The German luxury liner Columbus was on a Caribbean cruise when WWII broke out in September 1939. After depositing her mostly American passengers in Cuba, she sailed to Veracruz, Mexico. She slipped out in an unsuccessful attempt in December to run the British-French blockade. The crew spotted a British warship 450 miles east of Delaware and scuttled the Columbus to avoid its capture. The closest ship, the American cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37), rescued some 579 survivors in lifeboats and took them to Ellis Island in what became front-page news in America and Europe.

 

— Moment in History compiled by Betty Slowe and Guy Hubbs