Red Carpet Premiere for “Finest Hours” Brings Out Stars in Boston; Benefit Held in Chatham

The Finest Hours Premiere

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BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: The Walt Disney Studios hosted a special 3D IMAX Screening of the Finest Hours for the US Coast Guard and local family, friends and supporters of the movie which was filmed in Quincy MA. Chris Pine accepts an award from the US Coast Guard at the screening of THE FINEST HOURS on January 28, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Allied Integrated Marketing)

CHATHAM –  The general public will get its first look at the Disney film “The Finest Hours” beginning Friday in theaters nationwide.

The movie chronicles what is considered to be the greatest small boat rescue in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, which took place off Chatham during a Nor’easter on February 18, 1952.

A red carpet screening Thursday night in Boston brought out the stars of the movie, including Casey Affleck and Chris Pine, and several members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

In Chatham, a private sneak preview was held at the Orpheum Theater on Main Street. Proceeds from the showing benefited the Coast Guard Heritage Museum and Orleans Historical Society.

The film is based on the book of the same name written by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman, a Barnstable native.

During a Nor’Easter on February 18, 1952, two 500-foot T2 tankers, the Fort Mercer and Pendleton, split in half off the coast of Chatham.

While one crew was sent out to assist the Fort Mercer, the Chatham Lifeboat Station, known today as Chatham Coast Guard Station, learned of the Pendleton’s predicament.

Boatswain’s Mate Bernard Webber was ordered to pick a crew and take out the CG-36500, a 36-foot wooden life boat, to rescue the crew of the Pendleton.

Casey Affleck

Actor Casey Affleck attends the red carpet premier of “The Finest Hours” in Boston

That rescue boat, rehabbed several years ago, was on display on a trailer outside the Orpheum Theater in Chatham Thursday night.

“The old motto used to be ‘You gotta go out but you don’t have to come back,’” Andy Fitzgerald said during a 2014 interview. “That is no longer the motto but I think it should be.”

Fitzgerald is the last surviving member of the rescue crew.

As the CG-36500 crossed the Chatham bar, it was struck by a large wave and sent airborne before crashing on its side between waves. The self-righting boat recovered and was smashed again – breaking its windshield and losing its compass.

The boat then traveled out into deeper water with even higher wave heights.

On several instances the lifeboat’s engine would cut out due to the engine losing its prime from rolling over. Each time this happened Fitzgerald would crawl into the small compartment to restart the engine while fighting through severe burns and bruises.

The CG-36500, which was supposed to carry far less passengers, now contained the four rescuers along with 32 members of the Pendleton’s crew.

The crew safely guided the boat back to the fish pier where a crowd of Chatham residents helped to bring the men ashore.

By BRIAN MERCHANT and MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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