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The Pendleton Disaster Off Cape Cod: The Greatest Small Boat Rescue in Coast Guard History

A great rescue in Coast Guard history

Whether it was luck or divine intervention, a small Coast Guard crew found the Pendleton Feb. 18, 1952, rescuing 32 survivors while navigating 60-foot seas with a small engine and a single spotlight.

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“The Pendleton Disaster Off Cape Cod: The Greatest Small Boat Rescue in Coast Guard History” ($19.99, The History Press, 2008) by Theresa Mitchell Barbo and Capt. W. Russell Webster, USCG (Ret.) is now in its second edition.

First published in 2007, the book tells the tale of the horrific night a 503-foot oil tanker was caught in a Nor’easter off Cape Cod, Mass. A four-man crew entered the heart of the storm in a 36-foot powerboat from Coast Guard Station Chatham, knowing the odds of finding the men — and surviving the storm — were slim.

This second edition chronicles the

rescue as well as including a new

chapter on the efforts of today’s Coast Guard and how it has adapted to a changing world.

All proceeds from the book will benefit a scholarship fund at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

Barbo was the founding president of the Cape Cod Maritime History Symposium, now in its 12th year, and is former history editor of the Cape Cod Voice. Barbo, her husband, Daniel, and their children, Katherine, Margaret and Thomas, all live in Yarmouth Port, Mass.

Webster retired from the Coast Guard in 2003 following 26 years of service and is a maritime historian specializing in Cape Cod-area rescues. He is New England’s first federal preparedness coordinator for FEMA in Boston and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, with his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Andrew and Noelle. For information visit

See related story: Pendleton rescuer remembered for valor

This article first appeared in the March 2009 issue.