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Precis File
source Frump, Two Tankers Down
type D
dead 9

Pendleton, an American flag T2, left Norco, La 19520212 loaded with heating oil and kerosene, for Boston. Crew of 47(?), all Americans. Draft was 29.5 ft even keel. Ran into a Force 9 (occaisionally 10) noreaster off Cape Cod. Decided to hove to.

At 0550 on 1952-02-18, split in two in way of tanks 7 and 8, with a loud bang. Sea water temp was about 40F. All the men (8) in the forward section, which floated in a bow up position were lost.

The stern section floated more or less evenly for a while and was semi-maneuverable. It eventually grounded 0.25 miles off Nauset Beach. In a truly remarkable bit of seamanship, a 4 man USCG crew led by Coxswain Bernie Webbers was somehow able to get a 36 ft rescue boat out of Chatham, take off 32 of 33 survivors off the stern shortly before it capsized, and get them back ashore.

Bow section was towed away and scrapped. Frump does not say if any oil was recovered. Stern section was submerged by a storm in 1978, and then broken up.

source CTX
type C
volume 15000t
dead 9

Cause was almost certainly brittle fracture, altho corrosion may have played a role. Wartime ships were built with a high sulfur steel with low notch toughness. By 1952 this was known and the Pendleton had been fitted with four riveted strips as crack arrestors. This was basically a placebo, to keep these all-welded ships in service. Unless the crack started close to an arrestor, and propagated only toward the arrestor, these arrestors could not have much effect. This should have been clear to both the USCG and ABS, but a national goal at the time was to maintain an American flag merchant marine.

Frump claims that, after the Pendleton and Fort Mercer casualties, ABS recommended that T2's be fitted with four more arrestors. CTX has no evidence this was ever done. It would not have made much difference.

CTX is guessing that almost all the ship's cargo was spilled; but, since the split was well-aft, and the forward section was scrapped, this may be an over-estimate.