is essential. Despite its popularity, this wreck still yields plenty of artifacts and lobster, and offers many interesting sights for the observant diver.
The New York Times, Saturday, January 26, 1935, P. 1.