New Book "Rum Runners, U-Boats, & Hurricanes," Highlights North Carolina Shipwrecks and Coast Guard History

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In the final days of WWII, two Coast Guard cutters leave port from Morehead City, North Carolina to rescue a torpedoed liberty ship. The ill-fated mission coincided with the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, and catastrophe ensued. Neither ship returned from the mission. This new book takes a look back at the incident, the history of the two ships, and the recent discovery of the shipwrecks near Cape Hatteras.

On a fog shrouded night in September 1944, an oceangoing rescue tug and the Coast Guard Cutters Bedloe and Jackson set out to sea from Morehead City, North Carolina with a full complement of men. World War II was coming to a close in the Atlantic, yet trouble could still be found just a few miles offshore. A liberty ship on her maiden voyage, a German U-boat in the wrong place at the right time, and the second worst hurricane of the century culminated in a desperate struggle for survival, as the rescuers unwittingly fell victim. The Bedloe, the Jackson, and forty-eight crewmen were never seen again. It was one of the worst maritime disasters to befall the Coast Guard during World War II.

This epic tale is recounted in the new book: Rum Runners, U-Boats, & Hurricanes, by Bryan Galecki, taking the reader full circle from the rum running days of Prohibition through the final moments and beyond, detailing the separate discoveries of the Bedloe and the Jackson shipwrecks half a century later. Firsthand accounts by survivors unveil the heart wrenching and sometimes brutal aspects of their ordeal, while in-depth analysis of obscure technical details reveal that there was more to this catastrophe than meets the eye.

The author, Bryan Galecki, is a former diver who originally identified the wreck of the USCGC Jackson as one of the two cutters lost in the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. Recent survivor interviews and extensive archival research uncover heretofore unknown aspects of the disaster, providing a compelling story for enthusiasts of nautical and military history. The incident will also be showcased in an upcoming Deep Sea Detectives television documentary to air on the History Channel during the 2006 season, with guest appearances by author Bryan Galecki and several of the Jackson survivors.

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