The Busy Little General Greene: How a Doughty Coast Guard Cutter Pulled 5 boats to Nantucket in World War II

During World War II, 649 Allied survivors of over 40 German U-boat attacks were rescued and landed in 16 ports in New England. Nantucket received more survivors than any other port in southern New England, with 90 merchant sailors landed all during two frenetic weeks in the spring of 1942, rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter General Greene. Because of the exigencies of war, these men mostly arrived on the island in the darkness. They were given round-the-clock security details before being whisked to Newport by the US Coast Guard Cutter General Greene. A number of them were Chinese, African, and European. After a failed stint as a museum ship in Newburyport, the Greene was apprehended by her former USCG colleagues in 1979, when Guatemalan drug kingpins named her Belmont.

Maritime historian Eric Wiberg moved to New England from the Bahamas for boarding school. He became a yacht captain (US Merchant Marine license, 1995), obtained a maritime law degree (2004), and a masters in marine affairs (2005). The founder of Echo Yacht Delivery (1999), Eric sailed over one hundred vessels globally. A Boston College graduate, he has studied geography in Oxford, law in Lisbon, and film in New York. The author of some 20 non-fiction books, his focus is on maritime casualties. He commercially operated a tanker fleet from Singapore, sold shipping news, marketed tugs to Europeans, and briefly salvaged a tanker platform in the Bahamas. Though enthralled with Nantucket, where his brother worked for Nantucket Moorings, nowadays Eric decamps to Cuttyhunk to write.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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