Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500

Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Commission
Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500 was built in 1946 in the Curtis Bay, Maryland Coast Guard Yard. The 36-foot long vessel is a heavily built double-ended, self-righting and self-bailing motor lifeboat, which was designed to withstand severe sea conditions. Referred to as a TRS model, vessels like CG 36500 were originally designed with gasoline-powered engines, which were later changed out for diesel ones. This model lifeboat was built from 1937 to 1956 with a total of 138 boats produced in all. The TRS was superceded by a newer model-a 44-foot long all steel design vessel with twin diesel engines. Few of the TRS model lifeboats survive and most of those that do are museum display vessels. CG 36500 remains an operational vessel and is representative of the primary type of rescue boat employed by Coast Guard Life Boat Stations through the mid-twentieth century.

Stern section of Pendleton; note the Jacob's ladder hanging from the railing, which was used by the crew to descend to the lifeboat
Photo courtesy of the USCG Historian's Office

CG 36500 was stationed at the Chatham, Massachusetts Coast Guard Life Boat Station from 1946 to 1968 and is famous for its role in the rescue of crewman from the tanker Pendleton in 1952. In the late afternoon of February 18 during a northeaster with winds of 70-knots, reported 40-60-foot seas and heavy snow, the crew of CG 36500 crossed the Chatham bar in the lifeboat and rescued 32 of the 33 men who were stranded on the stern half of the tanker. The Pendleton had broken in two in the early hours of the morning with the stern half moving towards Chatham.

The rescue attempt had taken its toll on CG 36500. For one, it was only built to accommodate 12 passengers and the crew, not the 36 that were now onboard. In addition, the boat was without navigational equipment as the ship's compass had been washed overboard while attempting to reach the Pendleton. Despite these obstacles, the decision was made to turn the boat around placing the wind and seas at the stern so as to force it ashore. Luckily, however, before this scenario could play out, the buoy marking the entrance to the Old Harbor in Chatham was spotted and the lifeboat was able to make its way safely to the fishing pier. The four-man crew of the CG 36500 was awarded the Treasury Department's coveted Gold Life-Saving Medal for their heroic efforts.

Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500 is owned by the Orleans Historical Society. The vessel is berthed at Rock Harbor, in Orleans and travels to various special events throughout the region. For more information, visit the Motor Lifeboat's website or call the historical society at 508-240-1329.

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