Cadets Tour Small Boat Used In Historic Rescue

<p>Cadets Tour Small Boat Used In Historic Rescue</p>

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Day Staff Writer, Navy/Defense/Electric Boat
Published on 10/2/2005</p>

<p>New London — Coast Guard Cadet Lelea Littlefield was struggling to keep her balance in the crowded hold of a motor lifeboat tied up to the pier Saturday morning, with 25 of her classmates crammed in with her in a space designed for eight.</p>

<p>Her shoulders hunched and knees bent, even the slightest rocking made it tough to stay on her feet, but the 4th Class cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy didn't have any place to fall, either.</p>

<p>“Imagine what this would have been like in 60-foot seas,” Littlefield said. “We would have been tossed around like crazy.”</p>

<p>The students were re-enacting what is one of the most heroic rescues in the annals of the Coast Guard, when four sailors at Chatham Station on Cape Cod pulled 32 men off an oil tanker, the Pendleton, that had been broken in half by a violent nor'easter the morning of Feb. 18, 1952.</p>

<p>None of the students seemed daunted by the prospects of the dangers that the ship represents, dangers they could face in a few years.</p>

<p>“It's this kind of stuff that made me want to join the Coast Guard,” said 4th Class Cadet Christopher Quatroche of Salem. “The way we use whatever resources we have to save people is just amazing.”</p>

<p>Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Bernard Weber and three sailors stepped forward for what seemed a suicide mission in the 36500 — at 36 feet it was too small to warrant a name — and brought the surviving crew back through hurricane-force winds, blinding snow and 40- to 60-foot waves.</p>

<p>In 1981, the 36500 was discovered rotting in the underbrush of the Cape Cod National Seashore and was restored by a group of dedicated volunteers. It is now a museum ship in Orleans, Mass. </p>

<p>Pete Kennedy, an Army veteran who is part of the 36500 crew, noted that a rib along the bow that normally floats several inches above the waterline was fully submerged during the re-enactment. </p>

<p>And 53 years ago it would have been filled with burly, experienced seamen wearing bulky lifejackets and sodden woolen clothes, who would have been a lot heavier than young, trim cadets in cotton uniforms.</p>

<p>“Handling the ship would have been incredibly difficult when it was loaded like that,” Kennedy said. “How they got steerage, I'll never know.”</p>

<p>Kennedy also noted that the bulk of the men and their garb would have made conditions even more tight than the students' standing-room only experience Saturday, “but their motivation was, perhaps, a little different from your motivation.”</p>

<p>The academy's Class of 1962 asked the Orleans Historical Society, which owns the boat now, to bring it to the school for the re-enactment to commemorate the dedication of a new mural the class commissioned for the library. The mural was unveiled Saturday.</p>

<p>“It's the first time we've had this many people on board at one time since Feb. 18, 1952,” Kennedy said. “It took us two days to get here from Cape Cod. And this is probably our last long trip.”</p>

<p>The 36500 has just earned a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the last remaining afloat example of the 36-foot motor lifeboat that once populated the Coast Guard fleet. It is considered too valuable to risk on long voyages.</p>

<p>For information on the 36500 and the Pendleton rescue, go to <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;.&lt;/p>

<p>Thanks for posting HC...nice story. Yesterday I went to my son's first crew regatta. Lots of fun and a beautiful day. The Coasties did well, with the men's novice taking 2nd and 4th place and the women's novice winning! The varsity crews did a good job too.</p>