Coast Guard’s Greatest Recsue

| February 18, 2021


SS Pendleton

Nearly seventy years ago SS Pendleton, a T2-SE-A1 class oil tanker came to grief bound for Boston, Massachusetts. She encountered a powerful Nor’easter storm generating waves up to 70 feet in height, and basically broke in half. Most of the crew was able to evacuate to the stern section, which amazingly still had power. An aircraft spotted the missing bow, and the Coast Guard dispatched the 36 foot rescue craft CG-36500 to save the 33 survivors.

Eggs sends.

Rescuing the SS Pendleton: The Coast Guard’s Greatest Rescue

The four young Coast Guardsmen barely spoke. It was February 18, 1952, and they were driving from the Chatham Lifeboat Station to the fish pier across town.

Ervin Maske, Andy Fitzgerald, Richard Livesey and Bernie Webber were about to head into the fist of a New England nor’easter, the winter storm mariners fear most because of its high winds and cold. This particular nor’easter would be one for the history books: up to thirty inches of snow fell across the region between February 17 and 18.

Only a trace of daylight was left of that miserable day when the four- man crew pulled up to the pier. Their mission–to successfully rescue the SS Pendleton, a large tanker the storm had snapped in half–has become famous among maritime buffs. But before they could save the ship, the crew had to reach the ship–and that is itself an inspiring and terrifying true life story.

The crew’s orders that February day came from an inexperienced officer in charge, Daniel Cluff, who’d barely set toes in salt water: locate the 503-foot oil tanker Pendleton that had split in two off Chatham, at the elbow of Cape Cod, and was in imminent danger of sinking, possibly with human lives at stake. Under normal conditions, Coast Guard crews train for hundreds of hours before this type of mission, but that evening Bernie had orders to cobble together a crew and search for the Pendleton, so for the first time these untested partners would venture out together.

BZ Coast Guard. Read the rest of the article here: Yesterdays America

Thanks Eggs.

Category: Blue Skies, Coast Guard, Guest Link

Comments (7)

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  1. KoB says:

    BZ to the Coasties! Cool story on finding the sinking ship. Now, where is “the rest of the story” where they rescued the crew? That page seems to be missing from my copy of the book. Or did I miss something? Help me Oh Be One ‘Ed, you’re my only hope!

  2. MI Ranger says:

    I did not see any mention of awards for the four Enlisted Coastguard members. While they may have been humble, saying they were only doing their job, the Admiral did say it was their finest rescue! Heroism?