shipwreck coverThe History Press is pleased to announce the publication of The Deadly Shipwrecks of the Powhattan & New Era on the Jersey Shore by Captain Robert F. Bennett, Susan Leigh Bennett & Commander Timothy R. Dring.

In 1854, two horrendous shipwrecks took place off the New Jersey coast. The Powhattan and the New Era were both American-flag sailing packet ships carrying hopeful European immigrants to new lives in America. The ships ran aground on the offshore sandbars along the shoreline between Sandy Hook and Little Egg Inlet, claiming the lives of many passengers and crew. The staggering casualties finally prompted calls from the public and politicians for reforms to the system for rescues that the federal government had in place. The tragedies ultimately resulted in changes that prevented countless similar deaths. This unique and gripping account offers minute-by-minute details of the deadly wrecks, their causes and their final outcomes.

About the Authors:

Captain Robert Frank Bennett, USCG retired, was born and raised on the Jersey shore in Sea Girt, New Jersey, and a descendant of three heroes of the United States Life-Saving Service. Bob graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1958 and began his career in the United States Coast Guard with his final duty station as captain of the port in Charleston, South Carolina. His many awards included two USCG Commendation medals. While in Savannah, then-Commander Bennett served as recorder on the Marine Board of Investigation into the collision of the merchant vessel African Neptune with the Sydney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick, Georgia in November 1972. Bob was also a dearly loved husband and father. He was married to Barbara Bennett for nearly fifty-one years and resided in Charleston, South Carolina, until his passing. He had two daughters, Lorri Bennett and Susan Leigh Bennett.

Susan Leigh Bennett, Captain Robert Bennett’s daughter, received her bachelor of science in biological sciences/science teaching from Clemson University and her masters plus thirty in speech and language pathology from the University of South Carolina. She resides in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her mother, Barbara Bennett, and sister, Lorri. Susan shared her father’s passion for the story of the Powhattan and New Era shipwrecks and spent countless hours discussing this book and the telling of this important story with Captain Bennett before he died. In the finalization of this book manuscript and submission for publication, a promise made to him is now a promise fulfilled.

Commander Dring retired from the United States Naval Reserve after twenty-seven years of active and reserve duty service on board destroyers and frigates as well as reserve duty in a number of assignments including composite navy/coast guard coastal warfare/harbor defense units on the United States East Coast and an Atlantic Fleet carrier battle-group staff augmentation unit. He is on the board of directors of the United States Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and on the board of trustees for the Twin Lights Historical Society. He is a regular author-contributor to the heritage association’s quarterly journal Wreck & Rescue on the topic of coastal rescue craft.