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General Musings, True Story

True Story: The Finest Hours

We all know that when it comes to the narrative of films there is usually a certain liberty or two taken to enhance the dramatic effect of a story. Often times these changes are overlooked, other times they are a source of criticism for not staying true to source material. These articles of ours are not designed to criticise the changes, or lack of, from original source material, but are to show the differences of the film versus the fact. Got it? Well let’s get to it with the true story behind The Finest Hours. P.S. If you have not seen The Finest Hours, spoilers will follow.


  • Film – The bow of the USS Pendleton sinks just after breaking in two, never to be seen again
  • Fact – The USS Pendleton breaks apart at approx 05:55am, and the bow actually drifts South across ocean, further off the coast than the stern, for a considerable amount of time. The bow is also picked up on the radar of the Chatham Lifeboat Station at approximately 14:55, and visually viewed by Daniel Cluff shortly after.


  • Film – Miriam keeps herself involved in what is happening with the rescue attempt, spending time at the Station and travelling to the harbour awaiting the return of Bernie and the survivors.
  • Fact – Miriam was actually home sick at the time of the rescue mission, and Bernie asked fisherman John Stello to inform her of the mission on his way out. She was not present when the crew got back to shore, and when Bernie asked Stello what she had said, she was too ill to understand.


  • Film – The USS Pendleton broke in two in part due to a weld in the ships engine room that couldn’t hold due to the severe conditions.
  • Fact – The USS Pendleton had suffered a three way fracture one year before the tankers demise, which had not been properly repaired.


  • Film – Miriam proposes to Bernie during a dance, and Bernie looks to get approval from the Station master before they go ahead with the wedding.
  • Fact – Miriam and Bernie were actually already married by the time of the rescue mission of the Pendleton arrived. However it was Miriam who proposed to Bernie


  • Film – Ray Sybert gets the crew to try and shore the stern by drifting into a shoal, in order to keep them stable and prevent the ship from capsizing.
  • Fact – Ray Sybert actually did the opposite, getting the remaining crew to keep the stern away from any shore, and stop the ship from winding up being dragged into the dangerous waters of the bar.


  • Fact – There were 8 people aboard the bow of the ship when the Pendleton broke in two, which included the Captain John Fitzgerald. They perished with the bow.


  • Film & Fact – Bernie Webber and his three crew members did in fact save 32 men from the USS Pendleton. The only casualty from their rescue attempt was George ‘Tiny’ Myers (played by Abraham Benrubi). After putting the lives of his colleagues before his own, Myer’s was one of the last down the ladder but tragically got swept into the ocean and was crushed against the sinking ship.


  • Film & Fact – No mayday message was sent out by the Pendleton. They were only discovered by the radar in Station, and shortly confirmed as the Pendleton when air support from the rescue of the USS Mercer, another tanker which had broken in two, flew over head.

There are no major changes from the original story that would have made much difference in the outcome of the film, and overall it’s a fairly honest adaptation of the story that doesn’t take major liberties with the source material.

If you want more information on the true story behind The Finest Hours then checkout this website


And have a read of the book they adapted the film from The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue

About Snooty Usher Dan

Favourite Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) Worst Film: The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) Guilty Pleasure: Step Up 2: The Streets (The dancing is awesome ok.....)


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