The Finest Hours
The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue
By Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition (2009), 347 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-4104-1921-7
ISBN 10: 1-4104-1921-5
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - November 23, 2009
This is the true story of how two ships split off the coast on New England in 1952 and how the U.S. Coast Guard made a daring and heroic sea rescue of most of the men aboard the four parts of the two ships that split in violent weather. The coast guard faced a wild dance of giant waves that rose to seventy feet before crashing down with brutal force. The story is told in an exciting manner.
It is unfortunately not unusual for ships to flounder off the coast of New England, nor is it unusual for the ships to split in half when they are blasted by high tides of a Nor’easter. The tankers carrying fuel were generally constructed of two partly prefabricated halves that were welded together by weak steel.
The rescue boats were 36 feet long, built for four rescuers to hold twelve recued persons, but were used in this case to rescue several dozen men at a single time.
Our authors introduce us to the lives of the heroes, those they rescued and the difficulties they faced. One of the parts of the split ships, for example, had no radio or telephone to call for help. The trapped sailors seemed to have no chance for help.
The authors tell of the fear felt by the men who were clinging to the four parts of the two demolished ships. They quote Larry Kersten: Unless a person is lost at sea and cannot see the shore, "you never know the terror of being forever lost at sea."
This is a tale of men who were tested to the limits of their endurance, who could look back on their behavior with pride. We, too, can read of their acts and be inspired.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.israelbooks.com.