At 5:05 o'clock in the afternoon, the Naval Radio Station at San Francisco received a short, fearful message from the 11,000-ton U.S. Naval hospital ship Benevolence: EMERGENCY ... AM FOUR
MILES OFF THE GOLDEN [GATE] BRIDGE . . . NEED EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE . . .
That was all, but in exactly 60 seconds, a Coast Guard patrol boat was moving seaward; soon a Dunkirk-like fleet of 30 Army tugs, naval auxiliary craft, Coast Guard vessels and fishing boats were heading through the Golden Gate.
At first the hospital ship's fate was completely cloaked by fog and silence. Then, as the first rescue...