Honoring a Heroic New Jersey Seaman

In May, 2016, the Titanic International Society honored five survivors of a famous shipping disaster buried at a cemetery in Jersey City. Today, historians credit one of them, seaman Robert John Hopkins, with saving 130 people from death during the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic on April 15, 1912.

The Titanic, a state-of-the-art passenger ship, had embarked on its maiden voyage from South Hampton, England to New York when the vessel struck an ice burg. It sank in the bitterly cold waters of the North Atlantic. Of the 2,225 people aboard, only 713 survived the maritime tragedy.

New Jersey seaman Robert John Hopkins had taken charge of Lifeboat 13 lowered from the Titanic following the collision when another fully loaded lifeboat began descending into the water overhead. He joined another seaman in using knives to cut the ropes securing his craft to the side of the Titanic and then rowed the passengers on his boat away from the sinking vessel to safety, avoiding a potentially devastating collision with the descending Lifeboat 15. His quick response enabled the passengers in both lifeboats to survive the catastrophe.

Robert John Hopkins resided in Hoboken, New Jersey following the disaster. He worked as a longshoreman for many years. He died in 1943. Almost 75 years after he passed away, the heroic seaman finally received a headstone marking his grave at Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City.