DISASTERS: Orphans of the Storm

Orphans of the Storm Coast Guard headquarters in Boston braced for battle as the tanker Fort Mercer, 29 miles off Cape Cod's Pollock Rip lightship, sent out an S O S. The worst nor'easter of the winter was burying New England in gale-blown snow and raising pure white hell offshore. Blinding snow, 50-ft. waves, and winds up to 90 miles an hour smashed the distressed tanker as the Coast Guard cutter Yakutat and the Navy cargo ship Short Splice hunted her. Just after noon, she broke in two.

As the storm roared on,...

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