Disney released the movie, The Finest Hours, Greatest Small Boat Rescue in History starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and Holliday Grainger.
Although the title’s hyperbole may grate with the sensibilities of the RNLI and its many supporters, reviews are describing the movie as “a remarkable story of heroism at sea” and “a movie worth seeing and a rescue well worth remembering.” In the winter of 1952, the 503-foot, Pendleton, a T2 tanker built by the Kaiser Company in 1944, sailed from Baton Rouge, Louisiana bound for Boston, Massachusetts with 122,000 barrels of kerosene/heating oil and a crew of 41.
Later, on 18 February 1952 off Cape Cod and almost at her destination, she was fighting for her life in the clutches of a Nor’easter with 60-foot seas and 70-knot winds. Just before dawn, Pendleton suddenly broke in two before an SOS could be transmitted, her stern continuing to float with 33 survivors on board, but no radio.
Three hours later, 40 miles away and in the same storm, another T2, Fort Mercer, bound for Portland, Maine, also began to break up but she managed to get off an SOS.
The USCG responded with every resource available including cutters Eastwind, Unimak, Yakutat, Achushnet, McCulloch, two 36’ motor lifeboats and numerous aircraft.
The movie is the story of one of those 36 foot motor lifeboats from the US Coast Guard Lifeboat Station at Chatham under command of Boatswains Mate First Class, Bernie Webber with a crew of three.