In 1900, a horrific fire swept through the New Jersey piers of Norddeutscher Lloyd starting in cotton bales then spreading to barrels of turpentine and whisky.
Within minutes it engulfed three piers and warehouses and three liners berthed there, Main, Bremen and Saale, and the Blue Riband holder Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was beginning to burn.
She was hauled out by the big new Admiral Dewey of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Co which had recently delivered coaling barges and returned when seeing smoke. Her new 900 hp engine managed to pull the flagship’s dead weight out into the Hudson to anchor before she helped extinguish the fire on her decks with hoses.
More tugs eventually beached the other liners as they burned out.
All would sail again, but over 300 had died, most trapped below decks.
Admiral Dewey was awarded the largest share of $21,449 salvage awarded to 22 tugs.