Orleans Historical Society Floats Idea to Move Famous Coast Guard Boat from Cape Cod

ORLEANS – Local author Casey Sherman is expressing concerns about an idea being floated by the Orleans Historical Society that could send the famous lifeboat from the “Finest Hours” Coast Guard rescue to Washington.

Sherman said he was asked by Society officials during a conference call to use his connections with the U.S. Coast Guard to help move the CG36500 to its D.C. Headquarters when the time comes for the vessel to be taken out of the water and be preserved.

The society currently has stewardship of the vessel.

“The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue,” which was co-authored with Michael Tougias, details the 1952 rescue off the Coast of Chatham.

During a nor’easter the tankers Pendleton and Fort Mercer both split in half off the coast of the Cape. Of the 84 crew members who were on the two ships, 70 were rescued by four heroic Coast Guardsmen.

In 2016, Diseny released a feature film, “The Finest Hours,” which was adapted from the book by Sherman and Tougias. The film starred Chris Pine and Casey Affleck.

Sherman said he is a huge opponent of the plan.

“I think it’s a bad move to take a piece of Cape Cod history and move it from Cape Cod,” Sherman said.

Sherman said the society would gift the vessel to the Coast Guard and get a third party benefactor to raise funds to purchase the Linnell House.

“I think giving up one piece of history for another is a bad look,” Sherman said.

“Especially, giving up this symbol of courage on Cape Cod I think is going to really spark the ire of a lot of people who have fallen in love with the lifeboat, have fallen in love with the story and have fallen in love with our book and movie.”

Orleans Historical Society Vice Chair Jay Stradal said the conversion with Sherman was meant to be confidential because this idea was purely exploratory.

“It really reflects an inquiry we got from the Coast Guard several years ago that actually went nowhere,” Stradal said. “When you put it into context this is something that is always ongoing.”

Stradal also said that the future of the vessel has nothing to do with the society’s efforts to acquire the Linnell House.

The CG36500 is 72 years old and will soon need to come out of the water and be preserved.

“It’s a wooden boat and needs constant maintenance and at some point it’s going to have to come out of the water,” Stradal said. “The board has always been thinking about what happens and what do we do when that is necessary.”

Stradal said the board will continue to look at options on what to do with the historic vessel.

“Right now there is absolutely no immediate activity. There is no discussion with the Coast Guard right now,” Stradal said. “It is purely speculation at this point.”

Sherman said he would like to see a museum built on Cape Cod around the CG36500 that would provide information about the rescue and the history of life saving on Cape Cod.

“It’s my job as the author of “The Finest Hours” and our job as Cape Codders to save the boat that saved so many men in February of 1952,” Sherman said.

Sherman was also critical of how the society has promoted the vessel.

“I think the Orleans Historical Society has done a horrible job marketing its connection with this historical vessel which is now internationally famous,” he said. “People from all over the world come to visit the boat and they haven’t done anything to monetize this.”

Stradal said the vessel deserves to be preserved long-term and deserves a place of honor.

“Through a number of many, many thousands of volunteer hours and individual as well as other donations we have been able to maintain and operate it, and we are not going to do anything to the boat that would jeopardize its long-term preservation and its place of honor.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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