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“The Finest Hours,” is a riveting film that delves into the dramatic events of a real-life rescue mission that unfolded in February 1952. It’s a nod to the tremendous odds and incredible bravery that our servicemen and specifically the Coast Guard evince.

Based on a true story, the movie showcases the bravery and unwavering determination of a group of Coast Guard rescuers who faced treacherous conditions to save the lives of 33 sailors stranded at sea. Against all odds, their extraordinary efforts resulted in what is now hailed as one of the most remarkable small-boat rescues in naval history.

A Deadly Storm and the Pendleton Disaster

The setting for this gripping rescue was the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, during a violent storm. Two oil tankers, hastily constructed during World War II with inferior materials, fell victim to the unforgiving elements. 

One of the ill-fated tankers, the Pendleton, found itself perilously close to the treacherous Chatham shoals. While the captain and seven crew members in the bow tragically perished, 33 sailors trapped in the aft section fought to survive. For a brief period, they managed to maintain electric power and navigate the vessel. However, as the hull began to flood, the Pendleton drifted alarmingly close to shore, visible from the nearby beach.

The Heroic Small-Boat Rescue

With all other available rescue cutters engaged in attempts to save the other stricken tanker, the Coast Guard made a daring decision in the fading light. They dispatched a mere 36-foot wooden motor lifeboat, manned by a courageous crew of four young men, to undertake the seemingly impossible mission.

The small boat, known by its utilitarian designation CG36500, battled against driving snow that whipped horizontally, obscuring visibility, and monstrous waves that reached up to 70 feet in height. Despite encountering treacherous conditions, the crew pressed on with unwavering determination eventually rescuing all the stranded men.