The Walt Disney film “The Finest Hours” is sure to be the stuff of pulse-pounding adventure. It tells the incredible story of a 1952 rescue attempt by the U.S. Coast Guard, which responded to a pair of oil tankers splitting in half in a Nor’easter off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Just as heart-stopping to us, though, is seeing these historic photographs that the U.S. Coast Guard has released from the actual rescue and aftermath. Their black-and-white tones are a far cry from the computer recreations in the film—and are a powerful reminder that real men fought the battles of their lives on the water that day.
Particularly powerful is the shot of the SS Pendleton, cracked in half and lying half-sunk on a sandbar. If you look carefully, you can see a rescue ladder hanging limp along the non-submerged side of her hull. The stillness of that ladder is eerily memorable.
The U.S. Coast Guard has safeguarded the waters around the United States since 1790. In 2014 alone (the most recent statistics available), it performed more than 17,500 search- and-rescue missions; serviced more than 42,750 aids to navigation that yachtsmen use daily; and established 52 AIS aids to navigation that benefit yachtsmen as well.