In the winter of 1952, New England was battered by the most brutal nor'easter in years. As the weather wreaked havoc on land, the freezing Atlantic became a wind-whipped zone of peril.
In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer , found themselves in the same horrifying predicament. Built with "dirty steel," and not prepared to withstand such ferocious seas, both tankers split in two, leaving the dozens of men on board utterly at the Atlantic's mercy.
Coast Guard cutters raced to the aid of those on the Fort Mercer , and when it became apparent that the halves of the Pendleton were in danger of capsizing, the Guard sent out two 36-foot lifeboats as well. These wooden boats, manned by only four seamen, were dwarfed by the enormous 70-foot seas. As the tiny rescue vessels set out from the coast of Cape Cod, the men aboard were all fully aware that they were embarking on what could easily become a suicide mission.
Not all of the 84 men caught at sea in the midst of that brutal storm survived, but considering the odds, it's a miracle, and a testament to their bravery, that any came home to tell their tales at all.
Extensive research and firsthand interviews are woven together to create an unforgettable tale of heroism, triumph, and tragedy, one that truly tells of the Coast Guard's finest hours.